80’S CANCER JAM OF THE DAY:
Since I’ve been married for over 20 years, I’ve missed the online dating craze. You know, Plenty of Toads, MeatMarket.com, Dis-Harmony. I guess I haven’t really missed much when you peruse the fabulous assortment of maladjusted, sunlight-deprived pedophile rejects that troll these sites. Still, I have a morbid curiosity about this mysterious dating buffet.
I have friends with Master’s degrees in online dating. They’ve been on some of these sites so long that they are earning royalties. They entertain me with war stories from the front lines. For example, my friend Em recently started chatting with a nice-looking, professional man who had all the right stuff in his profile. He was athletic, witty, and charming. After the required e-mail and phone conversations, they decided it was time for a date.
Em and her gentleman friend agreed to meet at a local restaurant for lunch. About an hour before the date the guy called to tell her that he had been helping a friend put an engine in his car and it was taking longer than he expected. He hated to leave his friend in the lurch with no transportation, so he had to stay and finish the job. He apologized up and down and promised they would reschedule for the next day.
Although she was now on creep alert, Em started over the next day with her face primer and spackle and went to the restaurant on time. Twenty minutes later, an old beater of an Impala came backfiring into the parking lot with the vinyl top blowing in the wind. “Please God, don’t let this be him”, she prayed. No such luck. He stepped out of the car in his best Christmas in July attire, a wrinkled red shirt and green shorts with ragged sneakers. She could see the 5-day growth of stubble on his chin from 50 yards away. “At least he dressed up”, she muttered under her breath.
He walked into the restaurant with that lost puppy look in his eyes. She thought about ignoring him and blending into the background, but that damned honesty thing always seemed to vex her. After an awkward greeting, he joined her at a table in the bar. He spoke to her for roughly 2 minutes and then stared intently at the football game on the television. She tried to get his attention.
Em: “Well, why don’t we have a beer?” (Translation: Are you going to even offer to buy me a drink, you disheveled tightwad?)
Loser: “Oh, no thanks, I’ll just have water. I’m not in the mood.” (Translation: I’m saving my money for a new vinyl top.)
Deciding quickly that she was going to need a lot of alcohol to get through this date, Em ordered her own beer. After what seemed like an eternity, he motioned for the waitress. “Finally, she thought, he’s going to order us some food. I’m starving!” The waitress appeared, pad in hand. “Are you folks ready to order?” He pointed to the menu. “Oh, nothing heavy for me. Can we just get an order of the onion rings?” Em looked at him in disbelief. This was going downhill fast, if that was possible. The waitress lingered at the table, not quite knowing what to say. Em piped up, “And I’ll have the cheeseburger plate, please.”
The date continued on with sparse snippets of conversation whenever Em could sneak them in between plays in the football game. Loser would look at his watch from time to time, as if he were late for a mismatched clothes convention somewhere. The two beers Em had finished off by now were not even putting a dent in her boredom. Mercifully, loser motioned for the waitress to bring the check. He looked down at his watch and spoke his first complete sentences of the afternoon. “Well, boy, it’s getting late. I promised some friends I’d go fishing with them at 3, and I really have to get going.” Em thought to herself, “How will I live if you go now?”
The waitress brought the check over and placed it in front of loser on the table. “I’ll take that whenever you’re ready, Sir.” Without missing a beat, he replied, “Oh, no, I only had the onion rings. The rest of that is hers.” Both Em and the waitress dropped their jaws in unison, and Em almost spewed her last sip of beer. He dropped a $5 bill on the table and stood up. “That should take care of it. I really enjoyed it. Let’s do dinner soon.” And with that, he strolled out of the restaurant and got back in the sloppy jalopy.
It took a while for Em to recover from the loser incident, but I’m happy, or not so happy, to say that she’s back on the horse, dating away.
I’ve often wondered what my “profile” would say if I were to venture into Em’s world. Especially now. Maybe it would read something like this:
SEEKING AN OPEN-MINDED PRINCE CHARMING WHO ISN’T HUNG UP ON THE SUPERFICIAL THINGS IN LIFE…LIKE BOOBS OR HAIR. I’M DOWN TO EARTH, EASY TO PLEASE, AND I’VE MET MY OUT OF POCKET DEDUCTIBLE FOR THIS YEAR! I ENJOY WALKING IN THE RAIN (WHEN MY BLOOD COUNTS ARE GOOD) AND DAYS WITHOUT NAUSEA. LET’S HAVE COFFEE OVER CHEMO.
See ya on the dating sites.