If you read the introduction to these humor columns then you've probably noticed that I am divorced. So, after being out of the dating game for like eight years the thought of actually meeting someone again and dating was pretty hairy. No, make that "scared-out-of-wits". But, after being alone for over a year I decided that it was time to see if I still "had it". Also, over the years I have added a few pounds and decided that screaming pain was once again long overdue. Mix screaming pain and dating and you get "Health Club" (or "Marriage"). So here I go to the health club in the knowledge that I would soon gain good health and babes.
Babies is probably more accurate. Ugh, I have never seen so many 20 year olds in multi-colored spandex in my life. It also appears that they spend serious money on hair products as for most of them after two hours of sweating their hair is still perfect. Since it had been five years since I last went to a health club I had forgotten all about this. As for attracting attention to myself, the only time I was looked at was when I was in a spot they wanted to exercise in. The few times I was "hit on" it made me feel like a dirty old man (insert your Walter Matthau joke here). I don't consider myself ancient, but I suspect that I do not really have much in common with a 20 something year old named "Taura". Few woman of my age work out in Monroe apparently. When I would find one that would actually give me the time of day it was the desperation act for them. "Are you married? Do you own a home? Are you a leper? Will you marry me? Now?" Of course, being desperate myself I could relate. So, rather early on I decided that the health club would simply be a place I go to three times a week to beat myself up for a couple of hours.
Another fun place to get hit on is at Fred Meyer's. Now mind you, Freddie's is the largest store in Monroe (it's across from the Buzz Inn, by the way. People often run across a major freeway to go in between the two places. These people are the reason abortion should remain legal.) Freddie's has something like 800 departments. To most Monroites going to Freddie's on Saturday is the highlight of the week. Me, I'm now terrified of Fred Meyer's after an incident in the grocery department. Picture this, here I am, with my shopping cart, in sweats, walking up/down/up the aisles, minding my own business trying to find food products that don't come in the "gargantuan, feeds most third world countries" size. Actual shopping cart contents: 14 cans of Purina canned dog food, 1 large rawhide bone, 1 gallon of milk, deli turkey meat for the dog (no, I don't want to discuss it) and 1 Swanson "Hungry Man, Traditional Salisbury Steak Dinner." Makes a guy look like a great catch, don't you think?
Anyway so I'm heading to the checkout stand and trying to determine which of the only two open lines out of twenty with 500 people in each of the two lines while the other checkers are taking a smoke break to go in when a lady runs her cart into me. Hard. I believe the yelp I let out was heard in the 800th department. She apologizes of course and then starts to relate her life's story to me. Without pause. Without even polite social talk (can you have polite social talk at Fred Meyer?) I mean she was attractive and all that but it soon became readily apparent that: 1. She had rammed me to meet me. 2. She would do it again if I didn't take her out sometime. Woo hoo this is some serious fun! She is still rambling as a bruise the size of Warren Beatty's ego was emerging on my thigh. I just wanted to sit down and say "Ow!" a few dozen times. Took me almost an hour to get away from her and only with the promise of a call (I haven't, as yet). I now avoid Freddie's except when it is dark out and it's Friday night late when the Buzz Inn is packed with people who have crossed the freeway from Fred Meyer. Important safety tip: Don't go into the Buzz Inn on Friday nights unarmed.
So I decided to try the Internet Dating Game.
One of the very first things I noticed when I got "connected" on the web using a search engine with the words "love me" as the search criteria is that there are something like 3742990 places to choose your new "soul-mate" from. Which one was the best? Beats me, I'm still looking. If you find out let please me know. Another thing I noticed was that now I would have to take remedial English again as I had no clue as to what they are talking about. "DWF wants LTR with DWM and dog." There is apparently (and I still haven't figured it out yet) an entire language devoted to on-line dating. I wonder if the linguist who created the Klingon language could figure it out.
Anyway, so I start looking at these ads. Noticed first that there is apparently a 1000:1 ratio of men to women. Also noticed that the "spell checker" obviously doesn't work on some computers as I have observed some pretty horrific spelling (and grammar). Actual ad:
"im 32, HWP, DWF, drinks socilly, no smoke. Loking for that Mr. Right to sweap me of my feat!"
No, I did not respond to that one. I wonder if someone did and that she is now "sweaped"? Was she on some great pharmaceutical when she wrote this? I have no idea but if she was then she probably shared as witnessed by this from an obviously desperate woman. Actual ad:
"Hi, I am a 40 yo blond, blueyed, 5' 4", 175 lbs sexy babe looking for a wealthy great looking man to take care of me and my 5 kids. Send picture to me first to see if I like you!"
So after a few hours of looking I am getting more than slightly apprehensive with this on-line dating concept but I go, "Hey Rick, you're a software guy. You've got to use technology to get you a woman!" Sounded just like Dilbert. Buck was looking at me strange. Still, I pulled out the fastest word processor in the room and sat down to compose an on-line ad.
Hmmm. Nothing seems to be coming to me in the way of a "Quality Ad". Since you are reading the first of these diatribes you're probably saying "Gee Rick, it should be easy to compose an on-line ad. You seem to know how to run a word processor." Ok, homework time. Go grab a piece of paper, a pencil, and then in 500 words or less talk about yourself knowing that some woman is going to review what you wrote and will show it to her mother, daughter, her dog, and everyone else within the immediate city she can think of. If you turn out to be a loser they have written evidence. You try it. How do you make yourself sound like you would be fun to be with, don't have a face that would make a dog run in blind terror, and make enough money to support your new lady in her newly desired and deserved rich and famous lifestyle?
So I cheated. I went to the "men's" section (do the people who run these web sites check to make sure that a "man" is responding to a "woman" ad and chuckle if a guy goes to a guy ad? "Hey Sam! Lookie here! Someone else who don't know what to say!") and scoped out ads for ideas. Turns out though, that the men's are not all that much different from the women's. Actual ad:
"Hi, my name is Dutch, I am a 45 yo DWM and am considered a babe magnet. Talk to me. See if we can swing together!"
If he is rich and wants 5 kids then we have found a match.
Well, after about 4 days of trying I finally finished my ad. I even showed it to a lady friend at work who said that I really shouldn't mention that I was a software engineer as women would think I was a geek (true enough, but I can dance). So I paid my $24.95 and posted this thing on a web site, included a picture of myself with stupid, and sat back to wait and observe what happens.
Next morning I had 124 responses. Started wading through them. Hmmm. Detecting patterns here. About ½ of them were from women saying, essentially, "Gee you're nice but first help me with my computer then maybe we'll talk", about ¼ looked "reasonable", and it appears that ¼ of them were apparently on a fine alcohol product as their responses were pretty strange. Actual response:
"Hello Rick, do you like kinky sex? If you do, here is a picture of me."
Shudder. (And no, I didn't respond. Stop that!) So by now you are probably going, "So Rick, how did you eventually do?" Well, to tell you the truth I'm not quite sure. Have been out on a few dates, one with a gorgeous lady who, unfortunately, was "Clueless In Seattle" if you get my drift. Still e-mailing some, talking to others. In a future episode I'll play this out for you but so far I am still hanging in there. It's a tough world dating when your 42 and your best friend is a dog but I am committed to this. Or, maybe, I should just be committed.
I hope that you have enjoyed reading this. And if you are a DWF, HWP, NS, LD, interested in dating, please write. Thank you.
Copyright 1999, by Richard C. Guinn.