And so ends my experience with the online personals: I must've contacted at least 150 women from all over the West Coast in their 40's and I don't know if its my location, age, looks, attitude, aptitude or my profile in general but they're not buying and I can't give it away. (How about trying women your own age you might ask and scary as that thought seems you might have a good point.) So here's the story from the first match.com date in September when she smacked me in the face midway through the second bottle of wine to the last greensingles date a few weeks ago when I inexplicably let a woman I had no chemistry with into my house at 11pm one night.
It all started last September when my neighbor was talking about putting a personal ad on match.com; he couldn't muster up a positive attitude through his slightly depressive fog and no matter how much I encouraged him, and told him I would help him write it, he demurred. Finally I beat him to it and put one in myself although I was hopelessly innocent, getting right to the core of things with my first profile that started out by saying, "I need an heir."
I connected with three women those first few days, emailed them and talked on the phone, and adjusted my schedule slightly to go up to Ukiah on a Saturday afternoon to meet them. One was a very friendly woman of 44 from Willits who had a children's clothing store in Ukiah, another was a 50 year old food stamp intake worker for the county, and the third was a 43 year old physical therapist with an extreme Texas drawl. (On the phone it took me an hour to get the food stamp worker to finally admit that she DID want sex, and that's why she put in the ad — my best friend once told me that my "evil side" is badgering people in denial to admit the obvious).
So off I went down highway 101, the winding wooded road along the Eel river toward Ukiah; I stopped in the clothing store and hung out with the proprietor for 45 minutes while all manner of mostly young mothers came by to buy and trade things for their children. At 5:30 I called the physical therapist to arrange our dinner or coffee or whatever she had in mind; I was wondering, as I sat in my car in her neighborhood, if we would meet in a neutral location or if she would invite me to her house (I seem to have a way of disarming women over the phone and email with my effusive openness and confessional style) which would be much more interesting. She called and invited me over for dinner and soon the first bottle of wine was opened. She didn't look as nice as her alluring picture but I am usually in some odd denial when first meeting so it didn't faze me or I didn't really notice. We sat in her backyard and after a glass or two of wine and conversation we took her dog for a walk around the neighborhood.
As we window shopped I took her hand and off we went down the street then back to her house. Behind her rental were two brand new vehicles in her garage, one a big purple jeep with actual longhorns attached to the front, but I wasn't impressed — I saw them as symbols of our consumer religion where people go way into debt over things they don't really need and can't afford. I knew right away she wasn't really a match but I was lonely and enjoy meeting people. She was getting some pre-packaged processed food ready to put into the convection oven, white flour products and fish from Costco, while I set to chopping up the cucumbers for salad. At one point I walked by her in the narrow foyer and briefly put my hands on her shoulders in a quasi-massage fashion.
She erupted. "Don't be humpin' my leg now!" We went back to making dinner, then ate it with me downing most of the fried negative value calories — she said she didn't want to eat till midnight. We went back out to the backyard I called a patio and opened another bottle of wine while she smoked another cigaret. We talked some more then smoked bowl in the kitchen. She started brushing my hair and put her hands on my chest a few times. I thought about saying something like, "Oh, so it’s okay for you to touch me whenever you want?" but I figured, well, maybe it really is a woman's prerogative in polite society?
She made a comment about how I would have to drive later and I told her I wasn't driving anywhere, I'd take a taxi to a motel if I had to.
"Well, you can sleep in my spare bedroom then," she said. "You know I'm partial to ya."
I told her about my supposedly unique pubic hair, that no less than two girlfriends had taken samples of, souvenirs, and she wanted to see it.
"C'mon," she said. "If you show me yours I'll show you mine!"
I'm still not quite sure why I turned that one down.
Back out on the patio we had another glass of wine and she leaned over and gave me a little closed-mouth kiss, as cigarette smokers are wont to do.
A few minutes later she said, "Oh, my Broadway dancer!"
Okay, anyone who knows me well knows I'm Mister Open, Captain Honesty and don't tolerate well any fabrication of reality, even harmless exaggerations. But earlier in our conversation I had told her I like to sing (true), that I liked to sing Broadway show tunes (also true — I know all the songs from Hair), and then I had told her I had been a Broadway dancer! Yes, I really said that!
"Look," I said. "I wasn't a Broadway dancer. I don't know why I said that, do I look like a Broadway dancer?"
