HELL: Sick serendipity
On this dating occasion, I met up with a young and semi-strapping attorney. He disclosed to me that he worked as a litigator for the DMV -- in license confiscation. He asked me where my family was from, and I gave him a concise statement about how both of my grandparents are Holocaust survivors, and that they had immigrated from Poland after the war. The dude got this weird shimmer of recognition in his eye, along with a straight and very important look on his face. Then he said: "Really? That's so cool! What a coincidence! My grandfather was a Nazi soldier!"
-- Jessica Firger
HELL: Failure as a springboard to success
He sounded like a dud on the phone. His voice was deep but expressionless, his manner of speaking was rigid, and his topics of conversation were dull. He proclaimed himself to be a 9 (on a scale of 1 to 10), and he asked me how I ranked. I refused to play the game, not out of modesty but a need to reject such a measurement.
We made plans to meet up, in spite of the serious doubts I harbored. I was new to the world of online dating and had convinced myself I needed to give everyone a fair shot.
On the evening of our date, I arrived five minutes late at the appointed place -- a cafe he had picked -- to find it closed with no one in sight. It was the middle of winter and icy winds whipped furiously down the empty street. I waited. When he still had not arrived 15 minutes later, I began walking back toward the metro station.
Chin down and hunched over to keep warm, I did not notice the figure rushing past me until it came running back calling out my name. My date had arrived. He was certainly not a 9. Still, I reminded myself to keep an open mind.
He apologized for being late and suggested a restaurant a few blocks away. Once inside the restaurant, I faced yet another horror: He was wearing a pink shirt with wide blue stripes, ill-fitting jeans, and spanking white sneakers. Throughout dinner, I was ever the optimist, smiling and making conversation. Still, the hour seemed interminable. When the bill came, he looked it over and divided it in half. (Despite the extra glass of wine, two appetizers, and dessert that he had ordered.) I threw down my half.
On our way back to the metro station, we passed by a bar. He stopped and asked if I wanted to go in for a drink. I declined, but he persisted until I finally gave in. If anything, a strong drink would drown out the misery of the evening. We shouldered our way to the bar and ordered our drinks.
When the bartender gave us our bill, my date gave me a pathetic look and said he did not have enough cash on him. I refrained from suggesting he use plastic and paid for the drinks myself. While he wasn't looking, I gave him one long, disgusted look. The Very Cute Guy sitting next to my date caught my eye and, nodding toward him, raised an eyebrow in query. I shook my head, a grimace of disdain clearly writ on my face. He laughed.
When my date went to the restroom, the Very Cute Guy made his move. Needless to say, it didn't take much persuasion on his part to convince me to ditch the date altogether. It was the meanest thing I have ever done, but no regrets. The Very Cute Guy is now my Very Own Husband.
-- Margot Xavier, Boston
HELL: Desperately seeking forgiveness
Sometimes in life you have to face the ugly truth. Truth is, I'm fat. Really huge. This has not been good for my love life. Have you ever seen a personal ad where a Straight White Female seeks a Morbidly Obese Male? The only way I was going to get a date was to get thin. So, single, lonely man that I am, I bought every diet I saw on TV. I tried everything, the Zone, Deal a Meal; I even signed up for Jenny Craig. With my lack of willpower, I couldn't even get Jenny herself to take interest in me. All seemed lost. Then, after months of trying, I found the only diet plan that worked for me: online dating.
Not that I actually lost actual inches off the waistline. But in only a few minutes a day of Web surfing, I quickly achieved the body I always wanted. It's as easy as posting a picture from a magazine and typing a few key adjectives, like "ripped." Suddenly, I went from bowlful of jelly to hunk of lean muscle mass. My arms became guns. My abs discovered the other meaning of the term "six pack." I became the online date from hell.
Within days, my inbox was brimming with blonde lovelies responding to the new me. Of course, it wasn't my stunning good looks alone; my love of puppies, gourmet cooking and Mozart probably had something to do with it. So did my job as an investment banker. And despite the fact that I hate puppies, small portions, and all Mozart that's not "Rock Me Amadeus," and while the only banking I did involved an ATM and insufficient funds, I decided that somewhere in these messages was the girl for me.
And I was right. There she was, that flaxen-haired beauty I had dreamt of on those cold and lonely nights where the only way I could keep warm was by rubbing my hands together. For two weeks, we corresponded. I wrote winning diatribes filled with the wit and vigor of a Falstaff. She replied with the smiley-face of colon and parentheses. I asked all the right questions. She gave the right answers. I cared enough to say it with flowers. She gave me her phone number. We were on our way to the love shack. Unfortunately, that meant we would have to meet.
Sometimes in life you have to face the ugly truth. I faced mine in a coffee shop in Times Square, a droopy red carnation stuck into my lapel. There, over a skim latte, I met my dream girl. She was everything she said she was and more. I was more, too. Much, much more.
Well, at least I got to check out her ass as she was walking out the door.
PURGATORY: The fickle finger of fate
In the midst of a fairly epic love-life losing streak, I had considered a plunge into online personals for months; when I finally posted my ad, it only took a few days for Irene's impossible-to-resist profile put me over the edge. Her descriptions of what she was after were assertive without making her seem like a control freak, and written with genuine wit and intelligence. Her picture was attractive, sure, with a cherubic face and kind eyes that shined with a mischievous energy that couldn't be disguised by the slightly fuzzy pixilation. Admittedly, though, it was the burgundy hair framing that face, appealing to my slight redhead fetish, that made me start sending her e-mail.
We got along immediately in words, and quicker than I would've thought possible, we had exchanged phone numbers and arranged to meet at a local bar. Irene was a bit late, and I was nervous, sucking down the clove cigarettes that I was addicted to at the time, and kicking back Stoli & 7s. My sobriety was somehow still intact by the time she showed up, and I was able to converse normally.
Unfortunately, after a half-hour or so, it was pretty obvious it wasn't going to work out. I was looking for a simple connection, somebody with whom a future was an option but not necessarily a given. Meanwhile, she was flat-out looking for a soul mate and was convinced of her ability to tell a person's suitability within a date or two based on her belief in, and complete trust of, fate. I thought her stand on the issue was cute but almost comically naive. It was a topic we never got past, and so when the date was over, we shook hands and that was it.
Six months later, I was in the lobby of a local Internet company, waiting to be interviewed for a job I needed badly at the time. Who should arrive to shake my hand and lead me upstairs but a girl with red hair and a vaguely familiar round face. She recognized me just before I recognized her, and suddenly I realized that not only was she in fact that girl, but she was also the hiring manager.
Even though our date hadn't worked out, I must have made a decent impression, since I did get the job. We became friends after that, and I soon got to meet the guy she eventually decided would work as a soul mate. He was only a date or two after me, and their successful marriage (not to mention my job) has forced me to rethink the power of fate.
-- Matthew Cooke, Seattle