A sensible woman would give herself plenty of time to heal from her previous relationship before beginning to date again. But that whole sensible, measured, patient thing is just so hard for me.
Which is how I end up, kind of by accident, signing onto a dating website far too soon. I don’t mean to. I am under the impression that I can fill out the personality profile, find out some cool information about myself, and then wait a while before actually signing up.
Apparently that’s not how this website works.
The minute I hit “submit” on the personality quiz, the site starts generating matches for me. Within minutes, nine men can see my incomplete profile. This, of course, sends me into a complete panic. First of all, I have no intention of signing up just yet. I am not ready!
And second, I don’t have any fabulous profile pictures to post.
Can you tell I’m a Pisces?
Here I am, once again, swimming off in opposite directions. The wise Sally would have refrained from taking the personality quiz simply because it was connected to a dating site. The wise Sally wouldn’t have been anywhere near a dating site. The wise Sally would have spent the evening writing in her journal, soaking in a bubble bath and reflecting on her growth.
The impulsive Sally, however, has different plans.
After I stop panicking, I realize that there is an easy solution: I’ll just hide my profile until I’m ready to date again. I spend an hour poking around on the site before I come to the horrifying conclusion that I cannot hide here. And worse, I am starting to get messages.
Another hour and I know I need back up.
“Kira, I need your help.” The minute the Queen of All the Internet Dating answers the phone, I start talking.
“I accidentally signed up for eHarmony tonight and I don’t know how anything works. It is way different than Plenty of Fish!”
“Accidentally?” she laughs.
“It’s a long story. But you need to explain to me how to hide my profile.”
“On eHarmony? That, my friend, is a nearly impossible task.”
I groan. “Can you at least explain this place to me? What am I supposed to do after someone sends me questions? I answered them, but it looks like he’s sent more and I don’t know how to access them.”
“No, no, no,” she says. “After you answer his questions, you’re supposed to send him some questions. And, really, most people do that right away.”
“Oh no! I answered his questions an hour ago. I didn’t send him any back. Maybe I should send him a message and apologize.”
“No! You’d have to request personal communication and you don’t want to do that too soon.”
“This is so complicated! And what am I supposed to do with the ‘icebreakers’? I don’t understand what any of these things mean. Someone sent me one. And Kira, you should see him. I mean, he might be a lovely guy, but I have to be honest, I can’t imagine ever dating somebody so unkempt. You should see his hair. I can’t even describe how bad his hair is. It’s just the very worst comb-over you’ve ever seen.”
“Yeah,” Kira sighed, the weight of her dating years in her voice. “You know, the thing about a lot of men is that they just don’t get the concept of ‘League.’
“I’m not following…”
“You know. League. As in you and I are so not in the same league.”
“Ha! You should see that hair. It’s unbelievable.”
“Oh, honey. You don’t know what I’ve seen.”
“I know. I’m sorry. And I need your help! What am I supposed to with these guys? I don’t want to be mean. I sent ‘Bad Hair Man’ a smile. You know, polite. Not interested, thanks.”
“Oh no! This is not good! Sally, a smile is like a wink. It says ‘I like the look of you.’ Do not send any more smiles!”
“I am so bad at this!
“You’ll figure it out,” Kira laughs.
“And here’s one more question. Are these guys all using their real names? It’s so different than Plenty of Fish that way. It was always a laugh getting messages from The Chick Whisperer and Sexy Cougar Hunter. It’s not as much fun to get a message from Bob.”
“Yeah. It’s different. Most people use their own names.”
“Did you, when you started?”
“Uh. No.” Kira sounds a little uncomfortable.
“So what kind of a name did you use?” I am so bummed already that I can’t be Serendipity or Delicious.
Kira pauses before she answers me. “I don’t really know how to tell you this. When I first signed up, I was Sally.”
Now it’s my turn to pause. “What?”
“Yeah. Sorry. I didn’t want to use my own name and I kind of wanted to channel your good dating energy.”
I’m laughing by now. “So what you’re telling me is that I will be the second Sally from our little town to show up on this site in two years! What a coincidence!”
Kira is laughing too. “On the bright side, I’ll be able to screen all your dates.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, we’re two professional women in our forties. We both live out this way and have kids. We’re both petite brunettes. Chances are that you will get paired up with some of the same guys I dated when I was there.”
“I’m trying to see how that is good.”
“There were some good guys. Just not right for me. You know what they say about one man’s junk.”
“No! Stop!” We’re both in hysterics.
“Listen,” Kira says. “My advice is just to keep a really low profile. Stay off the website. Don’t respond to anyone just yet. Unless they’re really cute of course.”
An excerpt from An Alphabet of Men