In search of romance at Match.com: a short story
When my wife of 53 years died on me a few years ago, I was so devastated that I parked myself inside my first son’s in-law suite in Boston and became a recluse.
A few months later I sensed that he was tiring of me, so I shipped myself out to my second son’s guest quarters in San Francisco and started taking baby steps towards returning to a normal life. To speed up the recovery, my sons signed me up at Match.com (an Internet dating site), hoping that I will find a lady friend and stop being an annoyance to all of them.
I returned to my home base in Orlando and soon immersed myself in this exciting endeavor of finding a new companion, possibly even a new wife, using the latest dating “tool” – the Internet. I am told that if one was happily married for a long time, one longs for a return to that status quo – it is a characteristic of the human psyche. I don’t subscribe much to such psycho-blahblah, but I throw it out there anyway – most arm-chair psychologists will consider it a satisfactory explanation of my actions.
The first thing to do in my pursuit of a new life through Match.com was to fill out a “profile” – a series of point-by-point answers to questions about my personality and life status. Upon scrutiny of the questions, I immediately realized that I had two serious problems: religion and age. Both were detrimental in the Internet dating environment and resulted in limiting the available flow of female candidates to nearly a trickle.
Let me start out by first discussing the religious issue. In my profile and under the heading of “Religion,” I wrote “Non-believer”. I tried to be truthful, but when you live in Florida, a lack of belief in the Almighty is an anathema – the majority of older women are maniacally god-fearing. Let me provide you with some examples.
One woman, who had not noticed my “non-believer” entry, asked me on the phone whether I loved . . . Jesus. I muttered something like:
Well, he is a man – I am not gay, you know.
She hung up on me.
Another one was obsessed with the virginity of the Virgin Mary. As a “faithful” non-believer, I disputed the claim. I pointed out that even if we accept the concept of “divine” conception, ie without penetration, Mary could not be a virgin, because, aside from having numerous other children, there is no claim of “divine” delivery or delivery by “Cesarian section.“ Upon hearing that, the devout lady disappeared.
A third woman, who had also missed my non-believer entry, wanted to take me to her Bible study to discuss the Jesus Miracles, because, she theorized, they proved him to be the son of god.
Miracles? There is a plethora of evangelical preachers who perform such miracles weekly on television. Are they also God’s offspring? Did your Jesus ever perform an indisputable miracle like replacing a decapitated head, a missing eye, an arm or a leg?
That was the end of that relationship.
After these encounters, it became quite obvious that my irreligiosity was becoming a serious obstacle to finding a suitable love-mate.
Now to the issue of age. I was 76-years-old at the time, not exactly the ideal age for the pursuit of new amours. However, let it be known that my health was outstanding and that I had never been ill enough to enter a hospital as a patient. I was playing tennis 3 to 4 times per week and bicycling 5 to 10 miles every other day. On the basis of all that, I convinced myself that a 60- or even a 50-year-old woman was within my reach.
Well, I was quite mistaken. Here in the USA, unlike the rest of the world, the majority of women expect their partner to be of comparable age. I made some attempts to contact ladies in their 50s or 60s, but they were either rebuffed or totally ignored. It was a shocking “reality check” as the old saying goes.
Necessity, then, forced me to start contacting 70-year old-women, or older. That, in itself, limits the pool considerably. Many at that age are computer illiterate and the ones who aren’t, have significant health issues.
Let me include two examples to illustrate this health problem.
I was to meet one woman at the door of a restaurant one evening, but after waiting for a while I decided to declare her a no-show and leave. Just as I was pulling out I received an urgent phone call from her. She was actually in the parking lot, but could not get out of her car because her left knee had frozen.
Another woman fell asleep on me while I was reading the restaurant menu. I woke her up to apologise for being a boring companion and she confessed that she dozes off during most of the the day and stays awake all night because of a sleeping disorder. She slept during the entire dinner – even snored a bit – and then she packaged her food to eat it later, after midnight. How she managed to stay awake during our preliminary phone chats, remains an unsolved mystery
But I have already digressed a lot. I must now concentrate on my main story.
One August morning, I woke up and found an email from a 60-year-old woman whose entry under “religion” was atheist/humanist. She wrote that she yearned to meet a like-minded fellow, especially one who had the guts to admit his lack of faith in this hostile, pious, southern environment. Delightful, I thought, delightful. And it didn’t hurt that she looked quite stunning in all her photos. This is a case I must pursue with vigor, I muttered to myself with joy.
