Oh, the Places you’ll Go!

(Or, Oh, the Joys of Online Dating!)

Off and on since the mid-to-late 90’s, I have been a fan of getting to know people online, either through message boards, chat services, or more recently, online dating. There is just something about the game of it all – trying to create a face to match the words, figure out which tone and inflection they meant, if their speaking voice matches their written one, and if what they wrote was meant with a smile (or a sneer).

Not all of the people I met were with an eye towards romance. Sure, some were, but many weren’t – most were met because we shared a love of music or dance. Between the “were” and “weren’ts”, almost all of them I can count among (real-life) friends to this day.

Today most of my online networking is to keep in touch with friends, to learn more about photography and writing, and, I admit, dating. When I get a “ding” notifying me that I have new mail, it is true that I get just a touch giddy. Clicking on that unread message I never know what I will pull out of the grab bag. Sometimes it’s a new tip on how to better frame a photograph, other times it is letting me know I caught someone’s eye.

And those eye-catching moments can be oh so much fun. Words and witticisms fly fast and furious from our fingertips. Thought, innuendo, and intent leap from the page into our mind. And at times all of the online back and forth can live and breathe in real life. When the written intimation turns to real intimacy writ large on our bodies.

But sometimes those eye-catching moments are nothing more than a bit of sand, stuck under your contact lens. Take, for example, my most recent date.

On paper he was great. A shared sense of humour and of music. A love of children and animals. But then … then, we actually met. It was innocuous, really. A Starbucks located about halfway between where we both live. And then?

He started talking.

What follows will never, ever, compare to the date who brought a date … to the date. (The woman who wrote this continues to amaze me.)

The first flag should have been the fingernails. They were long. And dirty.

Let me say, I do love long nails. And dirty ones. (Preferably if the long nails are on a woman, and the dirty ones are because of working in the yard or on a car.) But these? These reminded me of my coffee-shop days, hanging out with junkies and the quasi-homeless. Unkempt, they were. And my first reaction was to be verklempt. Brushing it off, I went inside and grabbed some caffeine.

Once back on the patio, and barely two sips into my iced-coffee, we started off with the whole, “what do you do again?” opener. As soon as I mentioned “title insurance”, it was off to the races. He asked if that had to do with title to a house. That right there, gave him points, since many people don’t know what, exactly, title insurance is. He wanted to know if there was a way to get rid of a neighbor.

Okay … ?

“Why so?”, I asked. (I mean, who wouldn’t? There HAS to be a story here. And, boy howdy, was there a story. Plus many more to come.)

“Well, when I was 3 the guy across the street raped me, and then, when I was 6 his son molested me. And right now the son is still there and he is running a meth house. Since the cops are no longer corrupt, but just lazy, we can’t really call and complain. So, it’s really not a place where my son can go out and play. And I want to get rid of them.”

Wow.

Just. Wow.

How the fuck do I respond to THAT? Much nodding and murmuring ensued, and I hoped the noises and head bobbing were sympathetic.

After an hour I was told that I “don’t seem to be a real redhead”. (Because, in his experience, ALL redheads are off their rockers and certifiably insane.) “Is it your experience that all redheads have freckles?”

Uhm.

Well.

Maybe?

“I can only speak to my own experience, but most of the ones I know DO have freckles.”

“Oh, okay. Because the ones I know do have freckles, but they are all crazy.”

I couldn’t respond, because when you try to convince someone else of your mental wellbeing, it just makes you appear … well, crazy. So, again, I nodded. After another story, when I said that I had to get going, so in order to fight traffic to head to Hollywood to see a friend perform, I was met with, “Wait, let me finish my story …”

I’m not sure if I should just hang up my hat and become the crazy cat-lady, or if I should just accept any date that comes my way; if only to hear the stories that come.

Because, shit …

… at least I’ll have something to talk about.

Later.

When I am not driving away, with my foot pressed on the gas pedal. And pleading to my car to please, please, just, “go, go, go! Get me out of here!” And hoping, “Oh lord. Please tell me he didn’t get my license plate number.”

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