Whack! She smacked me in the face. Not a slap, not a punch, but a well-placed smack.
"Wow, you're scary," I said, when my flinch subsided.
"You lied," she said.
"Do I look like a Broadway dancer?" I repeated.
"Yeah, you've got that long lanky build."
Now when you get smacked in the face on a first date that's usually considered a big, huge, no, humongous thing we like to call a Red Flag. (I must admit right after she smacked me I irrationally thought for an instant "Okay, now we are going to have sex!")
I suppose most people might have left right then but I have been known to do some impulsive things in the past so I guess I cut her some slack. (For example earlier that summer my cook/house cleaner/garden assistant had quit when during a heated discussion about my lack of happiness I had asked her what I'd been asking all my friends:
"If your life depended on my happiness what would you do?" I also told her she lied all the time, technically correct, but her little prevarications were all harmless and in reality she was the most honest and forthcoming person I know, and has always answered my most intrusive and personal questions. Supposedly bisexual, I once asked her what she liked to do with girls.
"Finger them,"she said.
I really think violence is never appropriate; she never apologized or gave me any reason to think she regretted her actions. I suppose a person with a modicum of self-respect or dignity would have left at that moment but dammit I hate motels, especially Ukiah motels, and though I can be generous and a spendthrift I hate wasting money.
After a little interlude she showed me to my bed; I slept very well and in the morning my first thought was "Now how fast can I get out of here?" Within ten minutes I was ready to go; she came down the hall in her bathrobe. "Would you like some coffee?"
God did I want coffee! "No, I gotta go." That would have opened up a can of time, an hour or more.
"Oh yeah," she said. "You have things to do, places to go."
So that was the first online date — it was weird getting smacked in the face but it did give me a story, a hook, to get you to read further.
After my match.com experience I decided to try OkCupid. I found a woman with a pleasant face who lived nearby — she was about my age which wasn't what I was looking for but I thought what the fuck, maybe I don't really know what I want. My age? Sounded scary but why not give it a try? Although I didn't have a picture posted, or much of a profile except the basics I emailed her and we did that for awhile. She asked for a photo and after I put it up there she said I was very nice-looking and gave me her phone number. We talked a few times, a couple long conversations and it was established that we were both very open and honest individuals. We arranged to meet but because she was known professionally in the area, and because her friends and clients thought she was still married, she wanted to be very discrete. I thought about that for awhile then proposed picking her up on a side street in town and whisking her up the hill to a vacant lot that I coveted and actually visited often.
At the end of our last conversation I asked, "Are you as cute in person as you are on line?"
"No," she said. "I have wrinkles."
Hmm, okay, well, what the heck? People have wrinkles, probably not a big deal.
I loaded a couple folding chairs in my truck, some water and glasses, and a blanket. (Well, a guy can dream!) I picked her up on a side street and as she exited her car I thought wow, she was really wrinkled: deep red furrows covering her face, I'd never seen a face like that before. She got in my truck, we drove up the hill, and parked near the vacant lot; there was already a homeless guy or traveler there sucking on a bottle of beer or booze.
"Oh hey, I was hoping to have a little private meet-up with my friend here," I told him.
"Oh well, I can leave," he said.
"Great," she said.
"Yeah, really, good," I said.
He trundled down the hill with his backpack and we sat on the chairs and talked. She had gotten out of the city, soon followed by her ex, or her husband, or both really as they alternately threatened each other with divorce or proposed reconciliation. He had told her he was planning to kill himself next year and she was distraught about the situation. He had begun to grow weed because there was nothing else to do but he hated the life: the five lighter, dealing with the mites and mold and electric bills, then lugging his suitcase full of pot around San Francisco trying to sell it to the dispensaries.
She had alluded to being something of a slut, having recently hooked up with a Native American in Santa Rosa, but the liaison wasn't fulfilling and she was looking for more. Toward the end of our meeting I asked her to sit on my lap but she refused. I went ahead and manhandled her onto me anyway but she soon squirmed away; we wrapped up our visit and I drove her back to her car.
I fall for the on line photo every time, and when I meet the person and she doesn't match the photo I get into a state of mini-denial and don't realize it for awhile. After this date I thought wait a minute! She didn't look like the picture. It’s like that every time and I was tired of it; I took my photos down and decided to get out of the game. It’s not that I have anything against a few wrinkles but in our phone conversations we had professed to being so Open and Honest! I looked again at her photo — it was blurry!
