So, you want to try online dating. Because your pretty friend Anne did it and she’s been talking about it. If Anne is brave enough — you will be brave too. Make sure when you write your profile not to mention anything sour about your first marriage. Don’t mention you have a child and never, ever include in your profile that you actually want to get married again.
Include something exotic, like your interest in travel, tennis, skiing. But spice it up – write with rapture about Greece, where stars sparkled on the water like diamonds after an 11-kilometer hike. Later on, a monk drowned when a flash flood swept the same gorge, but you will not put this in your profile. Save that for a first date.
Expect a deluge of e-mails, not because you’re pretty, talented and amazing, but because you are “fresh meat.” Start weeding. Pruning. Composting. First instincts are deadly accurate. There’s a reason these guys are still online. Trust me.
More than one fellow will proudly display every fish, fowl or furry creature he has ever nailed with a firearm. He stands next to a muddy jeep or a very large motorcycle with over-sized exhaust pipes. Resist the urge to make comments about phallic symbols. Just hit “block.” Do not send e-mails to these burly men. In the one instance where you take a look at his profile photo a few more times, just to be certain that he really does bear a slight resemblance to Johnny Depp – yes, it’s there in the dimples — you will be sorry later. It will be the night when you threaten to call 911 and hold your finger just over the “send” button on the phone until Mr. Major Guns finally leaves and the door is dead-bolted.
Okay, I didn’t mean to scare you. After that mistake, just learn the lesson and get back on the horse, so to speak. You will become more discriminating. (For heaven’s sake – what were you thinking? Of course the cheesy, cheap guys are on the free sites.) Head over to the supposedly safer haven of E-Hominy, I mean Harmony.
You have promised yourself you will not date men from too far away because that is stupid. They never actually relocate. But Mr. South Carolina drives an unbelievable seven hours just to meet you and makes home-made Louisiana gumbo and splashes chicken broth on your ceiling and the stain is still there. He “gets you,” but in February you realize he is never, ever going to move. You stop the online hunt.
Maybe, the ‘best’ men are not online. They don’t have to go online. One night, while you are home alone, the happy couple who met online pop onto the TV screen and your credit card jumps out and you’re wired in again.
Mr. Piano Man struts through the door of the dark bar like he’s walking onstage, sunlight draping him like a well-aimed spotlight. With every sauntering step, you know you might wind up like a wrecked car on the railroad tracks of a great country song. He opens the car door and you don’t even bother with the seat-belt when he speeds up and hits the ‘come-on-over-darlin’ curve. He takes you to Vegas with his friends, who renew their vows in the Elvis Chapel (really.) Stars, studio musicians, backstage passes to the Grand Ole Opry. It’s glittery.
Mr. Piano Man also invites other women backstage other nights, but you won’t find out for sure until just before you break up. You will miss the way he caressed the ivories in the morning at your house. But you know you deserve better. You swear off online dating.
January finds you on a plane with friends, the ones you listen to music with Sundays in the park. That morning, 16 people schlep ski gear to the airport and scramble to assigned seats. The fellow next to you changes seats with a guy who wants to sit next to a friend. The new fellow eases into the seat and you do not stop first to think about how long the plane ride is when you blurt out, “That other fellow was kind of cute.”
“Yeah,” he says with a grin. “He was also kind of married. He went to sit with his wife.”
“Uh, I’m not into that.” Long awkward pause. Minutes later, you start a lame conversation about Cavendish bananas, because that’s what the article in your lap is about. You discover you both like online word games. When he falls asleep his leg will brush yours and you will leave your calf next to his, letting the warmth radiate. You will enjoy this but you won’t dare believe it will lead to anything further. In Utah, skiing, he will help you when you fall.
At the wedding, you will tell only the ski trip story.
by Sybil McLain-Topel
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