by Stacia Friedman

The first I learned about Facebook Dating was from a billboard at the Upsal Train Station. It just had two words. Facebook. Dating.

I knew what Facebook was, an addictive form of avoiding work, housecleaning and feeding my cat while indulging in videos about the impossible cuteness of baby hedgehogs. I also knew what dating was. Something from which I retired several years ago, thank you very much. As a Boomer, I never did the “dating” thing. No one called me on a Wednesday to ask if I was free Saturday night for dinner and a movie. It was more transactional. Me Jane. You not-quite-Mick Jagger but close enough.

Which is why I was equally perplexed and fascinated by online dating. It appealed to my notion of spontaneity. All these potential partners just an app away!  But then what? Eventually, I had to get past the novelty of my cellphone pinging with every “match” and actually meet “Adventurous Accountant.” 

Having cycled through JDate and Match.com several times before, I can testify that this is where 99% of matches fail to gel.  While my prospective dates may look like their photos, they tended to mistake me for someone else — their therapist, bartender or divorce lawyer. I was often tempted to recommend an adjustment in meds, cutting back on booze and a restraining order.

Instead of meeting strangers at Starbucks, I went in another direction. Spending time with friends doing things I enjoyed: cooking, concerts, politics, art, films. And, yes, long walks on the beach. In other words, all the things dating sites promise but rarely deliver.

So, what made me, an otherwise rational human being, hurl myself back into online dating under the auspices of Facebook? You could say head trauma. That’s what the Emergency Room doctor at Chestnut Hill Hospital called it as she stapled the wound on my skull. While walking on wet leaves in front of my house, I had lost my footing and executed a perfect back flip, landing head first on the sidewalk. The CAT scan said I didn’t have a concussion, but I felt a heightened sense of vulnerability. Along with vertigo and the feeling I had been hit on the head by a ball peen hammer.

My doctor instructed me to give my brain “a rest.” No TV, computer or reading. Lying on my sofa in a darkened room for days, I came to a startling, and highly unrealistic, conclusion. I needed to “get out there” again. I needed to DATE!

I signed up for the Facebook Dating app, knowing this isn’t what my doctor had in mind. However, I assure you that filling out their dating profile required very few brain cells. Facebook automatically uploaded my photo and filled in the basics using info they had previously collected. I mean, really, what doesn’t Facebook know about all of us?

Unlike other dating sites, Facebook did not ask for preferences which became apparent as I cruised their matches for me. A large proportion had neck tattoos, shaved heads and a preoccupation with pumping iron.  Many wore sunglasses which indicated they had wives or outstanding arrest warrants.

It dawned on me that no woman has to be alone, but that doing so might reduce her chances of ending up on Dateline.  Under the influence of 600 mg of Tylenol and the ice pack on my head, I managed to “like” two of my matches. One was a doctor in Cherry Hill. The other was an attractive guy whose was born somewhere in France.

After several exchanges of texts, I spoke with both men on the phone. The doc exuded enormous excitement at the prospect of meeting me. From just my photo and the fact that I was a freelance writer? He agreed to schlep all the way to my neighborhood to meet me at the Chestnut Grill.  Fine.

Meanwhile, my other match revealed that he was not actually French, as I had assumed, but from Trinidad. He was a bus driver with the seductive, velvety voice of a TV commercial for a Caribbean couples resort. He invited me to meet him in Center City for lunch. I agreed. The prospect made me giddy. However, the next day I cancelled. I don’t know if the swelling of my brain had diminished or if I had simply come to the realization that I didn’t know what to say to a bus driver other than “Have a nice day.”

Instead, I concentrated on the doctor who seemed laser focused on me. But his frequent texts began to strike me as simplistic and presumptuous. He wrote: “You are going to like me! I am not like any man you’ve ever known.” Whoa! What made him think he knew anything about my love life?

Then came a text that waved a red flag. “I am looking for romance.” Was that code for casual sex? Wanting to give him the benefit of the doubt, I told him I am looking initially for “friendship” which, over time, may develop into an exclusive relationship. He countered, “But sometimes it’s fun to just dive in.” Uh oh. Then he said was “hopping in the shower” and sent me a photo of his naked torso. No head. No crotch. Just the chest of a 62-year-old man.

While another woman may have gleefully ripped off her clothes and sent him a nude selfie, I slammed on the brakes. I cancelled our date. In retrospect, he was correct. He wasn’t like any man I had ever known. Other than former Congressman and convicted felon Anthony Weiner.

The staples on my head have been removed and, in their place, is a thick scab which allows my scalp to heal. Along with my heart.

Stacia Friedman is a Mt. Airy resident, author and freelance writer whose humorous essays have been published in numerous publications and websites.

...