Part Four–Use Your Words
I quickly learned that communicating on online sites is a different language all its own. On match.com, I initially received a number of messages in which the man simply stated his name, which may or may not have been legit:
“Hi, I’m Dave.”
That was it. I think of dating like fishing. You cast a line but you need to bait the hook first. Fish don’t bite otherwise.
Sometimes the man didn’t even mention his name but included emoticons instead:
“Hi there. 🙂 🙂 ”
Where to go with this? “¯\_(ツ)_/¯”
And once there was just a single word:
I was tempted to reply: “Sarsaparilla” because the word is cool to say and spell, not to mention that it’s a tasty beverage.
The messages eventually began to expand in length, albeit not so much in depth. The following are excerpts from actual messages without any changes to grammar and punctuation:
Sometimes the messages announced an interest–“I like to roller skate.” And I still have my skate key.
Sometimes they involved an invitation–“I have to say you pretty as a new born colt.” This one then asked me to accompany him on an RV road trip up the coast of California. He was leaving in five days. I was not.
Sometimes the comments were based purely on the physical–“You look so tall.” I am not.
Sometimes I didn’t have a clue what the message meant–“You are interstellar in movies.” I have never been in movies.
Sometimes they were funny–“We still getting married on Sunday?” Ha, ha. But no.
And sometimes they got pissed–“Well, not even a hi?”
I eventually had to block and report the last man, Mr. Needs Anger Management, whose messages escalated in ire and accusation because I didn’t respond to him. Ever. Not once. My veteran online dating friends had told me early on to only respond to those in whom I was interested. Do not reply to anyone else, they said.
So, in spite of my Emily Post’s Etiquette-governed upbringing, I followed my friends’ advice and never responded to the following:
1. Men who wore sunglasses in every picture. I was raised by a mother who believed that you could see crazy from a mile away by looking at a person’s eyes. Whether this is true or not, I don’t know, but why take chances?
2. Men who were shirtless in their profile photos. Unless the guy was Channing Tatum. Most restaurants require shirts, so there’s that. A related photo would be a photo of a shirtless man who is sharpening an axe. I saw at least three different axe-sharpening photos. Just in case we’re not clear on this: an axe is an object from horror movies and of dating nightmares.
3. Men who posted selfies of themselves reflected in their bathroom mirrors. Please don’t. If you must use a selfie, just take a patented in-your-car-with-the-seatbelt-across-your-chest selfie or a standing-at-the-free-weights-rack-at-the-gym-with-your-cell-phone-blocking-your-face selfie or a look-at-me-I’m-in-my-cube-at-work selfie. Even those three selfies are preferable to a bathroom selfie. No one, but no one, wants to see your toilet.
4. Men who cropped or scribbled out their ex-wives or ex-girlfriends in their photos. Just take a selfie. But not in your bathroom and always with a shirt on and never ever while sharpening an axe.
5. Men who stated that they were social drinkers but every photo showed them partying with a drink in hand, their shirts wet with sweat and spilled cocktails. Dude, I know that M.O. cold and I’m not going there.
6. Men who called women “girls” and whose politics were diametrically opposed to mine. Anyone who goes by azalphamale is just not going to be a good fit for this azfeministwoman.
7. Men who were too old, like 83 years too old, or who were far too young. One was just 19 years old. My youngest son was older than him. Ick. I was looking for a man who had the same life frame of reference that I did. Like, you know, they knew that Nixon could refer to either a disgraced president or a cowpunk musician and not just a watch company favored by surfers and skateboarders.
8. Men who went on and on and on, like this one fellow: “I am really hoping that you will give me a chance to get to know you and you me. I know that this dating on life can be challenging but it only takes finding the right person to make this all worthwhile. I am certain it is tougher on woman than the men as I am certain at times your must feel like prey … ” The message looked to be at least two pages long, single spaced. I just never could read past the prey part.
9. Men who itemized their material possessions. One wrote me twice with the same list of the homes he claimed he had, the expensive cars in his garage, and his exotic vacation schedule on which I would accompany him. I felt a little sick to my stomach as I read what essentially was an offer from a sugar daddy. The second time he messaged me, I wanted to message him with the following: “Hey buddy, 1953 called and it wants its come-on back.”
10. Men who were pictured with their unsmiling and clearly miserable children. If the kids didn’t want to be around their dad, I didn’t want to be around their dad either.
I waded through messages for several weeks as I debated again and again if I really wanted to take the next step and get to the point of all these machinations: an actual date.
Next time: Part Five–And So It Begins