She was right. Some of them were cute. Some weren’t,
but it didn’t matter, as I soon wanted nothing more than
to enter the world I saw unfolding before me, the world of
Getting out of a horrible relationship, begun one drunken night
in a bar, I was ready for something new, something that didn’t
involve martini goggles and inaudible conversations. Yes, all
right, something to get my mind off him. It helped that online,
I wouldn’t have to actually embark on any physical journey
with someone else.
The profiles I read were real enough to generate mild excitement,
but far enough away from reality to remain emotionally safe
and comfortably artificial. If a tree falls in the forest,
does anybody hear it? If you’ve never actually met a
person, do they exist? I asked myself this question, considering
it no longer than I do a nail color at the manicurist. Who
Just as people find themselves titillated by the voyeuristic
experience of reality TV, I found myself mentally engaged in
online dating. This archive of faces, screen names, and catalog
personality descriptions became my very own reality show. In
it, I was the bachelorette, only without a stylist, good lighting,
or the comforts of a multimillion dollar mansion.
Immediately, I could deduce whether these bachelors fit my
qualifications. Often their profile titles or screen names
were enough to send my agile fingers reaching towards the delete
button. Lonely Knight in Shining Armor seeks Damsel in Distress:
no thanks! The only distress I’d find would be in wasting
a minute to read the profile (though I’d rather waste
a minute on a poorly written profile than on a 45-cent cell
phone call to some stranger from last Thursday’s happy
Then I’d receive e-mails from 5-foot 5-inch tall men
who couldn’t distinguish there from their or its from
it’s. I’m 5’9, so those shorter than 5’11
needed not apply. I’m a writer, and well, you get it.
Others weren’t quite so bad at first, but then I’d
take a closer look and see that they, like every other poor
sap online, liked sunsets and walks on the beach. Who doesn’t
enjoy a sunset or walk on the beach, I wondered? Cliché attempts
at originality and romance had me deleting more than I was
Then, I saw him.
His screen name was unique. He was 6’1. He was 29. (I’m
almost 23 and have never and probably never will date a younger
man.). He liked anything that was “inspired and not contrived.” He
had dogs. His picture: handsome and masculine, revealing eyes
that had seen things. He became my fantasy.
I sent him an icebreaker, Emode’s free communication
tool to let someone know you’re interested.
I sent him another a week later.
No reply still.
I needed him to exist so that I could continue fantasizing.
How could he be the star of my daydreams if I had nothing to
build upon? I wanted him to develop, like a character in a
So, I made a sacrifice to the god’s of capitalism and
e-commerce. I paid $19.95 for a one-month membership to Emode,
so that I could send him an e-mail. I laced the e-mail with
quotes from Anais Ninn and The Alchemist.
He wrote back.
This was a week ago. He’s sent me four or five emails
thus far, and he’s actually intelligent, funny, and dark.
He’s got good taste in music. He thinks. He feels. He
played basketball in college. He writes well. He’s still
my fantasy, and he’s becoming real enough to keep me
Everywhere I go I wonder if I’ll run into him. I wonder
if I’ll catch his eye across a dimly lit restaurant.
I wonder if I’ll see him in a passing car as I walk along
In fact, I thought I saw him the other night. Handsome, tall,
with intelligent eyes. He was talking animatedly with another
man and a woman.
He looked at me. I looked back.
Not about to approach a stranger with, “Are you….from emode?” I
walked by silently.
I’m afraid to meet him anyway. The fantasy that is him could easily be
demolished if his tree fell in my forest. I’m not sure if I want that disappointment.
This man is perfect, and all women know that perfect men don’t exist.
Regardless, he’s helped me get over the ex.
He, the ex, called me. I didn’t call back. He, the ex, text messaged me.
I didn’t text back. He, the ex, e-mailed. I didn’t reply. I was too
busy writing to a fantasy.
The failed bar-based relationship still hurts, but I have
hope. Online dating will, at the very least, keep me entertained.