Last night I laughed all night long. Should someone dial 911? Have I flipped? Nope, not yet, anyway...I had dinner with Kathleen, a relatively new friend I met at a writer's conference exactly a year after Jimmy died. She, too is writing a memoir.
We get together every so often (what exactly does that mean?) All right, a few times a year. Anyway, not to give away her age she was single for many years and now she's married for a few.
Much of her memoir is about her dating years. Now that I've entered that arena our conversation naturally moved in that direction - before we took our coats off.
"So?" Kathleen said. Then she sat and waited.
These days many don't bother with "Hello" - They launch right into "So?"
Obviously, the translation of "So?" is: "How's the dating going for you? Met anyone special? If not, lemme hear the crazy stories."
We both had lots to say about specific men we met on dating sites. But, without any alcohol consummed (impressed?) we pinpointed the inherent flaw of internet dating.
The Kathleen and Carol A-Ha Moment
Simply put...it's unnatural. No slow unravelling of ourselves to another. Our past, present and hopes for the future are either generically checked for all to see or there's a tiny space to write "favorite foods" - God forbid we have no room to write Italian - someone might say,
"She doesn't like Baked Ziti? What's wrong with her? Next..."
Internet dating misses the sensual air of mystery when we eye someone attractive at a party across a crowded room or notice a good looking guard as we empty our pockets for him when we visit our Mom in prison.
We read a man's profile. We see that he has x number of children, he's divorced, or never married, widowed...etc...Everyone is "Very Active" and since most people are blah it's amazing that all are consumed with so many hobbies.
He ski's - that old man? (Liar!) We discover he's either grateful for his Upper West Side condo or his kids. True or not the wise man chooses "kids"
We get a overflowing capsule of the man - not to mention photos of him dancing at his daughter's wedding to show himself off in a tux AND pose as Daddy to Daddy's little girl...smart move, Mister.
The next shot is him on a boat (we're supposed to assume is his) holding high the stupid goldfish he caught.
So, we know all this information about someone and now we meet him or talk on the phone. Kathleen and I had very different takes on how to converse normally to this sorta kinda unfamiliar potential "friend."
"So often I met someone for the first time and I had all this information about him in my head, but I had to pretend I didn't know he was a Virgo." Kathleen said.
"Oh, I said, "I panic thinking I should know all this or he'll think I didn't care enough to read his profile carefully. Sometimes I print it out and refer to it..." "Oh yes, John," I say, "I remember you wrote you love peaches."
"How does that work in person?" Kathleen laughs. "Do you bring notes?"
So, we laughed a lot. But, as I mentioned, Kathleen and I are fairly new friends. Gradually, we've gotten to know each other revealing here and there. And, that's why our friendship will stick. It's a natural getting to know you process.
Good thing we didn't meet on line.