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e-Dating: Beware the “Perfect” Profile!

Ladies, if you are newly single there is no need to search for eligible men trawling through bars or grocery store aisles. A recent Oxford University study determined that of the people aged 40-69 who recently found a mate, 36% of them did so on-line. If you want to find love again, try the technology available at your fingertips and browse through the thousands of bachelors who are looking for someone special…like you.

Soon after two of my good friends joined a popular dating site, both hit the jackpot. “Betty” met a lovely man who shares her love of photography and the beach. “Susan” found the man of her dreams. After dating for a year, they married last fall in an elegant ceremony at a charming B&B in St. Augustine. (I love happy endings. Don’t you?)

That could be you. But if you decide to jump headfirst into the eDating pool remember to exercise caution. Yes, there may be photographs of Mr. Fitness climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. Yes, CareBear may report his travels through Thailand to fill sandbags during the monsoon season. But the owners of those smiling faces and fascinating profiles may not be exactly who they say they are. Even if they aren’t serial killers, they might be one of the men I dated…

My e-bachelor Number One, CPAdad, was the devoted father of two teenaged girls. A nice, conservative accountant, he was a little shy, but since I’d been married to Attila the Hun for twenty-plus years, his shyness was a welcome change.

After exchanging several emails and talking on the phone, we decided to meet for the first time over lunch at a busy restaurant. As I pulled into the crowded lot I spotted him near the entrance. As I approached, I thought, he must have a good metabolism. IThe temperature hovered near 50 degrees, but he waited in his shirtsleeves. After introducing ourselves, we followed the hostess to a table in the center of the room. Peeking over my menu, I noticed him using his napkin like a towell, blotting the beads of sweat gathering on his forehead. Was this date a mistake?

A man at the next table sneezed.

“Do you think the waitress could move us to a different section?” CPAdad asked. His brow glistened as his back curved, his shoulders hunching around his ears like a frightened hedgehog.

“It’s pretty crowded in here,” I replied. “Anyway, I’m sure he just used too much pepper. The guy looks pretty healthy.”

“I just got over the flu.”

“Well, you look great.”

He took that comment as a green light to launch a 15-minute monologue describing his health regimen. Vitamin E, kelp capsules, pre-dawn pushups, the list continued until the waitress came to take our order.

“I’ll take the health salad with a light dressing on the side,” he said. Big surprise there.

While thrilling me with a graphic description of his emergency appendectomy, I racked my brain for some plausible escape. That’s when he snapped me out of my reverie.

“Do you want to see it?” he asked.

“Umm. See what.”

“My scar.”

Before I could stop him he pushed back his chair, hitched up his golf shirt, lowered his waistband and…well, I just couldn’t look—though I may have been the only one in the room who didn’t.

Check please!

If Gandhi and Bea Arthur had a son, he’d be a dead ringer for e-Bachelor Number Two. Lifetime was articulate, a political liberal and a life-long vegetarian. Perfect! After a few dates in public places, he invited me to his condo for an early dinner. Riding up the elevator, the butterflies in my stomach morphed into bats. What did I really know about this guy? Was I too trusting?

But he greeted me at the door with a warm smile and the tantalizing aroma of curry. As he led me into the living room, the first thing I noticed was a bank of windows opening to a vista of pink clouds above a turquoise ocean. The second thing I noticed took my breath away. Glaring down from the other three walls were the mounted heads of mid-size mammals (including a few on the endangered species list).

Crouched on a glass coffee table, a stuffed fox paused mid-leap with a field mouse clenched between its perfect, needle-studded jaw. As he giddily began introducing his “pets” by name, I backed toward the door. He hardly noticed. Bye-bye, Safari-Sam.

Thinking my luck had to change, I corresponded with e-Bachelor Number Three. I could tell by viewing QuickDraw41’s photograph, he didn’t take himself too seriously. He wore a cowboy hat and a smile that crinkled his eyes. A cartoonist/camera man who didn’t smoke or drink, he divided his free time between drawing pictures for terminally-ill children and completing the final edit of his documentary. Now a seasoned e-dater, I did my research before agreeing to meet. Aside from being a decade older than he claimed, he seemed legit. We agreed to meet for the first time over early morning coffee.

As I approached the tall, barrel-chested man in the cowboy hat, my heart skipped a beat. He was cute. But as he bent to give me a peck on the cheek, a heavy fog of gin, tobacco and sweat almost knocked me unconscious. Roll credits QuickDraw.

By now you’re probably wondering why I kept at it. Well, not every guy I met made it to this little hall of shame. Plenty of edaters were nice, normal guys; we just didn’t find that connection that sprouts wings and soars. Before I close, I need to warn tell you about e-bachelor Number Five.

Outdoorsey-guy873 was a physical therapist who played jazz on his sax, was an avid squash player, had never been married and helped care for his aging parents. The photographs of his garden were worthy of House Beautiful. His athletic prowess made me wonder why he’d be interested in a non-athlete like me, but I figured maybe he needed a rest. We agreed to meet at sunset on the Flagler Pier.

