Published by Parcbench on March 18, 2010:
As I discussed in Part One, while it’s easy to blame the internet for the plethora of dishonest players, the truth is, it is simply another vehicle through which to play the serial dating game. In the 21st Century, technology has provided an efficient method for both the upstanding and not-so-upstanding among us to either genuinely seek out a meaningful relationship, or secure the next superficial fling in a relentless hunt for a sexier, prettier, hotter version of the previous week’s hook-up.
Case in point: last summer. To make a long story short, a gentleman (ahem) unexpectedly contacted me via email, after coming across my website in cyberspace. For the next two weeks, we engaged in regular communication in the form of email and telephone conversations. Seemingly holding much in common, including a desire to save the United States from ruination, it seemed a logical conclusion that we meet in person to determine if there was any potential for a real relationship.
Granted, geographical distance between the man and the woman does present a unique challenge, as does older age. Unlike the America of the past where families tended to live together in the same geographical area, and the daters in question tended to be much younger (most folks in their 30s and above having already been joined in the bonds of marriage), today the “safety net” of having a man pick up a woman at her parent’s home is almost non-existent. In this example, my suitor would have to drive about six hours just to meet me. An inconvenience? Possibly, but also a fact of life in the contemporary dating scene.
For obvious reasons, including my own personal safety, I’d set the expectations well in advance: the man who desired to make my acquaintance in order to determine if we had a corresponding physical “spark” to accompany the intellectual one, would have to stay at a nearby hotel. Over the phone, he appeared quite understanding about the arrangement. I’d also informed a few close friends and family of his name, hometown and location of our get-together, simply as a precaution. And since the suitor in question was a self-described “old-fashioned kind of guy from Texas,” it never occurred to me he’d take issue with buying me a $20 entrée at a mom-and-pop establishment by the beach.
Admittedly, along the way I’d ignored some serious warning signs such as his distasteful tendency to divulge intimate details of previous relationships, his confession that the only photo he’d sent was over 12 years-old and the fact that (on his way over in the car!) he phoned to alert me that the birth date on his Facebook profile was indeed, false. In actuality, he was much older than the posted birth year would suggest. And in spite of my inquiries, he begged me to keep an open mind and wait for the answer until I met him in person. I chalked it up to nervousness and decided to give the guy the benefit of the doubt; after all, he was taking some time and expense to meet me. I could cut him some slack.
Note to self: never do that again!
When at last we met face-to-face, I was a bit disappointed inasmuch as he did not remotely resemble his photo. However, being an open-minded person, I determined to spend the next few hours listening and talking, understanding that the heart and soul within supercedes the exterior package. And yes, while I do believe in “chemistry,” I don’t simply base it upon the first two minutes of a physical interaction involving a friendly hug and a warm greeting. Sure, in many instances, it does develop within a matter of seconds; however, in my experience, this isn’t always the case.
This man and I went on to have dinner, although his reluctance to do so should’ve provided another clue. Unknown to me, “Zack” had already determined back at the Comfort Inn parking lot that the elusive “spark” he was seeking was nowhere to be found in Deerfield Beach—at least not with me. And as I mentioned, the feeling was mutual, although I was willing to give the guy a chance. As we sat at the dining table, he mentioned how “full” he was from lunch, having been treated to the Cheesecake Factory earlier in the day by a client. Undaunted and hungry (it was dinnertime after all), I ordered a chicken entrée, which came with a side of unwanted pasta, a dish I willingly gave him once the waiter arrived with the home-cooked food.
After he paid for our meal (the water-with-lemon was free as far as I know), we proceeded to walk along the beach, talk and even dance for the next several hours. If Zack wasn’t feeling the “spark” he must’ve been desperately trying to create one because at various points throughout the evening, he’d put his arm around me and even rub my bare feet and place his head on my thigh as we sat by the sand. Alas, these efforts were in vain as he later announced in no uncertain terms back at the hotel parking lot that he just wasn’t that into me.
Fair enough, especially considering the feeling was mutual; however, for him the disappointment ran so deep he didn’t even want to meet for breakfast the next morning. And although I am no psychic, I picked up on a subtle vibe that my crestfallen date truly resented having to sacrifice any gas, time and money for a girl he’d only ever regard as a friend. For him, no initial spark = Dutch treat; it also meant he’d be hitting the highway first thing in the morning, rather than spend any quality time with a new platonic relationship. Too bad he hadn’t enumerated his ground rules from the start to this “old fashioned kind of girl.” When I inquired about attending a free concert as buddies the next evening he protested, “But what if I see a girl there I am interested in? I won’t be able to talk to her because I’ll be with you!”
Needless to say, that was my cue to leave in spite of his protests to “talk it out” some more. This unfortunate interaction led to a few emails back and forth, including this little gem, so eloquently written without the benefit of proper grammar and punctuation (bold emphasis mine):
its more than just me paying for ur dinner…First of all, we were not in the “dating routine”…I had never even met u before so i would hardly say we were dating…Secondly, i expended money, time, gas and personal committment to drive there and meet you…Dont u think the least u could have done is take ME out to dinner, split the bill, or found me free acomodations??…I think it highly presumptuous of you to just assume things that had not even matured yet….Once again, u are over assuming…my coming to see you was not a “date” as in romance or after having established more between us…What it was was to see if there might be a spark where a romantic relationship could grow…Obviously it wasnt there…Apparently from ur reply letter, you considered this a date and as such the man should be responsible to pay for everything…Im sorry for that assumed delusion…Maybe u should grow up a little and understand that when someone (whom u dont know) has invited u to meet them for the first time, it is proper etiquette to split monetary charges between the two and to even extend accomodations to the weary traveler…If we had already established a romantic interest in each other prior to this weekend, then everything u said in this email would be correct, but that simply is not the case…Even u yourself said i knew what the ground rules were before i came; meaning no sex or intimacy…That being the case, how could u expect to have received more than what u got..Daria, when i go out with my female friends (of whom i have no romantic interest) we always split evenly all things we do….Why couldnt u have extended the same graciuosness to me until the two of us decided whether or not there was a romantic spark to further the relationship along into something more that just friends??…You are stil a very sweet girl and I wish u the best in all you do…
Silly me! I should have realized from the start that the fact I wasn’t planning to put out would automatically transform my evening from a “first date” with a guy I met online to an actual audition, whereby if my mere presence didn’t generate those elusive fireworks within his entire being, I would immediately lose all rights to the hotly contested $20 dinner.
Rather than complain about this modest output of cash, good ol’ Zack ought to thank his lucky stars that I am not a Boca Babe, or he’d have been out a heckuva lot more money. Oh how I sometimes wish I had time machine to transport me back to the Fifties! In spite of the benefits of modern technology, in a culture gone to extremes, a good man is still hard to find.