Everyone thinks about Internet dating, right? But you’re afraid you’ll only meet weirdos, or psychopaths, or people who lie about their physical appearance. And I, as a certified Internet Dating Expert, just want to tell the people with those fears…that they are absolutely right. Here’s the first time I learned that lesson…
Oh, also, I’m not certified. At all.
Here we go…
About three years ago, I walked into a bar and said hello to the girl of my dreams. Well, the real-life version of the girl of my dreams anyway. The computer one, the one I had gotten to know over two weeks of emails, was spectacular: gorgeous long golden hair, great smile, amazing figure, quirky sense of humor and a lover of Mets baseball and British comedy. In fact, I believe I have a picture of her around here somewhere…ah, yes, here it is…
Like that. She looked exactly like that. Doesn’t get any better, right? Well, actually, it doesn’t even get as good, because the girl who showed up seemed to be a totally different person. Real life girl’s hair was black and short, her lips were tight and angry, and her figure was like…hmmm…I don’t want to trash people’s appearance. This isn’t that kinda site and I’m no beauty myself, but for the mere sake of documenting history, let’s say…she looked like a brick in pants. Here, I did a quick little sketch to the best of my memory, have a look for yourself…
There she was. Now, I don’t know if she actually liked the New York Mets, but it certainly looked like she could’ve played for them at some point in the past few years. Catcher, probably. Maybe first base if she was deceptively agile. And she smelled a little like onion rings.
But all of that, honestly, was OK. Truly. So what if she fudged her pictures a bit? Once we got past the whole, awkward foundation-built-on-lies thing, she still looked just fine. And I am nothing if not a sophisticated and enlightened man of substance. I do not dwell on matters of physical appearance or personal hygiene (unless she’s a real bowzer), because I am mature. I’m looking for something more than skin deep. And what really made Miss Lucy the girl of my dreams was not just her looks, but also her disposition. She taught deaf children, you see, day in and day out. Had for years, and described it as the defining experience of her adulthood. This was a girl I had to know, right? Right. So despite all the surprises, all the clear instances of Lucy not being what she had advertised, I was still intrigued. And, again, like my tattoo says, I’m not such a prize a myself. So I bided my time, then, after the first drink, I went for the heart…
Me: So how did you get into teaching deaf children? That must be so challenging, and just an amazing-
Miss Lucy: Oh, I didn’t want to really, but it costs less to get a degree in teaching the deaf than it does to teach normal kids, so I figured, “why not?”
Me (mulling over “normal” word choice): …Oh? Do they give out government grants or something?
Miss Lucy: Yeah, and now I know why. It sucks. The thing about deaf kids is that they can’t hear you, like, at all. It gets really frustrating. Sometimes I just kinda give up.
Me: That seems…wait, you give up?
Miss Lucy: Well, yelling doesn’t work because they’re deaf, you know? They don’t really prepare you for that in the classes. So sometimes it’s easier to just take a break for a few minutes and play some music. Hell, they don’t mind. It’s not like they can hear it.
Me (looking around to see if anyone else is getting this): Yeah, no that must be-
Miss Lucy: I just do it so I can have money for AC.
Miss Lucy: Atlantic City. I kinda have a thing for blackjack. I go down every Friday and play through the weekend. When I save up enough I’m gonna quit teaching and become a professional blackjack player. Gambling is so much more fun than working with deaf kids. And you’re allowed to drink.
Me: Sure, I guess that makes-
Miss Lucy: In fact, we could go down to AC this weekend and play some cards if you’re up for it.
Me: Do you smell onion rings?
Then, of course, I proposed.
It’s good that this was my first Internet date, because honestly that’s a pretty good indication of what I could expect going forward. Every night has the potential to be horrifying, hilarious, thrilling, and completely preposterous all at once when you’re dating online, and the great thing is – you never have to see the person again. So yeah, I know you’re a little afraid, but keep this in mind when considering joining the universe of computer romance: no matter how badly it goes, at the end of the night you can say goodbye to the cretin for the rest of your life. Could you look for a mate in person, going from to bar to bar and trying out your earth-shatteringly alluring pick-up game? I guess, but what’s the fun in that? Internet dating is something bigger. It’s like being part of a phenomenon – a terrifying and almost certain to fail phenomenon that very well might leave you with herpes. But a phenomenon nonetheless. And you know that no matter what happens, no matter how badly it goes, how silly you look when your jokes fail or you insult people with physical disabilities, that tomorrow night you get a fresh start. Tomorrow you can go out with someone new, someone who has no idea how ridiculous you looked the night before. And for a jackasses like us, that’s pretty valuable currency.
Plus, you do accumulate some pretty good stories…