Dating Episode 0.1 [Summer 2007]:
Window Shopping from a Fishbowl

Lil and I were sitting in her SUV outside a senior’s home after grieving group. “OH MY GOD!!! I can’t believe he said that.” We giddily scrolled through replies on her phone. She had posted an ad on an online dating service a week or so before. She’d had a few winks, and some brief conversation, and was now exchanging innuendo-laden phone calls and text messages with a young divorce in a somewhat-distant suburb. I was pretty sure texting was too sophisticated for my cheapass phone.

“I’m sure Dan is thinking, ‘who is this woman?’” Lil said of her late husband. An introvert, she’d been married many years, contented, devoted, a good Mom.

There was no picture in her ad, and she was fierce about keeping her intentions from her teenagers. It’s the neighborhood pool, she said. There is so much gossip – I just know they would make mincemeat of me. I hear about everyone else, so I know…

But we were totally high on it. It seemed a little scandalous: me, feeling still married, and with a 3-year-old, with an estate to handle -- I could flirt? Then again, I’d just selected a fragrance. Could I really do it? Was I ready?

“Why can’t you go online and browse? It’s free and it really gets you revved up. You can at least see what is out there. That’s how I got started.”

It seemed possible. “Well, I do like shopping online… I suppose it can’t be that bad.”

I started on Plenty of Fish. My, there were a lot of men out there. Several of them might have been incarcerated… they’d say they were "on assignment" and would return to the area in 18 months. But you could search the database using all kinds of screens… marriage status, age. Many were clearly older than they said. Probably one-third had photos they’d taken with their phone held out at arm’s length. Or in the bathroom mirror. Shirtless. They were not hot. The literacy level on POF was low.

“It’s like window shopping at Wal-Mart," I told Lil. “But even Wal-Mart has some good things if you look hard enough.”

I decided to post my own ad. Who was I? More importantly, who was I not? I didn’t want to have to screen out too many guys who’d hate me. There were thousands of men there.

A direct approach would suit my brand: “Wiseass brainiac widow, 41, with one kid, seeks coffee and conversation. About me: No one thinks I'm boring and I am not fat. My kid insists I'm silly, although most people don't get my jokes. Please tell me that you read real books and aren't into smoking or drugs... I'm not overly concerned about politics and I love to dance.”

My pseudonym would be "Lynnette" (The result of my taking a “Which ‘desperate housewife’ are you?” quiz).

I had dipped one toe in. How deep could it get??

* Read the next installment in this series! *

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