Professor Thom's in the East Village for a book launch party. My colleague wrote an e-book, soon to be a paperback, called Salary Tutor (check it out -- who among us couldn't use a bigger paycheck?). As he was introducing his agent and publisher to us, I got to thinking about my own book.
Yes, I wrote an unpublished novel AGES ago -- back in 2002, to be exact, when I was just 29 years young. And all 285 pages have been sitting in a box ever since. Well, they briefly saw the light of day back in 2009, when I dusted them off to blog an excerpt from one of my favorite chapters.
But mostly, it's been a life in the box.
Anyway, I went digging in that old box when I got home from the party, and I discovered that even waaay back then, I knew online dating was full of freaks and losers. Like this guy, this guy, THIS guy, this guy, and most recently, this guy. And I hadn't even signed up for any dating services at that point in my life, like I did at age 35 or 37.
But somehow, I just knew. Behold, snippets from Chapter 20: The Meet Market...
A homely young woman was sitting on her couch, under a crocheted blanket, eating chocolate ice cream straight from the container. A voiceover declared, "You can eat ice cream on your couch." The next scene showed the same woman, now a sexpot in a French bistro seated across from a gentleman in a tuxedo. "Or you can eat ice cream off your date." They cut to the woman's face and she winked as he put an ice cream-coated fingertip in her mouth. The voice said, "You decide," as the words "No More Lonely Nights" scrolled across the screen, with the URL for an online dating site.
Eventually, the book's main character, Kate (a girl loosely based on me), made the decision to join this dating site. Unsure how to navigate these unfamiliar waters, she first did a little profile reconnaissance...
Kate came across cutesy screen names like IrishYouPeace and Shiksappeal, nostalgic names like OuttaTime88 and TheOtherDarrinStevens, nasty names like Chitty_Chitty_Gang_Bang and Jenitellya, and creepy names like AshleighsDad and Pastor_Gary.
In her dating experiences, Kate was a lot like Goldilocks. Some of the porridge was too cold, some of the beds were too soft, some of the bears were too short. She'd yet to meet anyone that was "just right." That seemed as good a screen name as any, so JustWrite29 was born. In the wee hours of Saturday morning, she posted the following profile:
JUSTWRITE29 - LOOKING FOR MR. MAYBE
Cable television talent booker seeking an escape from the single life. I prefer beer to wine, dinner to dancing, and
brains to brawn. You prefer brunettes to blondes, movies to marathons, and sarcasm to slapstick. If you have also
run out of friends to hit on, you find yourself bored by the bar scene, and would rather poke yourself in the eye with
a fork than sit through another fixup, we should probably talk.
It wasn't long before Kate began receiving responses to her new profile...
A small, yellow envelope appeared at the bottom of her computer screen, so she took a detour from reviewing the morning's news stories to reading her email. There were seven new messages, all a result of the dating profile she just posted. "This is too easy," Kate said as she waded through the messages. "Come to mama!" What she quickly realized is the reason it was so easy was because there were a lot of spooky freaks patrolling the information superhighway in the middle of the night, many of whom likely still lived with mama.
The messages came with photos attached. She found it funny that someone named PlayLikeAChampionToday was giving a buddy hi-five. The caption might as well have read: I'm going for the gold in the Douche Olympics. Bronze simply will not do. Date_Seeking_Missile promised to take Kate all the way to DEFCON5. Staring at his picture, Kate made a mental note never to date a man who wore clogs or bathing suits that resembled panties.
Someone named Theres.Something.About.Marty explained that he enjoyed long walks on the beach. "Yeah, on a leash. Woof, WOOF," Kate said aloud as she deleted his message. The hairstyles here were something like she hadn't seen since her high school yearbook. For the candidate best suited for male pattern baldness, she was torn between LastAmericanSmoker with the moustache and mullet and TKESully82 who looked as though he dove headfirst into a jar of Dippity Don't.
Kate continued wading through messages, until she got to the last one...
The speedy death of her faith in Internet dating culminated with the following glorious proposition:
DATE: Saturday, April 5, 2:41AM
MESSAGE: i like your butt. can i wear it as a hat?
Without hesitation, she deactivated her online dating profile. It may have been rash, but she was not prepared to be hit on by losers in the comfort and privacy of her own home. No sense in meeting men even less mature than the emotional toddlers she'd been dating all her life. She'd relegate those lame pick-ups and horrible fix-ups to the bars, where they belonged.
See! All those years ago, I knew even without knowing, that online dating is the pits. Case in point: about a week ago, one guy decided to jump past the guided communication on eHarmony and deliver me an "icebreaker." From his profile photos (6 total), he could only be described as a Tank Top Enthusiast. He sent me the oldest pickup line in the book, "Haven't I seen you someplace before?"
I replied, "Yes, that's why I don't go there anymore."
And then I closed the match.
For every 100 guys like the ones above, there's MAYBE 1 normal one. If that! I'm emailing right now with a guy from Long Island who appears totally normal. The good news is that according to his photos, he has no affinity for sleeveless undershirts and shows no obvious signs of wanting to wear my ass as headgear. But what do I know?
Now I'm thinking maybe I should read the rest of the manuscript! It's like a freaking crystal ball! Who knows what other sage dating advice (online or otherwise) that my young, cute 29 year old self has for my old, haggard 37 year old self?
tags: dating, writing