by Stacia Friedman
I swore I would never do it. But during Labor Day Weekend, I snuck away from my long-married cousins and their charcoal-grilled burgers and icy Heinekens long enough to join an online dating site. Again.
Dating is awkward enough when you’re in your 20s or 30s. After 50? It offers the same odds as a blackjack table in Vegas. I placed my bet for a three-month membership on a dating site I’ll call MatingWorld.com. Giving them my credit card was easy. Writing my profile and answering their questions was as much fun as taking the GREs.
MatingWorld suggested I take a quiz that would color code my personality. Sixty multiple choice questions later, I was told I’m a “yellow.” I had always thought of myself as a mauve. Next, they revealed the men with whom I am a 100% match! My computer screen filled with postage stamp-sized photos of men who resembled my grandfather on his deathbed.
So, it was with apprehension and low expectation that I agreed to meet a guy named Sam for dinner. This broke one of my rules. Never agree to a first date that lasts more than 20 minutes. Just meet at a Starbucks where, if the vibe isn’t right, it doesn’t have to last longer than a double decaf latte with skim milk and extra foam. But Sam nixed my suggestion.
“I prefer dining at a nice restaurant,” he said, then named a pricey Italian place I had always wanted to try.
I figured what the hell. I could get through dinner with Mussolini if they served a great pasta carbonara with a crisp Pinot Grigio. As it turned out, it was a BYOB, and Sam didn’t bring wine.
“I don’t drink,” he stated flatly.
So much for our 100% compatibility. I was, however, relieved that Sam was the age, height and gender stated on his profile. But I soon started to wonder what exactly we had in common. I asked Sam about his work. It seems he had taken an early retirement. During his sophomore year of college.
“I dropped out and discovered my true passion,” he said. “Poker.”
Swell. MatingWorld had matched me up with Maverick. His favorite destination? Vegas. Newspaper? The Daily Racing Form. By the time our entrees arrived, I glumly accepted the fact that all I would get out of this date was an excellent meal. Without wine.
I made polite conversation. Expressed interest in his opinions. And never brought up a topic that would stretch beyond Sam’s “Wheel of Fortune” persona. That’s what nice women do. We make men feel good about themselves. Maybe too good.
That night, Sam sent me an email. In long, glowing paragraphs, he described in detail how he was sure that I was The One. He didn’t exactly call the caterers, but I could smell the lollipop lamb chops and chocolate fountain. The intensity of his enthusiasm had a familiar ring to it. I watch “Dateline.” This is how women are lured to their deaths.
“He was crazy about her,” said the grieving friend.
“It was a whirlwind courtship!” said the victim’s brother.
“I had a funny feeling about him all along,” said the detective.
Uh oh. Sam wasn’t the kind of person who would handle rejection well. I couldn’t tell him I don’t share his enthusiasm. What could I say that would cause him to lose total interest in me and move on to the next 100% MatingWorld match? I would tell him the truth.
“Hi, Sam?” I said on the phone. “I know we just met, but we have so much in common. Could you lend me $25,000 to pay my periodontist bill?”
The silence was golden.
Stacia Friedman is a satirist and novelist who resides in Mt. Airy.