Author’s note: I wrote recently of my early adventures in the wild world of online dating. To say that my take was a subjective one is a massive understatement. Fortunately, a woman I met in the course of that process was willing to share her own perspective, so you get a more balanced view and I get treated, I hope, with tolerance and only fond sarcasm.–John Rodat
I can’t stop watching 30 Rock.
Every night I am at the side of my pal Liz Lemon as she struggles with the nutty people in her life, the unjust people of Manhattan and an array of potential romantic partners.
Together we admit and embrace our flaws, pine for slovenly delights, take weak stands against social injustice and hope to someday share our lives and love. We admit and embrace our flaws, we are intrinsically kind, we are dorks, we are awesome!
I identify with Liz Lemon in a lot of ways.
She is a beautiful, successful, young woman building her life in the greatest city in the world. I am a not horrible looking older woman who works for a not for profit and am rebuilding my life while living in an old farmhouse on 130 acres of land in upstate New York.
Clearly we are besties.
What is also not striking about our similarities is that while Liz is dating her way around Manhattan, looking for her Astronaut Mike Dexter, I too am dating my way around . . . The Capital Region of New York State.
Yup, at 48 years of age I am dating for the first time in my life. I am compelled, for some reason that eludes me, to seek companionship, and since I live with the trees and the animals and I work in a building filled with women and children, I have chosen to date . . . (trumpet honk) online!
I imagine it’s because of my age (when I was in my 20s there was no internet) and my inexperience (men had previously just walked into my life and fell in love with me) but, choosing to date online was a pretty big leap for me. I’m not a Luddite nor am I culturally ignorant, but I have decidedly lived more of my life in the physical world than the digital one, so I was pretty unsure about how to go about it and what I might be getting into.
I had “the conversation” with a few people who are closest to me.
Me: “I’m thinking of trying to date online.”
Loved One: “Oh.”
Loved One: “So and So met online and they got married!”
Marriage is not my goal, and hooking up is not my goal (I am not opposed to sex at all but am not so grotesque that I can’t get laid if I just stay late enough at some bar) so, only really knowing about Match and Tinder, I went with Match.
I took some selfies, trying to make sure I was representing myself fairly and accurately and I wrote a profile.
Me: “I had to write a paragraph describing myself, It was difficult.”
Loved One: “Did you write that you are rude?”
Me: “I said I am irreverent.”
Loved One: “Is that another word for rude?”
Suddenly I am able to shop for men within a 50 mile radius while laying in bed drinking coffee, and I am struck first by a couple of things.
I am a shallow monster. Guy wearing dress up polo shirt . . . nope. Dudes taking photos of themselves in the car while wearing mirror sunglasses . . . nope. Fellas holding up giant dead fish . . . no, thank you. In my age bracket, men seem to have become mostly the same doughy contented Christian who prefers a quiet night at home on the couch, or . . . for fucks sake throw away that tribal/hot rod flame bowling shirt and listen to something other than arena rock. I am comfortably sorting human beings based upon the most arbitrary ridiculous things and genuinely feel that it is the most effective approach. Like my best friend Liz said, they could be a serial killer, or worse, they could wear a thumb ring.
People are sad and lonely and I cannot help them. I was inundated with messages from men whom were very lonely, very needy and very awkward, and because I am not actually a monster I found it very hard to reject them, because they are people, with feelings, that are really making themselves vulnerable. Eventually I realized that it was not reasonable to tell each one of them “no, thank you”, so, I’ve learned to ignore them. (I have decided to bury the implications of that strategy being socially acceptable deep down to be dealt with at a later date.)
To be fair, I am a 48 year old, short, round bottomed, atheist. I have never been married and have not had children. I may be bitter (or irreverent or sardonic or rude). My career history borders on gypsy. I am not delicate or fancy or passive. Essentially, I’m an acquired taste, like black coffee, bourbon, brussel sprouts . . . ya know, bitter things that if you have the stomach for them you eventually love very deeply!
Point is, I am making observations about these men, not judgements. I am fully aware that I am not easily lovable.
So, I strike up some conversations and I go on some dates. I find that men that are my age, and are interested in the kinds of things I am, are dating younger women. I find that men that are older than me are mostly boring and creepy. I find that nice fellas my age are too nice and needy which makes them unattractive to me, or worse, they try way too hard with terrible innuendo and vapid compliments.
I feel hopeless (and you would be right to assume that I am not a particularly hopeful person to begin with) but I persevere.
Liz eventually finds Kriss. Yes, it’s a point that his name has that particular spelling, and it is possible that he may have a tan line from–could it be–a thumb ring. The scenes between them depicting the companionship warms my cold dark heart.
I have not been as successful. Though I did go on a few dates with a very funny gentleman who made me really laugh, had very common interests, (but with enough deviation to create long enjoyable conversation), who seemed to find my rudeness tolerable. Unfortunately, before I was able to see if there could be more to it, he found his Astronaut Mike Dexter, or his Kriss or maybe he just didn’t want to tell me that he didn’t like my thumb ring. Whatever the case may be, I previously didn’t even believe I would come that close!
So, let’s not say I’m hopeful, but I suppose I will continue to shop, half heartedly, for a kindhearted charming monster to be my special friend.