Once upon a time, before I was married and then divorced, I had an online dating profile. My dad had suggested I sign up. I was in law school at the time and I freeloaded at my parents' house while I goofed off -- er, I mean studied. I'm fairly certain that if I didn't join, my dad's plan B was to sell me to the highest bidder. (He vehemently denies this.)
Despite my initial reluctance to join the site, I quickly became addicted. I logged on so frequently and clicked through so rapidly that I met the site's algorithm for "most popular." But, "popular" was a term of data. Almost all of my dates were first dates. I sat in constant judgment of each date, measuring him up against an unrealistic set of parameters as if Prince Charming, himself, would arrive on a white horse after giving Cinderella a pink slip. Since none of my dates were the Prince, I found fault with every last one. Though, in truth, the fault was always mine in the finding.
Years later, after a failed marriage and much soul-searching, my new improved self was ready to move on. So, I turned back to my trusty online site. Like me, the site had undergone some changes and upgrades in the intervening years. Among the newer questions, the site asked me to describe my perfect first date.
Because bad habits die hard, I was tempted to create a long list on scrolled parchment of my must-haves: a handsome, swarthy, non-smoking, gainfully-employed, single parent of good height and solid weight with black curly hair and long eyelashes over soulful eyes and a sly smile that hooks me in. He would let me control the parameters of the first date, yet he would propose what I had in mind without any clues from me. He would pay for a first drink, but he would sidestep the financial dance of expectations. He would be a man who would listen intently, nod appropriately, care deeply and share excitedly. In essence, I wanted a drop-dead gorgeous, empathetic, psychic mind-reader.
Well, my thought bubble on the matter popped as fast as a rainbow unicorn gallops. I remembered that having a long wish list did more harm than good on my first go around the dating wheel. Instead, what I really wanted most of all was the simple pleasure of company. I trashed the trailing scroll in the cerebral bin marked "fat chance."
I dared myself to agree to meet anyone who didn't seem like an ax-wielding psychopath, because, well, I had to have some standards, and I resolved to enjoy each date. I might learn something new, or gain a fresh perspective, or simply meet a very nice person worthy of my undivided, un-judgey attention.
A mere six weeks later, as I was settling in and really starting to enjoy this new dating strategy, wouldn't you know it, I ran smack into the guy from my scroll, the guy who puts the fictional Prince Charming to shame, the guy who couldn't possibly exist. Only, he did. . . and he was there to meet me.
That was two and a half blissful years ago, and I've been thanking my lucky stars ever after.
Meanwhile, somewhere in the suburbs, my dad is shouting, "hallelujah!"
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