A few years back I looked around at my life. Divorced, 50-something, empty-nest, well-paying job, but no male companionship beyond friends. Despite my suspicions, I thought maybe there was a Prince Charming out there. Not too close mind you. Long-distance dating was fine, my daily routine was hectic enough. Someone to get together with for dinner, a movie, a weekend activity such as kayaking or even riding.
Even I know, you can’t get something for nothing. I immediately ignored all the “free” sites, and compared what a monthly subscription to eHarmony or Match.com entailed. Later I heard of Our Time which caters to folks over 50, but I doubt it would have produced any different results. It felt a little like going on PetFinder; so many faces but who was behind them?
I was impressed with the structure and focus on privacy offered by eHarmony. There was an elaborate process of filling out forms and questionnaires. Once you are registered, potential suitors are held behind a glass wall. Until you step through their designated hoops of “courtship,” no info is shared. I felt pretty safe and relaxed about it. I had certain criteria that I knew were non-negotiable. It narrowed the field considerably.
The first and only match that I pursued was a guy in southern California. A teacher, who had a well-known movie to his credit. Our correspondence via email and the occasional phone call allowed us to slowly explore each other’s worlds from afar. Photos were easily obtained. He was handsome, in a Latin way and soft-spoken. Even his name had a movie star ring to it, though I won’t divulge it here and will only refer to him as “V.” I liked that he worked with kids and had a close relationship with his son after his divorce.
A trip to Los Angeles, to apartment hunt with my daughter Lex, was the first opportunity to meet face-to-face. After a hectic day of traversing the city, viewing rentals of and checking out neighborhoods, Lex and I settled back at our hotel. I was tired but agreed to meet V at a nearby family run Bodega. I took Lex along for protection and her innate good judgement. The meal was nothing to write about; the conversation bright and interesting. Lex didn’t give him a thumbs down, so I when I got home we continued talking and writing.
My second visit to CA came a few months later. Lex was settled and I was coming through town on business. V and I agreed to dinner then he would drive me to the airport for my flight home. Dinner went well but the cocktails were flowing too heavily. I was watching the clock, concerned about notorious Los Angeles traffic and making my flight. Finally, I suggested taking a taxi. V was obviously impaired and becoming difficult. He refused to let me call a cab; it was a tense and scary drive but I made my flight. eHarmony had sent me an email wanting to know how our relationship was going and suggested we might be spokes-models for an upcoming campaign. Um, no thanks. This is definitely over.
Six months later, I screwed up my courage and signed up with Match.com. After wading through too many emails from cross-country truckers and beer-swilling mechanics, (what about my profile ever made them think we had anything in common?) I found a potential date. Match was less hassle and quicker to the meeting part. I also relaxed my two most important rules – distance and must have kids.
This guy was from VT, not across the country but not close enough to stalk me regularly should things go badly. He was a successful artist with a line of pottery he no long made personally, an avid tennis player (alarm bell, first husband was a tennis player), and though he had never been married he said he helped raise a long-time girlfriend’s teen-aged daughter. Our emails and conversations involved a shared love for our rural lifestyles and the outdoors. He claimed to be able to handle a horse, and wasn’t bad on the eyes so I agreed to dinner. Here’s where the distance thing became a problem. He really wanted to try a new restaurant near me. It was about an hour and a half drive for him and right down the road for me. For some reason I agreed to meet at my house before dinner.
You know when you meet someone and there is instant fireworks? You just look at each other and feel the spark? Well this was the text-book opposite. He had an ego the size of Montana and immediately started trying to one-up my house, my vehicle, my dog, my furnishings, pretty much everything about my life. He was off to Aruba to dive next week. Didn’t everyone go to Aruba this time of year? Oh, that’s right, you have a job…
I agreed to drive and hustled him out to the restaurant. It wasn’t up to his usual standards and he made that perfectly clear to everyone who would listen, from the wait-staff to surrounding patrons. I felt like I was babysitting a really bad child. Dinner was as short as I could make it. We got the check and he made a huge effort to find his wallet. He must have left it in the car, which was at my house. OK, I paid for dinner with the promise he would reimburse me for his share when we got back to my house.
Once we hit my driveway, I tried to end the evening, not even caring about the cash which mysteriously did not come up again. He asked to use the bathroom before his long ride home. Then for a cup of coffee to stay awake. I said I didn’t drink coffee so he settled on a glass of water. I was actually getting nervous at this point. What an idiot! No one even knew to check on me for days if I was murdered in my own home. We sat by the fire as he sipped his water. He was droning on about tennis and travel and how wonderful his life was. Suddenly I saw his foot swing by my head. I jumped up and he was doing some sort of elaborate ham-string stretches. “What the hell was that?” I demanded.
“Just stretching after that rough tennis game today.”he replied. I herded him out, locked the door and turned out the lights. My dog and I watched as he wandered to his car, lit by the garage lights. His Subaru was not tall enough to disguise the fact that he relieved himself in the yard before driving away.
I don’t need a third attempt to realize, online dating is not for me.