I was a little early, so I watched the fishermen. A shoeless boy got a nibble. Reeling it in, he let out a sigh when the tiny red fish broke the surface.

It was an omen.

I turned to see a slight man with a cane limping toward me. He couldn’t be Outdoorseyguy, could he? His eyes locked on mine as I held onto a shred of hope; Maybe he’s on a special squash team?

“Deb,” he wheezed, moving closer.

“Hi, Jim.” I held out my hand to shake his, which he grasped like a life-line.

“Let’s find a seat, okay?” he said. “Do you mind if I lean on you a bit? It was a long walk from the parking lot.”

As he slumped into the nearest bench, I thought about how tired I was of all the false claims and sins of omission. Who did these guys think they were?  What made them think they could get away with such whopping lies? No more Ms. Nice-Guy. It was time for me to toughen up.

“So, were you in an accident?”

“No. Oh, you mean the limp. Yeah. I wanted to tell you about that, but I was afraid you wouldn’t agree to meet if you knew. I had polio. I’m still ticked at my parents for not having me vaccinated. Too busy making their millions.”

“I’m sorry to hear it. How do you manage with your work? Being a physical therapist is, well, physical, isn’t it?”

“Work? Oh, I haven’t been able to work in a while.”

“Oh. That’s too bad. But I guess your garden keeps you busy.”

“Garden? Oh. Yeah. Well, that’s kind of my mother’s garden. She’s got a green thumb and works like a fieldhand. I took the photographs though.”

“So, you were never married. Ever come close?”

“Yeah. I was engaged to a wonderful girl. She was a bit younger than me. It was love at first sight. But she died.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry.”

“Yeah. At the inquest…”

“Um. What inquest?”

“Well, I was kind of implicated in her death. It wasn’t intentional or anything; don’t get the wrong idea. But she died of a heroin overdose, and I, uh, was the one who bought the bag. Her father was friends with the judge, so they got me for involuntary manslaughter. I really miss that girl.”

By now the sun was dipping lower. Dream-date was beginning to shiver. I got up and held out my hand.

“Let me help you back to your car.”

“Thanks, I’m kind of tired. But I’ve got my sax in the trunk. You haven’t heard me play yet. ”

“That’s okay. I think I’ve heard enough.”

So, I’ve let my dating membership lapse and moved on to other pursuits. Being single isn’t so bad and I’ve got more time to read. But if I do ever decide to risk my Zen for the brass ring of male companionship, it will be for someone I’ve met under traditional circumstances, like say, in the produce aisle.

Photographs: The many faces of Johnny Depp.

Spoken

The woman on my left shares courthouse pew,

Wringing ring-less fingers, her manicure is flawless.

No need to speak or nod; no age or income,

Degree or skin will mask why we are here.

We know each other’s stories; there is no need for word.

          I love you baby. I’m so sorry. Please…think about the kids.

The bailiff, bored, calls “Jones and Jones.”

An older woman shudders, gray hair still pillow-flat.

My stomach lurches for us both;

She makes her way alone.

I see him too, his wizened eyes

And know his secret plan:

          I love you baby. I’m so sorry. Please…think about the kids.

 Remembering another place, old maples fencing road,

Shading until autumn-chill, house windows bowing low

Laden with impatience, shivered red before the frost.

When school bus braked and my two girls

Skipped happy up the drive.

          I love you baby. I’m so sorry. Please…think about the kids.

 My lawyer rises. Following, I meet familiar stare.

Silent threat demands of me: Just keep your voice slammed shut–

To hold his lie, a fantasy for faded conscience sake.

Raising now my hand I take a breath and swear an oath.

Voiced in timbre new for me—loud and clear and bold,

Like movie played in black and white behind my eyes:

           A quiet night, I read in bed

          When foreign spouse appeared.

          An effigy in shadow-deep

          Who swore to steal my life

          For speaking of his crimes,

          Betrayal scared within.

          Chaos ripped descendent stripes,

          Through promise, scalp and flesh.

          Sound was stilled by pillow crushed

          Into my open scream.

          Alone with God in linen burrow,

          No longer feeling pain

          I asked what things I’d left undone—

          Oh, God. What about my kids?

 One day I’ll understand how Spirit gifted me with word

To speak with body bloodied, slack,

With empathy from God.

To still his brute assassin-skill,

His fingers twisted dark

His heart a mix of chemicals

Sent nose and mouth to brain.

              For now it is enough to sail beyond this history told.

                              To gaze behind each now and then at ever-widening wake.

                                                 To gaze behind in gratitude at ever-widening wake.

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4 thoughts on “Portfolio

  1. tovahsez says:

    Loved your eye-opening post on e-dating. Great writing! Tovah

  2. Deb, LOL I can laugh, I’ve been married 41 yrs, your Mr. Right is just around the corner.

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