by Mike Todd

“I can’t believe she dumped me for a LAWYER!” my friend Johnny said last week.

“What does it matter that he’s a lawyer?” I asked.

“It just makes it worse,” he replied.

Johnny is my connection to the dating world, a strange and fascinating place where complete strangers meet online, then come together over sushi to discover that they don’t like each other.

“Didn’t we spend our last three conversations going into great detail about how insane this girl was?” I asked.

“Yeah, but I still thought I had a chance,” he said. When you reach your mid-30s and are looking for a life partner, insanity is no longer a disqualifying personality trait.

A few weeks earlier, I talked to Johnny after he’d just gotten back from his first date with her. While we were talking, he received a text that read: “I think we can both agree that didn’t go so well.”

From that inauspicious beginning, things somehow got even less auspicious, with their brief relationship degenerating into multiple text battles, ugly words exchanged and, most bafflingly, more dates.

The rules must have changed since I was on the dating scene. My wife Kara and I have been together since the year 2000. Back then, cell phones were still used for making phone calls, and the Internet was still primarily used for circulating naked pictures of Jenny McCarthy.

Technology and dating seemed to purposefully have very little overlap. Dinners, for example, were often served by candlelight, even though light bulbs had recently been invented.

Back then, “text” and “friend” weren’t verbs, and “getting to second base” didn’t mean telling everyone on Facebook that you were “in a relationship.” That’s still not what “getting to second base” means, incidentally, but one could argue that tagging someone as your significant other on Facebook should at least count as a ground rule double.

After listening to Johnny’s stories from the front lines, it’s clear that I wouldn’t survive long in today’s dating world, especially if my wife found out. I don’t even have unlimited texting on my phone, so it would be especially disheartening to receive insulting messages from my dates afterwards. I’d have to pay 20 cents for each sprinkle of salt in my wound. Please break my heart via email, so that I can save the 20 cents to apply toward my next ill-fated spicy tuna roll.

“When we were in college, nobody had a real job, so that wasn’t even a factor. Now, if you’re not a lawyer or a CEO, you’re starting out with one strike against you. Why did that guy have to be a lawyer? Why?” he asked.

“I’m not sure being a lawyer is as awesome as you think it is. There are plenty of miserable lawyers. I suspect there’s one more in the world right now,” I said. Never mind that Johnny only knew this guy’s profession because he received a text stating: “I’m dating a lawyer now. I’d say ‘good luck,’ but I’m not sure you deserve it.”

There are plenty more fish in the sea besides jellyfish that sting with their text messages. And Johnny’s back to trolling for them, hopefully in saner waters this time, although Johnny has the equivalent of a doctorate degree in Suffering, so he may just be incapable of having a relationship that does not cause extreme pain.

Meanwhile, the biggest drama in my life is that our three-year-old might be starting to figure out what’s happening when my wife and I look at him and say, “Maybe it’s time for him to take an enn-ay-pee.” He might not know that we’re spelling N-A-P, but I think he’s starting to catch on, and it’s only a matter of time before enn-ay-pee and bee-ay-tee-aitch lose their clandestine power altogether.

How do parents communicate with each other after their kids learn to spell? Successful parenting is all about love and also subterfuge. Maybe I need unlimited texting after all.

After reading this column over again, I can see why Johnny and I spend more time talking about HIS problems.

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