From Singapore, With Love

He was contemplating the advantages of suicide as he sat in his cubicle when his thirty-third call of the day rang in.  “LoveActually Dating support services.  This is Brian, how can I be of assistance?”

“Hi, Brian,” replied the female voice, “my name is Judith and I’ve been using your dating app for the past 6 months and it has matched me up with an unparalleled string of complete losers.  You advertise an 85% satisfaction rate and, excuse the pun, but I’m not getting any satisfaction.”

“OK, Judith, thanks for calling.  I’m sure that I can help.  Have you tried powering down your phone any time in the past 6 months and then re-starting it.”

“Of course,” she replied impatiently, “It’s the first thing I tried.”

“Great, now do you mind if I mirror your phone and take a look at your dating profile and your settings?”

“OK, I guess.  Don’t you need my passwords or something?”

“No, actually your first name and phone number are plenty. Let’s see…. OK, you are 35, from the Bay Area, currently living in Fresno, California, and enjoy skiing, snowboarding, long nights, fireplace, wine, conversation, etc., etc.  Do I have the right Judith?”

“Yep. Sounds like me.”

“OK, let me get into your settings.”

“I usually don’t allow that on the first phone call,” she quipped.

“Ha!  Good one, Judith.  You didn’t mark “sense of humor” on your qualities.  Let’s add that now, OK?”

“Sure.”  Her trepidation at calling was disappearing in Brian’s apparent enthusiasm and confidence in the task at hand.

“OK, now under the question “How anxious are you to find a suitable partner?” you clicked on “beyond desperate.” What if we move that up to “very interested” and see if we can weed out some of those unsuitable matches.”

“But I am beyond desperate, Brian.  This is my fifth dating app in three years and I haven’t gotten… I haven’t had a really good date in a really long time if you know what I mean.”

“Yes, ma’am.  I think I get it.”

There was a long pause.  “Judith, are you still there?” he asked.

“Brian, you didn’t just call me ma’am did you?”

“I–um–it’s just the training we get, ma–ah, Judith.”

“Brian, can you activate the camera on my phone?”

“Well, yes, I can, but I’m not supposed to. It would take me a minute.”

“Just do it.  I’ll wait.”  She could hear him clicking frantically at his keyboard in the background. “Ok, I just saw the green light come on.  Do I look like someone you should be calling ma’am?”

She could hear him gasp as he saw the live picture of her flash on his screen.

“Ah–uh, no, Judith.  A-Absolutely not.  I-uh-if you could just button your shirt back up I think we can fix your profile and get you a much better result.”

“Just breath, Brian, it’s OK.”

“May I just say, that I don’t think your current profile picture does you justice.”

“No?  I don’t think they will let me post one topless, do you?”

“Well, no, but…”

“Yes, I can fix that later. What else can we do.”

His breathing had almost returned to normal as he scanned the rest of her settings. “What I’m thinking is that it pays to be more selective so that you can attract someone who really fits your interests.  What if we change your “absolute requirements for a match” from ‘under 60 years of age, breathing, and must be employed’ to something like ‘under 40, fit, and interested in both indoor and outdoor activities.’”

“Ha, I like that!  ‘Indoor and outdoor activities’–a bit suggestive, don’t you think?”

“I can take that out if you don’t approve.”

“No, let’s stick with it.  You have a kind of cute sense of humor also, Brian. Any other recommendations?”

“Why don’t you go with the changes we’ve already made, select a new profile picture, and see how things go for the next few weeks.”

“And if I’m not satisfied with the results?”

“I just texted you my direct line.  I’d be happy to be of assistance to you for any of your future needs.”

“Goodness, Brian, I do believe you are flirting with me.”

She could hear him sigh audibly over the airwaves.  “Believe me Judith, I certainly would be if I weren’t slowly dying in my cubicle here in Singapore.”

“Story of my life, Brian. Story of my life.”

Hating the Dating

For a while there it seems like we were getting a lot of stories about dating. It’s been like a wave and most of them seem to be horror stories of some kind. You are all reinforcing the notion that I have had for some time now that if ever I were to become single again, either through divorce or unfortunate accident, that I would happily embrace the single life.

First off, I’ve been out of the dating scene for over 40 years, and it now seems like the use of on-line services is a must. So that means I’d have to create a profile right? Something with just enough honesty, but emphasizing my good points and minimizing the bad ones. I tried unsuccessfully to get on a site and look at what the elements of a profile were, but I’m guessing it would go something like this.

Interests: To start with I’m interested in all things outdoors, such as rock-climbing, running marathons, backpacking, surfing and BASE jumping. I’m interested in all of these things and think anyone who can do them would be a real blast to hang out with. I just can’t physically do any of these things any more. So my actual interests run toward napping, reading, movies, concerts, music of all kinds, napping, gardening, small backyard projects, napping, beer, eating out and travel. Did I mention napping?

Personal qualities: I am patient, except for when I am not. I have a good sense of humor—or at least I think I am funny. I am suspicious of spontaneity, generally expecting some kind of disastrous outcome. I love being around free-spirited people, I am just not one of you. I am filled both with a sense of adventure and a sense of impending doom. I am often confused.

See, I can feel the left-swiping starting already.

I’ve mentioned that I don’t show or share emotions easily because, as vulnerable as I can be in my writing, I’m afraid of them in real life. I have this unfortunate habit of developing a crush on nearly any attractive woman who is nice to me. It’s not anything I act on (in most cases) but the fact that those unruly emotions can burst so easily from me scares me, and to begin dating full of hope and expectation just to be crushed by rejection eventually leads me to feel that being alone would not be so bad.

And not getting rejected could possibly be worse! All of the uncertainty, complexity and commitment? I’ve been trying to make that work, more or less successfully, for all these years, but would I really want to start it all over?

A plan is already beginning to form in my mind just in case. In one scenario, I see myself getting rid of the house, downsizing to a small apartment in an area full of bars and restaurants, getting a much larger television than I could possibly need, and maybe a cat–really independent cat who hangs out in the apartment just so I won’t feel like I’m always talking to myself.

In scenario 2, one of those attractive women who is nice to me casually mentions that she is looking for a roommate, preferably male, and I end up with a companionable person, without commitment or expectation, who is pleasant to look at and nice to talk to. Sort of a replacement for the cat in scenario one.

My very best wishes to all of you who are out there doing the dating thing. I admire you and hope that you will soon stumble across a really nice, hopefully sane person who shares your interests and personal qualities, or at least is willing to tolerate most of them.