My very persistent neighbor: she was the one who in the young years of internet discovered a still sort of secret underground and introduced me to the world of on-line dating.
Back then, it was secretive – not something shared in casual conversation. She confided her success and mentioned more than once, I should do it. I thought it seemed a bit sketchy, perhaps unsafe.
Back then, it was quite general and sparsely specific. She affiliated with Ebony Matchmaker. There were other more general options: Boston Matchmaker, Atlanta Matchmaker. Detroit Matchmaker was the closest I was going to come. If you were in Michigan, that was the one to use.
One weekend evening with a bottle of wine, she sat me down to explore. After a while, we agreed I might as well complete the questionnaire even if I wasn’t planning on using the profile because it would help define what I was seeking in a mate. It wasn’t a quick easy click-click, yes or no, multiple choice deal. It required thought and time. Lots of time and no real “save” or “finish later” option.
Back then, it was dial-up and frequent failure and being cut-off if you were on too long. Back then, we got booted a lot, lost our work a lot.
Back then, it was hugely unusual, and unusually forward, but this site employed a primitive self-activated auto-save feature every 15 minutes or so. Back then, it was considered a state-of-the-art thing for a website portal to offer.
We were booted twice; once at about 45 minutes and 2/3 through with only a partial save, and again a break and another glass of wine later very shortly after starting over and losing the part I had just redone. “Forget this,” I said. “Waste of time, anyway.”
Ms. Persistence wouldn’t have it. We restarted the internet, re-logged in. I opened word-processing, quick-type abbreviated versions of the questions and formulated answers off-line. One more re-boot, re-log-in and it was done. I had a profile. And, I waited.
Within a few days, I had three communications. I went out with all three to very public places, employing safety measures. There was a Lansing Lugnuts game where I knew a promoter and shared my date plan. She stopped by our comped seats to say “Hi,” and check out how it was going. There was a coffee conversation in a small shop. I got there first again and parked very near the entry door. There was a dinner date at a new and local brewery, where I advised the hostess I may suddenly decide to leave, alone. That one became a second date at a movie theatre in Flint, where I told the confused ticket booth operator that I was nervous. Didn’t know why since I had already met him, but it made me feel better to just report.
I liked the movie theatre guy. We set another date. Friday night came and he canceled. We re-scheduled for the following Friday night – my birthday. Again, he canceled. This time announcing he wasn’t sure he’d reschedule because he had met another person on-line and was planning on going out with her again. If it didn’t work out, he would call me. I was not amused. I also hadn’t logged-in checked my account for a few weeks, unaware that I had been put on hold while he was shopping for something better.
Back then, picture uploads took a long time, required a lot memory and were always somewhat grainy. My somewhat long-load photo was taken at Universal Studios, Florida, while I was in the arms of King Kong. The shopper guy told me he almost didn’t wait for the photo to finish loading, thinking it was a fake profile.
I had one message waiting for me. The tiny size-of-a-postage-stamp on-screen photo attached was taken from a ways off, cropped. I could determine it was a man in a red shirt and jeans who appeared to be standing in a field. I wasn’t all that sure, but it looked as if he might have a beard, and a ball cap made it impossible to determine if he actually had hair.
The brief and simple, to-the-point, two-liner read, “Hi, my name is Jeff. Would you like to meet?”
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Facts and Figures: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/04/20/5-facts-about-online-dating/