In three days I’ll be back in British Columbia visiting with friends and family. It won’t be the complicated and exhausting trip that I took last year because I’m not trying to visit everyone in one trip this time. I’ll spend most of it with my daughter and grandchildren. I may or may not have anything new to write about while there, but I will try to do my Memoir Mondays, by sharing some of the memories of the various stages of my life, as I have written them over the years, in no particular order.
At one time I thought I’d write a book about online dating. The following is the first chapter, written more than fifteen years ago. I’d be grateful for your feedback, good or bad.
The Online Dating Trap (One Woman’s Perspective)
A few years ago, with a need to fill a void left by the passing of my life partner, I stepped out of my comfort zone and joined the game of online dating. I tentatively posted my profile on one of the sites and began reading those of others.
It was a few weeks before I got even a bite, but once things began to move it turned into one hell of an emotional roller coaster ride.
I soon found it to be an addictive pastime that brought with it the desperate urge to turn on the computer to check e-mail messages the minute I walked through the door, no matter how tired I was or how stressful a day it’d been. Sometimes this brought relief to the stress; other times it increased it to dangerous levels.
Gerard was the first one to respond to my posting. He sounded very excited in his first e-mail, expressing how interesting I sounded and how much we had in common. We started exchanging a few e-mails, and then tried the chat online, but it wasn’t working very well. Finally, I just gave him my phone number and he called me. We chatted for nearly an hour about travel and hiking and outdoor activities, all things that we both enjoyed. We did indeed sound very compatible, so we arranged to meet for coffee in a couple of days. In the meantime, we exchanged more e-mails.
He revealed that he was retired from a position in Human Resources. He had moved from the bigger city about four years ago. He’d been divorced for two years. He had no children and had no desire to have any at this point in his life.
When the time came for our meeting, I was feeling nervous, but confident. I believed I had a lot to offer the right person. I entered the coffee shop and looked around the area, but could see no one that matched Gerard’s description. Rather than sit at a table, I figured I’d be easier to spot if I were standing, so I got into line to buy an Icedcap. Then I saw a tall, slim man in faded blue jeans heading in my direction and scanning the crowd. I stepped out of line and approached him.
“Yes. Judy?” He extended his hand. “Nice to finally meet you”
I was impressed. Although he had described himself as “no movie star”, he really was quite attractive despite his thinning grey hair and beard. He had beautiful blue yes that looked straight into mine.
We picked up our coffee and found a quiet table to begin our attempt to get to know each other.
Another hour passed. Being rather shy with new people I tend to do more listening and observing. I let Gerard do most of the talking. He had lots of questions.
“Do you like to read?” he asked.
“Yes I do,” I replied, “but I haven’t had time to do much for quite awhile except for the motivational books I’ve had to read for my sales job. I’d like to start reading for pleasure again though.”
Although I was an avid reader, I could think of neither titles nor authors of books I had enjoyed reading before my life had become so hectic. He suggested an author that he enjoyed and I thanked him. I tried to make a mental note of it.
Do you like wine?” said Gerard.
It amazed me how many people were wine drinkers. For years I’d sipped at various types that were handed to me, just to be sociable, but unless it was a very sweet brew, (which it usually wasn’t) I didn’t really care much for it. I decided this time to be honest. “No, I don’t really like it. I don’t care for beer at all either. I don’t drink much, but if I do, I prefer a mixed drink”
“Oh. I make my own wine. I enjoy spending my evening sitting with a good book and sipping a good glass of wine.”
Damn! “That’s ok. I don’t mind if other people drink, just as long as you don’t drink too much. You don’t do you?” I stammered. I quickly explained that I’d once dated someone who made his own wine and drank so much of it that I suspected he was an alcoholic, then I gave myself another mental kick.
At times he caught me off guard, unable to give a quick answer, which he seemed to expect, but being a romantic optimist, I wasn’t too concerned. I thought that once we’d gotten past this first awkward meeting, we’d spend more relaxed time together when we’d naturally discover more details about each other. I was a little disappointed when he suddenly said he had to leave to get back to painting his house. He didn’t suggest another meeting, but said we’d do some more e-mailing. Still, I went home smiling.
But it was a few days before he agreed to meet again, this time for a walk in a park. Another hour spent chatting. Again he had more questions.
“I like to go on long hikes. Have you done much hiking?”
I had already told him during our first phone conversation about my experiences hiking for two days while in Thailand, so I didn’t want to repeat myself.
“Yes, I was a Girl Guide leader for 10 years and led the girls on many nature hikes,” I replied.
“But you didn’t take them on day long hikes, did you? That’s my kind of hiking,” he countered.
We climbed up a grassy knoll and he suddenly stopped and pointed to the ground.
“What’s that?” he asked. Before I realized what it was he was pointing to and could recall the name of the wild flower, he’d already answered his own question. “It’s Chickweed.”
We passed a cultural building and in the window hung a large Dream Catcher. He asked me what it was. I was happy to explain it to him, although I was surprised that he wouldn’t have known. Was that another test?
At the time I didn’t notice it, but in retrospect I saw that he seemed to be testing me and trying to find fault. He was even a little sarcastic. The next day he sent me an e-mail saying that he didn’t think we were compatible, that I didn’t share his interests. When I questioned him about that he complained that I didn’t like wine, I didn’t read much, I didn’t like opera (I’d answered that question by saying I hadn’t had the opportunity to go to an Opera, but was open to new experiences), I didn’t like to hike or canoe. Except for the wine, none of it was true. It became apparent that he had “interviewed” me the way he would someone applying for a job. He’d expected certain answers to his questions. When I didn’t answer quickly or fully enough, I lost points!
I was devastated. It was a real blow to my ego because never before had I been so bluntly rejected. I knew he was wrong about me, but still it took me a few days to start believing it again. Dating had certainly changed a lot in the past five years and this online dating thing was a whole new ball game.