The exchange of lively e-mails continued for a few days and then I called her. Her voice was sweet, even sexy, and we talked for an hour or two, discussing current affairs, poking fun at the South’s religious fervor, solving many of the world’s sticky problems, even suggesting ways to attain everlasting peace. There was no question, I thought, this was a match made in . . . heaven (sorry!). The time had come to meet each other in a real life setting.
We agreed on Starbuck’s in nearby Winter Park. When I got there, I found her sitting outside with a large coffee in her hand – she had arrived early and had purchased her own coffee. She looked exactly like her photos – an uncommon occurrence at Match.com. This woman is a real jewel and all the men who have rejected her so far are fools, I surmised. Pleasant-looking, smart, interesting and . . . frugal.
She even passed the test I use for women I meet for the first time: I wouldn’t mind seeing her . . . naked. This is not an easy test to pass at such ages, by any means. To summarize, the lady seemed to be such a serendipitous find, that I was actually starting to worry that I might not pass her tests or standards.
We exchanged a few pleasantries and then I went inside to get my own coffee, while my mind was hard at work staging exciting conversations to impress her.
It was early evening and Starbucks was booming with customers, while Park Avenue was packed with natives and tourists. I got my coffee, sat down next to her and and I started a conversation about Internet dating. We readily agreed that non-believers like us are rare birds in dating sites and I quickly interjected that I was pleasantly surprised to receive her e-mail, considering our age difference. She shrugged that off, and we started talking about the funny aspects of the Match.com Profiles.
“Have you noticed,” I asked laughingly, “that nearly all women, young and old, list as their favorite activity the taking of a romantic walk on the beach?”
“Not really,” she replied. “I only read men’s profiles. Have you noticed that most older men imply that they are still desirous of sex, especially the oral version?”
“No, I haven’t. Like you, I don’t read profiles of like-sexed people,” I replied.”But I didn’t write that in my profile because I thought it was obvious, It certainly is as good a reason as any to seek a female partner,” I added half-jokingly, half-inquisitively.
From that, I steered us to a wide gamut of subjects like politics, life in retirement, travel in exotic places, ethnic foods, cultural events in Florida and other topics where I could be a keen conversationalist and throw out some poignant or thoughtful remarks. It was amazing how convergent our views were in all these diverse subjects. Besides that, she was pleasantly vibrant and comfortable, and, dare I say it, quite happy to be conversing with a smart fellow like myself.
The whole encounter was turning out to be too good to be true–it is not often that expectations are exceeded in such situations. In fact, It all looked so perfect that my mind was already rushing ahead, planning a slew of activities for the near and distant future.
And then it happened.
I was casually glancing at an old guy with colorful striped shorts for a few seconds, and when I turned to look at her, I noticed a change in her face, a sort of sequential metamorphosis from joviality to melancholy and then to severe gloominess. I reached over to ask her if anything was wrong, but before I could say anything, she started talking in a guttural, rhythmic voice.
“You know,” she uttered, “while we are here enjoying ourselves, aliens in disk-like ships are circling the earth, kidnapping humans, carrying them inside their ships, brainwashing them and returning them to earth as their agents. The government is aware, but they are denying their existence and are ridiculing anyone who dares to mention it. I know all this as I was personally taken by them and . . .”
I was on the verge of swallowing some coffee but, upon hearing this, I choked on it, spewed most of it out like a jerking lawn sprinkler and started gasping for air. A passerby noticed my predicament and rushed to my rescue only to stumble on a protruding cobblestone and fall facedown on the sidewalk. His chin struck a sidewalk paver causing blood to start spewing in all directions.
New people rushed to his and my aid, and the result was a chaotic scene which can not be adequately described and which I did not easily forget. It remained vividly etched in my mind for the remainder of my Match.com days.
That’s the end of the story of a potentially great romance cut short at its infancy – anything else I might add would be superfluous. I hope that by putting it down in writing, the disappointment in my heart will ease and I might finally attain the needed closure.
• Dr Tzannes is a retired Professor of Electrical Engineering who lives in Orlando, FL, with his wife Elena Sumtsova. He has published a multitude of books and research articles in his field of communication and radar systems, but after retirement, he turned to fiction and non-fiction in other fields, including religion and human behavior. Among his recent books are Life Without God, A Guide to Fulfillment Without Religion, and a collection of short stories entitled Irreligious, Sacrilegious and Other Tales. More on the author here.