Hell: Halfway to nowhere
It was my first Internet date. I had seen a picture of him, a black-and-white profile shot in which his tattoos barely peeked over the top of his wife beater.
There's one thing I know now about profiles that never occurred to me before I met him: Don't assume that because someone has one clearly visible eyebrow there is a matching one on the other side. Sometimes there isn't, and it is very hard to take your eyes off the spot where the eyebrow should be when you were really expecting it to be there.
In the week preceding our date we spoke on the phone often. More often than not these conversations tended to revolve around sex. We were both having a lot of it, but the sex I had been having was good, and the sex he had been having, lamentably, was not. I, of course, fully intended to help him with his problem.
When he showed up at my place, I opened the door and pretended not to be startled by his alarming lack of eyebrow. He smiled, and I pretended not to stare at his broken teeth. When he looked to the left and closed his mouth he was still hot, so I made a mental note to sit to his right.
We went out for drinks, and he ordered himself two beers for every one he ordered for me, and we talked about sex some more. Over the phone he had informed me that certain parts of his anatomy were "perfect." Over drinks, he proceeded to tell me about the vast numbers of girls in Los Angeles who hated him. He also informed me -- and showed me through his pants right there in the bar -- that he was at "half-mast" just thinking about what he was going to do to me when we got back to my place.
Half was a theme that was figuring too prominently into our date, and I was more than halfway aware of it. He was at half-mast. He had half the amount of eyebrows he was supposed to have. I drank half the amount of beer he did. Half the girls in Los Angeles hated him.
But still, after all that build-up I was more than halfway wanting him, and upon returning from the bar we ripped our clothes off and landed on the sofa. Ten minutes later it was over. He said he was sorry. The apology -- like what went before it -- was half-assed.
-- Ruby Covarrubias, Ventura, Calif.
Heaven: The sound and the teary
Adam and I met during the early days of the Internet. It's important for us to separate ourselves from typical Internet dating. We did not meet at a personals site, an S/M message board or during a virtual sex extravaganza.
No, this was the early '90s (read: no .gifs, .jpegs or pop-up ads selling hidden cameras) and I didn't even own a computer. I had a close friend, though, who insisted I go online on her computer, and so I did.
Within my first hour online, I was in a music chat room asking if anyone liked the band Pavement. Across the screen, maybe thousands of miles away (turned out he was much closer), he answered me. Yes, he did like Pavement! The me of today would hardly be wowed into lust by such an unimpressive coincidence, but the me of then, with my technologically inept way of life (there was still excitement over such inventions as the "CD player" and "cell phone"), was astonished by the whole process, and his similar taste in music merely clinched my amazement. Someone, a boy, was talking to me and not trying to get me drunk! It was unheard of. College student mating rituals were either boring or dangerous; but here was a member of the opposite sex befriending me and he had no idea if I was 108 or had a cleft palette.
Because digital photos were still foreign, Adam and I didn't have the benefit of immediately glancing at a picture of each other. We became friends solely with words. I would print out e-mails, poring over them for hours, pondering ellipses and sentence structure with more attention than a psychiatrist trying to profile the Zodiac Killer. I imagined what he looked like going on very limited descriptions, such as "not fat" and "my hair is shortish."
I finally flew to meet him. We knew what the other one was wearing and that's about it. Having only one chance to make a first impression, I did take the opportunity to create a bit of fiction. I waited for him in the airport reading Faulkner. This is notable because I have an incredibly hard time reading him. But I thought it would be impressive. So there I was in the airport reading "The Sound and the Fury" as casually as if it were People Magazine.
Beyond the small, superficial untruths, it turned out we had been honest. I had told him from the beginning that I was a demanding person, and he had truthfully admitted he was both loyal and a bad cook. But it took me a year to admit I never got past Page 50.
The rest, of course, is history. He asked to kiss me once we got into the car and I refused. Somewhere down the line I eventually let him, and we are living happily ever after (our 2-year-old daughter's recent potty-training accidents notwithstanding.)
-- Bianca Galladora, San Francisco
Hell: Menage à barf
It was one of my first forays into online dating. I was in my early 20s and while I hate to call myself naive, I can't think of a better description. I took people at their word and I didn't think someone would lie about their descriptions. I put up an accurate picture and double-checked my description before sending out my ad.
A few hours later, I got my first response. We seemed to have everything in common: He liked all my favorite movies, we ate the same things, and even liked the same music.
After about a week, we planned to meet for coffee at a little shop in the center of town and then go out to dinner. Unfortunately, at the last minute, he sent me an e-mail saying there was a problem. Could I meet him at his house and we'd head out from there?
So I schlepped to the condos on the edge of town and knocked on the door. Instead of a buff 30-year-old, a paunchy elderly man opened the door. If I'd been a little quicker on the uptake, I would have put it together then. I wasn't. I asked for Dave and the old man identified himself as Dave and invited me in.
Catholic school, unfortunately, taught me to be polite. So rather than call him a liar to his face, I walked inside and tried to be polite until I could find a way to excuse myself. There was another surprise. At the kitchen table was his wife -- squeezed into a frayed pink sweatsuit with a big red Lucy wig plopped onto her head. Not sure what to say, I shook her hand as I was introduced. I was so stunned I almost missed it when Dave said that he and his wife were into threesomes and wanted to know if I would be interested.
I did the first thing I could think of. I patted my jacket pocket, muttered something about getting a page from work, and bolted like a bat out of hell. It was only when I got home and went over my e-mail that I found out how well I had been played; every time I said I liked something he would feed the information back to me a few messages later. Of course, we had everything in common. I'm older now and still doing the online dating thing, but I'm not quite as trusting this time around.
-- JP, Boston
Heaven: Cents and sensibility
If I had a nickel for every time I had a girl tell me, "Let's just be friends," I'd have about $3.75. Not a lot of money, true. But when you start dividing by 5 cents it gets kind of discouraging. So I can't say I was overly optimistic when I logged on for my two-week free trial period at a Jewish online dating service.
Over the course of a week, I must have sent at least a dozen e-mails, each one expressing a different persona. If a girl was looking for confidence, I'd be downright cocky. If it was sensitivity she was after, I'd show her more feelings than she could shake a stick at. If humor turned her on, I'd be a regular Red Buttons. I tried everything: the naive "I've never done anything like this before" approach; the ironic "This is such a strange way to meet" approach. The bold "Out of all the girls online, you are the only one that seems interesting enough for me to bother with" approach. None of them worked. I didn't get a single response. It was more than my fragile ego could bear.
Then, exactly one week after I joined, I got an e-mail. Somehow, a girl found my profile interesting and wrote back. We gradually moved up the communication food chain. First came e-mails through the service. Then I gave her my regular e-mail address. Then we started instant messaging. After that, we made the giant leap to the telephone. Then we met. Started dating. One month after that first e-mail, we were in love. And now we're looking online again -- for a place to have our wedding.
-- Rick Kronberg, New Jersey