"Are you desperate yet?"

That was his opening line. And I still went home with him on our first date.

Published August 13, 2003 7:40PM (EDT)

It's so hard to get good help these days

I had just broken up with the boyfriend who I had thought would be "the one" in a spectacular train wreck of a breakup. It involved screaming phone calls with slamming the receiver down, his secretary finally refusing to put my nasty calls through to him, and me finally mailing all of his possessions and gifts back to him cut up into tiny pieces. That act alone took long tedious hours, since one of the gifts was a 900-page novel.

Then I decided I was ready to date again. This was the mid-'80s, before the Internet, so I answered an ad in the local paper. The guy sounded normal over the phone and we agreed to meet for a drink.

He arrived looking like a homeless man: unshaven, wearing flip-flops and sweatpants (in a formal bar). His explanation? Since his last girlfriend had left no one was doing his laundry.

I stayed.

He ordered a beer, I ordered a drink, he had no money, so I paid.

I stayed.

He explained that he was looking for someone to look after him. He preferred black women like myself and his former girlfriends because they were more subservient (his words).

And I stayed.

He asked about my job, very important because he liked to have home-cooked meals waiting for him every night. Would I be able to get over to his place in time to cook for him? And stop by to do the laundry in the morning before work?

I still stayed.

I went to the washroom. When I returned he was chatting up another black lady, quizzing her on her job and laundry techniques. I wanted to leave and he came with me. Outside on the street, we stopped to watch a street performer. In the crowd across from me was my ex-boyfriend. I melted into the crowd away from the blind date and the ex. I went home. Fortunately I had never given this guy my phone number, so not hearing from him again was not a problem.

-- Gail Marshall

Famous first words

"Are you desperate yet?"

That's all the e-mail says. In the glow of my computer screen I flip him off. My knee-jerk response is to reply with a slightly softer version of "F U." Instead, after a quick check of his profile picture I write simply, "No. And I doubt you are either."

I agree to a date not because I find him particularly witty, not because he intrigues me with well-written correspondence or because we spend half the night talking on the phone. I don't. He doesn't. We don't. I go on the date because I am bored.

I dress carefully in my first-date "uniform" and self-park my car at the restaurant. He is taller than tall, and attractive, and when after dinner he suggests we get a bottle of wine and go back to his place, I say OK.

Nearly two years later, I still say OK. Sometimes I say a lot more. We are perfectly matched, and every day is a honeymoon.

You can find true love on the Internet. But may I suggest a better opening line?

-- Allison Hatfield

Color me shallow

I received a note about my profile on Cupid.com a few weeks ago; as is my habit, I sent one back to her. That message led to e-mails, instant messages and phone calls -- some lasting two hours.

I told her she had a great voice; she told me I was funny. She said she was 5 feet tall, with long blond hair and green eyes; I told her those were all pluses in my book. We had some things in common, so agreed to meet. She said she liked mini-golf, I enjoyed "real" golf, so we decided to meet at one of the mini courses.

That's where things started to go wrong. She was 5 feet tall but shaped like a bowling ball -- her online profile had said she was "average." She did have long blond hair, but a lot of it was on her face -- her profile had said she was "attractive" -- and she could've used a shave. I tried to keep the shocked look off my face and think I succeeded. But who knows.

We played our round of mini-golf and decided to go get a drink. On the way to the bar (we drove separately), I called a friend and asked him to call my cellphone to say I had to come back to the office right away. Unfortunately, I got his voice mail, and he didn't call until we were at the bar, eating.

"Sorry," I told her. "I've got to go back to work."

We finished eating, headed for our cars. I hoped she wasn't expecting a kiss, since I didn't think I could do it. I got out of the parking lot with a hug.

I've gotten one e-mail and a number of phone calls from her since then. I haven't answered any of them.

I have a new rule: No meeting without a picture first. And not just a head shot, either.

-- Chris in Iowa

By Salon Staff

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