Am I the only mature woman in America who thinks that online dating is more funny than it is scary?
I got off to a pretty amusing start, I must admit. My first date from a Web site (I won’t tell you which Web site) was with a plumber. Not Joe the Plumber—his older, much more boring, neurotic cousin, I think. We’ll call him Steve, because I have no idea what his name was at this point.
Steve invited me to meet him for coffee at a local diner. It was in a safe, very public place, so I accepted. I was not good at vetting my potential dates back then. He did not meet my current minimum requirements, and I can thank him for showing me that I have to stick to those very carefully. First of all, I no longer date men who did not graduate from college. It may seem arbitrary, but it is shorthand for a lot of things that I want in a man. I hate bad grammar. I detest George Bush, and everything for which he stands. I think motorcycles should be illegal. I loathe country music. You can avoid saying all that pretty easily by saying no to men without an education. Yes, I will pass over the occasional blue collar intellectual. That’s okay. There are more than enough accountants, college professors, and MBA’s looking for love, believe me.
But, getting back to Steve, he was waiting in his panel truck for me when I got there. I realize now that if he hadn’t liked the way I looked, he was planning to drive away and stand me up. As it was, he fairly jumped out of the truck, which was emblazoned with his name and phone number, and introduced himself—as if I couldn’t read the foot tall letters behind him, identifying him like a larger than life business card. We went inside, got a booth, and ordered iced tea—it was too warm out for coffee, really. He was grinning at me nervously, and suggested we have dinner instead of just coffee.
I made my second mistake—I accepted his offer of dinner. My first mistake was saying yes to meeting him at all. I ordered a salad, and he ordered something involving a large slab of grilled beef. He began to tell me about his failed second marriage. He seemed not to realize that I didn’t want to know the details of what happened, including the information about the order of protection his wife had issued, and the crying himself to sleep every night, and the partnership in the plumbing business with her dad. TMI would be an understatement. Steve was the crown prince of TMI, I soon found out. I think I said about three sentences, if you count what I ordered.
He ordered coffee for us both, after dinner. I didn’t want to be rude, so I agreed to that too. (I am much more brutal now, and I think it’s better that way.) Over coffee, he made very direct eye contact with me and said, “In person, you are a lot prettier than in your pictures, you know. You look very young.”
And I said, “Thank you,” because he was not even a little bit prettier in person. And then he said it—a phrase which is emblematic of why it is so hard to date when you are over fifty. “You are really very sexy. I think you should know that I have been tested, and I don’t have any sexually transmitted diseases.”
A few emails, two phone conversations, and ninety minutes in a booth at a diner, and he was ready for action. I don’t know how I kept from laughing. Instead, I said, “I am happy for you. But, I just remembered that I promised my mother I’d take her grocery chopping tonight. Gotta run now.” And I left. Just like that. Not another word.
As I got in the car, I started to giggle. Grocery shopping with my mom? Really, how lame is that for an excuse! Granted, it was only seven in the evening, so it wasn’t totally impossible, but I didn’t know what made me say it. I stopped at my mother’s house on my way home, but I didn’t tell her what happened—she doesn’t need to know everything that happens in my crazy life. I even took her grocery shopping, which allowed me to feel like I wasn’t a complete liar.
Steve called me the next day, but, I didn’t return his call. He emailed me, and I told him that I didn’t think he was ready for dating yet, since he was still so upset with his ex. At least he didn’t call anymore, after that. I still laugh every time I picture him giving me his medical information so earnestly. Brave new world, indeed.
Stay tuned for additional reading between the crossed out lines in my little black book.