She saw I was off OkCupid and called me. "I hate to think I was the reason you got off the personals,"
"You didn't match your photo."
"Well it was taken way back in April," she said, apropos to nothing.
"The thing is," I said, "that I was getting attracted and interested in this image and voice, then when I meet you and see that you don't look the same it changes things, I lose desire."
"Well, I'm sorry you don't find me attractive," she said. "Besides, I'm going to keep exploring it with the Santa Rosa guy. I guess because I saw him with another woman the other day it made me want to have an extra on the side also, as we have an open relationship, if you can call it that." A few weeks later I checked and she still had the blurry picture up — I had never seen a woman so wrinkled.
Then it was on to GreenSingles.com; I had already written three or four profiles and then wrote a couple more in the last month when I contacted so many women between forty and fifty that I became Most Active for my age group (mid-fifties) for men on this site on the West Coast. Huzzah! Or Red Flag? Pretty much all the women in that age group were not interested in me; they mostly lived over 200 miles away or weren't jibing with my unconventional persona.
One woman, 48, did respond; she seemed very nice, her photo seemed nice enough, and we went straight to email, then talking on the phone. She was visiting her daughter in the Sierras and agreed to detour out of her way to meet me on her way home to a mountain near Redding; I offered to help with gas. She kept postponing her return North and I kept eating the big delicious and pricey fancy cupcakes I was buying to share with her. I told her a few times it was best to arrive during daylight but when she finally called me it was 10pm! When I found her in her van, crammed in like a semi-homeless person I noticed right away that she wasn't attractive, like her photos, but in the heat of the meet it didn't really register.
"Hi. Lets walk around town a little," I said, trying to buy a little time, all the coffee shops long since closed. After a block or two she was getting chilled so I thought what the fuck and took her home; she followed me up the hill in her nearly breaking down van. When we got to my house I made some tea and we sat there in my living room drinking it; we talked a little and I thought, "There is no chemistry here; this woman is dull and uninteresting."
"Well, it's getting late," I said. "I'll set you up in the guest house."
As I lead her next door and turned on the light she probably fell in love as she entered my rather lavish party barn. I set her up in the guest bed and showed her around — she was delighted by the over-sized tub.
"Mmm, I'm going to take a bath in the morning!" she said.
"Yeah," I said. "Feel free to sleep in, I know you've not been getting enough sleep on the road; don't drink all the wine!" There were two or three cases still unpacked from the last bi-annual trip to Trader Joe’s.
"Do you have one open?" she asked.
"No, do you want me to open one?"
"No, I would just have a little." she said.
I left her there and went back next door to sleep; in the morning I woke up and thought, "What am I doing? I have this woman in my house and there's no chemistry! (A man's definition of chemistry: Is she hot enough that I wouldn't mind my friends seeing us together on the street? A woman's definition might be different.) Am I this desperate and lonely?"
I called some of my friends and wailed and whined my lament, "What am I doing?!"
At ten I went next door and found her still in bed; I sat on the edge and asked her how she slept. "Mmm, I'm looking forward to that hike you talked about," she said.
"Well, its cold and foggy now, that would be later," I said. She looked down at the pretty hardwood floor and said, "I could do some stretching there, some yoga!"
"Well, actually I have to go work on a project so I've gotta get you on the road."
"Oh, okay, I'll get my things together." I went back next door while she trundled her stuff through the gate and into her cluttered van. After a few trips she was loaded up and came over.
"Yeah, this is kind of strange meeting like this," she said.
"Yeah, it is," I said.
"Well, about that gas money?"
"Sure," I said, and gave her $40.
"Oh thanks," she said.
I gave her a hug and then she followed me down the dirt road and into town where I kinda stepped on it to ditch her, and drove on into the next town over. I felt so happy to be free! And then I thought wait a minute, she didn't look at all like her online photo! I fell for it again!
I called my estranged Scrabble buddy Hugo and tried to reconcile; I had impetuously dissed him at my door after he had talked to our dentist about my hesitation and fear of coming in for a root canal. After this last experience of chasing tail or love or whatever it was all I wanted was a relaxing and competitive game with old Hugh.