The match game

THURSDAY, OCT. 27 — A few blogs back I mentioned that friends concerned about my bachelor status – and no doubt baffled by stories from my last relationship — urged me to consider online dating. When I did, I found my ex-girlfriend’s picture ("Just another pretty face?").

Nevertheless, I found that I kept returning to and Yahoo personals, loneliness prevailing over my native resistance to the concept of online dating. In fact, one of the reasons I signed up this week with was to prove something to myself. There’s a history of contrariness in my family, a sense that we’re just a little better than others, that we do things differently.

There is value in such thinking. It encourages invididuality, self-reliance and an aversion to the herd mentality. But it can also ignore a fundamental truth. Namely, that we have far more in common with each other than in what separates us, and signing up was an antidote of sorts to that legacy of contrariness.

But there was also another reason.

I saw a picture of a woman who reminded me of someone I had a lovely encounter with more than a year ago. It took place in a Whole Foods store where the temperature seemed just a few degrees above freezing. It was July, and she wore tights and a sleeveless top.

I asked if she was cold; she said she was, but tried to block it out. We moved on, but crossed paths twice more, each time exchanging smiles. When I got to the checkout area, she was already checking out and as our eyes met, she let her hair down, shook it out and smiled.

Now, I may be slow, but I’m not stupid. "Damn," I thought, "I should get her number."

But instead of running out the door, I went through checkout, paid and went outside. She was gone, of course, and I’ve been kicking myself ever since.

Considering that I was still in a relationship at the time, I consoled myself that I’d done the honorable thing. But that lost opportunity has haunted me, especially coming out of a situation where I was the third or fourth priority.

So I sent an email to the woman on entitled "Do I know you from the dairy section?" and remarked what a coincidence it was that we were both English majors. But so far, no reply. Either she’s not interested or she chdecks her email infrequently.

In the meanwhile, with 450 hits in four days, I’ve had no shortage of interest. Apparently I am fresh meat.

As a correspondent from Atlanta put it, "most of the gentlemen sent to me were very much recycled." This woman’s first message in its entirety: "hi, you sound like a compassionate, grown up man. very interesting and in short supply. i would like to talk to you. e-mail me."

I’ve also been called "extremely handsome," "good-looking," "very interesting," "adorable" and "splendid." While that might be music to some, I don’t consider myself adorable, splendid or extremely anything. What I do notice is that only a few paid attention to my insistence on a partner who has been doing the work – freeing herself of old beliefs, the rubbish that keeps us from fulfilling our potential.

One who did get it lives not within the 50-mile radius from Atlanta I specified, but 300 miles away in Tennessee. Other emails came from geographically challenged correspondents in California, Florida, North Carolina and a remarkably unattractive woman in Guangzhou canton, China.

I’ve also been having relationship flashbacks. To a woman who admitted to being a Leo, I wrote: "I recently broke up with a Leo and the biggest problem we had was that the relationship was always about her. In reading your profile, there’s only one sentence about the man you’re looking for. The rest is about you."

The next morning, I sent her an apology, explaining that I’d written that after "a little too much truth serum" – nearly four glasses of wine. It appears she has forgiven me: she sent her phone number anyway.

I chided another woman for a photo that made her look stern and disagreeable. She responded that we were probably not a match: "I look too much like you. I could be your sister."

That got my attention. I wrote back that there were laws about things like that. She thought that was amusing and sent more pictures, some of them very flattering. I made another joke, asked for more particulars, and warned her I was a high-risk guy.

So far, no reply. Stay tuned.

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