Perplexed and the city: I discover e-dating’s a dud

By Jenny Klion

I recently went on my first — and last — e-date. I know. I know. I’ve heard plenty of truelove success stories having originated on the Internet: “So-and-so met their boyfriend/husband online,” my mother, sisters, friends and advertisers for online dating services declare. But for my mind and money, I still find online dating to be little more than corporate manipulations — the exact same ones I long to escape; ergo the reason for my search for real-life human contact in the first place!

Don’t misunderstand. There was nothing wrong with this…this…man who I’ll call Ricky, save for the fact that he had the misfortune of meeting up with a person like me, yours truly. This…this…Ricky, this…this…this complete stranger boasted a Ph.D., (in what, I have no idea), spoke three languages, worked several months a year in Brazil (already my wheels were turning!), and according to his bio, spent the rest of his time working on a novel. Definitely good on paper. Absolutely worth a look-see. And unlike my several other online communiqués, which inevitably dissolved when I backed out of the dates at the last minute, I sincerely planned to meet this person. (As for the others, I never totally blew anybody off. I always sent a responsible heads up — something like: “Hey, sorry, but…no can do.”)

No, my good-on-paper guy seemed to leap off the screen when I learned that in his line of duty, he’d been shot at, chased after and more. “Now — here is someone I could get serious about!” I thought.

But when the day of the e-date day finally arrived, that familiar what-have-I-done? feeling began rearing its ugly head. I forced the sensation into submission, though, in favor of a more positive, useful attitude; I had to meet Ricky, once and for all. Furthermore, it was simply too late to back out now, and send a Dear John letter to the…total STRANGER!

Before we go on, may I first say that before my marriage, I had no dearth of dating opportunities and experience. I mean…what I’m trying to say here is: I’m really not a prude. Second, I’m an excellent matchmaker when it comes to other people, having set up several short-term relationships, as well as three — count ’em, three — marriages.

But online dating is a completely different genre, based on the ability to instantaneously judge and be judged — again, by total STRANGERS! And in keeping up with the high-paced rhythm of the Internet, quick perusing through the barrel of candidates is a certainty, whereby one just keeps digging and digging — like shopping for shoes at Loehmann’s! — sure there must be someone special in that mismatched pile of goods!

Moreover, it’s no longer enough to simply be well put together; one must now be photogenic to the point of looking hot — and normal — all in the space of a 1-inch pixilated square. And finally, is no one else embarrassed by the fact that candidates, in both multiple-choice and essay form, are encouraged to bare all on screen? Lay out one’s emotional projections unabashedly in black and white — for all proud, paying members to see?!

O.K., so maybe I am a Scrooge. Maybe Ricky didn’t have a chance in hell of me liking him, once I saw him trotting down the café sidewalk to meet me. Twenty-five minutes into our iced teas, I wasn’t sure how much longer I could prolong the meeting, but a 35-minute walk along the Hudson River brought us right back to the 14th St./Eighth Ave. subway, where I told the sweet man I would be heading off in another direction.

What was the matter with Ricky? Nothing, save for the fact that the way one moves, talks, smells, feels, breathes and more, cannot be categorized onto a computerized checklist. At least not for me. Damn.