Two of my friends have sons who are to be married soon. The mothers of the grooms are ecstatic because both their sons are over the age of 35 and were dangerously close to becoming confirmed bachelors.
I asked the first how her son met his intended. She blushed becomingly and whispered, “On the internet! Isn’t that awful.” She made a face as she said it to let me know she didn’t approve. Two days later my second friend called to tell me her 49 year old son was finally getting married for the first time.
“Let me guess. Did they meet on-line?” I asked.
“Can you believe it!?” she shrieked.
I can, and I’ll tell you why. For a brief spell I succumbed to an internet dating episode that was heady and addictive.
When I was newly single after 28 years of marriage, I let a well intentioned friend talk me into surfing the net for a suitor. Against my better judgment I went along. It started off to be really fun. You sign onto this service that allows you to place an order for a date like you would a pizza. You get to pick all the toppings. Hey, this is great! I ordered up a 6’2” blond who lives within 200 miles of Starkville. He had to be a a lover of music and good food and around 45 years old. (Hold on, now. I decided to go with a younger man this time around.)
So, anyhow, we waited about five minutes and the computer spit out five names. One was a judge in Alabama who sounded a little stuffy, the other was a pretty boy who wore lots of chains around his neck I selected an executive with a company in Memphis (no picture, but he said he loved gardening as do I).
Well, let me tell you. What ensued was a whirlwind fling in cyberspace. We began to e-mail several times a day. He was witty and intuitive and we chatted about everything under the sun. We shared recipes and gardening tips. It was almost a “relationship”. Then after several weeks, my curiosity got the best of me and when he suggested a meeting, I reluctantly agreed.
Here was the plan. We would meet at Books-a-Million in a town midway between the two of us. A well lighted public place shouldn’t pose too much of a threat to either of our safety. I mean after all, I could be the Mississippi strangler for all he knew. He would be wearing a leather bomber jacket and I would be wearing a string of pearls. (And clothes, of course.)
I drove to the meeting with sweaty hands. Oh, my gosh. Was I really doing this?
I nervously began wandering around Books-a-Million. There was only one man in the store wearing a bomber jacket and he was way too short…about five feet, three inches, I calculated. But he was blond. He looked up from the cookbook he was reading and gave me a slow smile. Oh, my gosh. He was so…well, short. He walked up, stood on his tiptoes and asked “Are you Emily?” I reached down and pumped his hand trying to collect myself.
“Hmmmmhuh. I guess,” I mumbled. It was like getting the pizza you ordered, but it had been dropped on the floor and all the toppings were jumbled up. We sat down with a cup of coffee and you know what? He was just as he seemed in his e-mails – witty, delightful really, until he began to tell me about his “problem”. This man was undergoing counseling for split personality disorder. He had six in all and I’m not sure which one I was with. The hair on the back of my neck began to stand up all by itself and as I tried in vain to smooth it down. I glanced outside to make sure my car was there, waiting for a fast get-away.
I often wonder if he was disappointed that my “blond” hair had melted to a pale gray. Now, let’s see. What did I do with that e-mail address for the stuffy judge in Alabama.