HELL: "I had never met a completely spherical person before"
In February of 1995, I was e-mailing with a woman named "Michele." We developed quite an on-line relationship that translated well into phone calls. I was a software engineer in Michigan, she was from Ohio, in Kentucky for college, and we racked up huge phone bills over the course of several months. She said she was 27, 5'2" and about 120 pounds. I was 29, 6'1" and 175 pounds.
One day she suggested we meet in person. I was all for it. This was before the Web really took off; nobody had digital cameras or scanners, so never having seen a picture of her wasn't that surprising. She told me she was considered "very cute," and that was good enough for me.
She drove up on a Friday, with the intent to stay the weekend and return to Kentucky on Sunday. Both of us were sure it would be a porno fantasy weekend; we had been very sexual and flirtatious on the phone and in e-mail, and here was the opportunity to make it all real. I was very excited to finally meet her in person.
When she showed up I saw that she had totally lied about her appearance. She easily weighed 250 pounds, probably more, but I'll round it down. She was totally round in every dimension, and had no "feminine" shape at all. I had never met a completely spherical person before. Naturally all thoughts of a porno fantasy weekend were instantly out of the question. She, on the other hand, didn't seem to remember that I was expecting a cute former cheerleader and was surprised that I was surprised. She was very disappointed when the scheduled Sexual Olympics were cancelled.
The original plan was for her to just spend the weekend, but when she arrived I learned that she intended to stay a whole week. I didn't allow that, and after I spent a very uncomfortable night fending off her repeated advances, she left the following morning in tears.
-- Name withheld
HELL: Bad aim means you dont score
I met this guy online. We made a date and had drinks and dinner at a pretty pricey restaurant. He wasn't too bad until his cellphone rang and he picked up the call. This happened several times during the date. Still, I wanted to be open and give it a chance. (It's so rare that I even make a date with one of these guys.)
Later in the evening, he excused himself to go to the men's room. I needed to go also, so I followed, thinking he'd be back and figure it out. Naturally another woman was waiting before me to get into the ladies' room, and we struck up a conversation. Then the door to the ladies' room opened, and my date appeared and said, "Sorry, ladies, the men's room was occupied." No big deal. He headed back to our table, and she went into the bathroom.
When she came out, she said to me, "I did the best I could, but that guy peed all over the place, on the seat and floor. Its disgusting."
To which I retorted, "You want to hear something even more disgusting? That guy's my date."
We got a good laugh over it. I went back to the table, finished my drink, and said goodbye. Needless to say, I never saw him again.
-- Marianne W.
HELL: Word to the wise: "Ack!" doesnt cut it
I answered an ad for a guy who looked like Henry VIII. Turns out he was an English professor and into computers, HBO, same stuff as myself. Now, the polite thing to do when someone responds to your ad, if you are interested, is to say: "Thanks for writing." But instead he wrote, "I don't really know what I am doing here with this personals thing. I guess I can chat with you, though."
It's my own fault for even bothering, because over the course of our one-week correspondence, there were enough red flags, bells and whistles popping up to make me feel like an extra in Matthew Broderick's "The Music Man." I did it to myself.
I IM'd him one morning and we ended up online for five hours. I shared with him the things that I think are good things about me -- I'm a straight-A student in broadcasting, work for a university, and hope to get published one day. And at 34 years of age I am a "fox without Botox."
What I did not share with him, initially, was my family background, which festers in my heart like an infection. I try very much to live in the present. But apparently, part of the screening process for this guy was making sure I had it together. His last girlfriend had attacked him with scissors, so he didn't want to get involved with someone who had a lot of problems. According to him, my reticence meant I was hiding something.
So against my good judgment, I did it. I told him my mother had committed suicide.
"Ack!" was his response.
When I told him that was inappropriate, he said: "Well, what do you want me to say? 'Sorry' doesn't really cut it when someone tells you something like that." Then he claimed he "reacted to social norms differently than everyone else." He went on to reveal that he was too frightened to call me on the phone, and that since he hadn't dated in five years, it was just too daunting to meet me for coffee.
But, he said, he was interested in me nonetheless.
At that point the real man in my life, my pit bull, started scratching to go out. I wished the guy peace, got up, and took my dog for a walk. I never wrote to him again. Out there in the rain with the dog, I cut myself some slack for forsaking five hours of my life, not to some guy, but simply to loneliness.
-- Nona Howard
HEAVEN: She passed the test. Literally.
The first match that came up for me on Salon personals had an intriguing headline: "I just changed my ad to put me back where I belong: ON TOP!" (Apparently, the ad engine displays recently modified ads first).
I checked it out: cute picture, interesting profile, looking for a guy that sounded like me. I paid the $20 to reply, and sent her a quick note: "Hi, you seem neat, why don't you check out my online 'Are you suitable to date me' quiz?"
Well, she took the quiz (and had great answers!), and wrote me back immediately, saying simply, "Pick me pick me pick me!" We exchanged some more messages, moved to our personal e-mail accounts, and then I sent her a huge biographical letter. I also included some links to my Web site about stuff I'd done.
At 11 that night (four hours after my first note to her), I got an e-mail from her, subject: "I love you." The first paragraph said, "I just wanted to tell you that now, so that when we meet, and we realize we hate each other, it will not have been left unsaid."
I was smitten.
Two days later, we met and had a fantastic first date. The next day, on our second date, I asked her to be my girlfriend. She said she would, but only if I wrote her a note with a checkbox for yes and no, which I obliged.
She checked "yes," and now, 10 months later, we are the happiest couple we know. We just bought a condo in Oakland and will be married soon.
-- Name withheld