Sunday, May 15, 2011

Dear Miss Cyberhearts...

I returned to the west coast last year from the east coast, for a number of reasons. On the list, but quite low on it, was the fact that I was desperately lonely.

Oh, I had a girlfriend. I was crazy about her, as who wouldn't be? She was wonderful: smart, beautiful, sexy, tender, caring...the problem was that I seldom saw her. Her career came first, her children second, her parents third, and so on. I think I ranked about ninth. I was lucky if I saw her once a week. The rest of the time it was just me and my shadow, driving the PT Cruiser down the avenue.

Well, it's been ten months (to the day, actually) since I pulled back into southern California.

And I am still desperately lonely. My best friend at the moment is a tiny, aged chihuahua dog named Callie. She's good company, but you can't really discuss the films of Ingmar Bergman with her. She prefers a lemon cookie. I try to have one handy whenever she comes to the back door. She's too old to bark anymore; she just makes this sort of chirping sound and I know it's she.

Coin toss: which was it that sent me back to dating's version of a Black Hole, Was it loneliness or boredom?

Both, I guess.

I do NOT believe in cyberdating. It doesn't work. Only once in my life has a meet-your-mate web site ever gotten me as far as a dating relationship. Her name was Tanya. We had a summer romance of sorts, then, right after 9/11, she dumped me like an overripe casaba melon. I never really knew why. Several years later we had dinner together and all she would tell me was that it wasn't because of another guy. I guess that was supposed to make me feel better.

I think part of my problem with Tanya was the same problem that Allan Felix had. He's the character Woody Allen played in Play It Again, Sam. If you remember that flick, Allan was a movie critic. And a movie fanatic. He lived vicariously through the movies. His wife Linda didn't like that. She wanted more excitement. So she left him. "She said I didn't make her laugh. Insufficient laughter, that's grounds for divorce now," he complains. "And she wants to go skiing. She wants to ski down the side of a mountain, laughing like an idiot."

Tanya was about 10 years my junior, and I think she wanted more of a wild-n'-crazy guy than me. I'm not against doing things on impulse, but I am kind of a creature of habit. Left to my own devices, I'll go to bed at 10 p.m. Tanya wanted more, I guess, than just a good cook who could be relied upon to show up on time, and was able to talk about Tolstoy, Scriabin and Billy Wilder.

Okay, let's get the obvious downside to cyberdating out of the way first. Everyone knows this. People LIE on dating websites. They trim years off their ages, pounds off their bodies and inflate their resumes. Fortysomethings tend to post pictures of themselves that were taken shortly after high school. If the average cyberdating profile is to be believed, an awful lot of skydiving candidates for Congress were late for picking up their Oscars because their Lamborghinis were being repaired.

Okay, I'm exaggerating. But not by much.

One of my other problems with cyberdating is its total lack of parity. Women on these web sites get so much more e-mail than men do that they can easily pick and choose during the sorteo. Men are at a disadvantage; we don't get anywhere near as many "winks" as women do, so we can't be so choosy.

We're also much more readily disposed of, because the women know that if they give one of us a thump and don't like the sound, there are 256 more potential losers waiting out in the hallway, adjusting their pinkie rings and sucking in their stomachs.

But I have a new problem with cyberdating, one I just recognized after many vigils in front of the flickering screen. This one really depresses me, and I don't know why I never noticed it before.

Is there some professional profile-writing service out there, creating profiles for women at $25 a pop? Because I keep seeing the same things over and over. It's like somebody's using a template. "I'm new at this." "Gee, I've never done this before!" "I'm looking for THE ONE." "I'm not into games." (who is?) "I love sunsets, blues, white wine and clubs with live music." "I have a great sense of humor, LOL." (Gag me.) "Looking for my soulmate." (If you find him, let me know.) And so on and so on.

And while we're on that subject, would someone explain to me just what the heck "Spiritual, but not religious" means? It's like saying, "I'll have a Cafe au lait, only leave out the milk." Whatever it means, it sure seems to describe a lot of women, because an awful lot of them pick that instead of "Protestant," "Catholic," "Jewish," "Muslim" or whatever. Why not just check "No Choice" and skip the New Age gobbledygook?

Now, I have done this thing on both coasts, and I don't know if it's a coincidence or not, but logging on to a meet-your-mate website here in my native California, I'm dismayed at finding that just about every girl out there is a California Girl.

Ironic? Not really. The media created the "Angry White Male" and the "Soccer Mom," and the media also created the California Girl. As Billy Joel sang years ago, "Los Angelenos all come from somewhere." 

Most people who make a fetish of  living in southern California actually come from Michigan, Maryland or Ohio. I suspect that these "immigrants" helped create the stereotype, but there is definitely a perceived "California mindset." And as I peruse the profiles on within 50 miles of San Diego, I'm seeing altogether too much of this kind of stuff: "I'm into yoga, rock-climbing, raw vegetables, holistic wheat germ and my own personal style of spirituality." Bully for you, Ms. Dalai Lama. Get outta here. 

Maybe my bar is set too high. I'm looking for a woman who can write Basic English. That lets about 90 percent of the population off. "I'm looking for a man that can make me laugh." That's, "a man WHO can me make me laugh," dear. Believe it or not, men, like women, are "who's," not "that's."

 And I don't want to read about how you love "car's," "dog's" and being sent "flower's." Go text yourself.

The only place I have ever met women that seems to be worthwhile is at work. That was fine when I was working for the government, or for a technology company on the east coast. But these days I'm driving a cab. People who take cabs fall into three basic categories, none of which bodes well for romance: (1) Those too old to drive themselves anymore. (2) Those who have had their licenses suspended for various felonies and misdemeanors, and (3) Drunks. Drunks are good tippers, as a rule, but dating one isn't on my bucket list.

So for now I'll probably keep poking, with a sinking heart and even lower expectations, on my keyboard, reading about all of those "optimistic, see-the-glass-as-half-full" types who love "champagne, sunsets, bath-with-candles and Dave Matthews," who are not seeking "a man to complete me," but rather looking for someone who is "sensitive, a good listener and likes the Denver Broncos." What the heck, it kills time.  And who knows? Maybe some of them are drunks who have had their licenses suspended, and might need a cab. If it isn't too much wear and tear on my heart, it might be good for business.