I watched my finger hit the enter button of my laptop as if my very finger was not attached to my hand. I felt crazy. I felt nervous. I felt excited and disappointed all at the same time. With one stroke of a key and a click of the mouse, I had bought myself a three month subscription to Yahoo Personals. Oh what a fool I am. I wasn’t even looking for a relationship. A well meaning friend forwarded me a profile of someone from Yahoo Personals. The subject heading of the e mail said. “I think she would be perfect for you.” With both skepticism and curiosity, I perused the photo and favorite quote followed by a list of promises of unwavering fidelity, fireside evenings of romance, walks on sandy beaches and the oh so tempting allure of professions of love, written on sticky notes , tucked away in a lunch bag, that she no doubt would be packing for me.
As I continued to read, the seduction had already begun. With only a first name and a quote from Golda Meir, I was compelled to reach out to the image on the screen. I scrolled, scrolled, scrolled, until I reached a button at the bottom of the screen that said
“Want to send a message to Anne?”
Of course I did. With each click of the mouse I felt myself getting closer to Anne. Then a question,
“Would you like to send an icebreaker to Anne?” Never one to read the directions, I clicked yes.
As I mentally anticipated what I would write, a message appeared, “Your icebreaker has been sent”
“Sent? Sent? What was sent? Much to my horror, what I sent was one of six random messages that apparently anyone can send for free.
I read with shock and horror the message I had willingly sent to my new girlfriend Anne.
“Someone thinks you’re cute.”
I wouldn’t even use the word cute to describe a kitten. What was Anne going think of me? I sounded like a cliché. My lovely Anne, my new life partner, taken from me before our love had even grown, no walks on sandy beaches, no sticky notes in my lunch bag, love snuffed out before our life candles were even lit.
I searched feverously for a way to retrieve the message. The more I tried the deeper my love grew. Then, as if the love Gods heard my silent cries for help, the MapQuest of my heart showed me the way. The way took the form of a three tiered package which all required a credit card. If I wanted to just email Anne, a onetime message, if only to clarify my true intentions, it was going to cost me 19.99, however if I wanted access to Anne for as long as a month, it would cost me 29.99. Then appealing to the bargain hunter in me there was a third option of 59.99 which gave me full access to numerous “matches” as they are called, email updates and a plethora of woman all mine for the choosing. Deep in love’s snare, I chose the three month package. I quickly submitted my credit card information, budget be damned. After 6 failed attempts at proving I was human, I finally deciphered the string of letters and numbers correctly and my application was approved. It was hardly a vetting process. This was a club that’s only requirement was a credit card and proof that you were human.
I clicked my way back to the girl of my dreams and sent her an email that included a lengthy explanation about the ice breaker message I had mistakenly sent, how I was new at all this, a virtual virgin dater, but if she was interested in getting together, or something, or coffee or something, it would be nice. No nice was a sweater your great aunt knits you for your birthday, it would be cool, no too youthful and so it went for almost two hours until I had fully rewritten the entire mail removing the provocative word “virgin” and lamely suggesting we speak on the phone but neglected to leave my phone number.
Finally I hit send.
Days passed with no word, no yield from my 59.99 investment. Finally a message from my beloved arrived. So sorry she didn’t get back to me sooner, she met someone on Match.com and was going to see where it took her. I think she closed with something about keeping my resume on file for a year and thanked me for applying.
I searched the Yahoo web site in vain to ask for a refund. My monthly bank statement served as further reminder of my fool hardy ways. Worse Yahoo Personals kept sending me emails; all implying love was just a few key strokes away. “Here are 5 new matches for Robyn, 6 People viewed your profile, 4 people saved your profile, and there are 8 messages for Robyn.”
For weeks I ignored the emails. I didn’t even understand what most of them were implying. Yet, every so often that 59.99 popped back in my head, so one day in a futile attempt to recoup my financial loss, I opened one of the many Yahoo emails. By now there were dozens of messages for me from tattooed women named Sal and several who looked old enough to be my mother offering to cook for me and take care of me. More than half the messages were ice breakers, the very message that drew me into this snare. I considered anyone who sent an ice breaker message to be a cheap skate and unworthy of my time. I was only looking in the 59.99 club.
Each profile sounded like the next. They all were looking for someone honest, not into playing games, as if stating this were a deterrent to the dishonest game players among the singles crowd. While all of the profiles seeped with desperation and a sick neediness to be loved, not one of them claimed they were interested in more than friendship. For 59.99, even I expected more than friendship. At 60.00 bucks I expected to get laid. Couldn’t they find friendship for free? I soon discovered that these particular women could not. Many thought it appropriate to give all their attentions to their last lover, leaving them alone and isolated. Although they had no friends, I found this one quality somewhat appealing as I would not have to ingratiate myself to anyone else’s friends. The only thing more appealing then friendless was orphaned.
Numerous women described themselves as “dumped” Most of them had been dumped multiple times. Dumped sounded too much like used, thrown away, leftover, while better then friendless, I found these self titled descriptions on par with sick and needy.
Then, as if to say, “We already got your 59.00, we don’t care what we send you for matches, “ Yahoo Personals started to send me profiles of woman who hated kids, smoke and drink to excess, have little or no education, and at 57 years old still live with their parents.
Having viewed more photos of dogs then their owners I realize there is a scam like quality to this whole endeavor. And then, comes Emmaline, with her artsy black and white photo, smart witty profile, funny, even has an air of mystery about her, well educated, listens to NPR, she an anomaly among this myriad of looking for a life partner to put sticky notes in your lunch bag kind of women. She sent me a message. It said I caught her eye.
She lived well beyond my geographically desirable 50 miles radius. She lived in Maryland, or maybe Connecticut, or maybe Massachusetts. It didn’t matter. She is outside the bounds of my specified 42-55 age group. I don’t really care. I am not looking for the love of my life. I wrote her. She wrote me back. She was funny in a weird kind of way. Perhaps I should have made myself clear, stated my intentions, my reason for writing her. I was really trying to use up some of that 59.99 I’d wasted on Anne. I was perfectly happy with a pen pal. She writes. I write. She explains the whole lives in Maryland, lived in Massachusetts, originally from Connecticut thing.
She was young. She was divorced. She was straight, gay, bi. Her real name was Alex. Emma was her dog. There was this guy names Mark. Mark shared my political views. That was great, whoever Mark was.
The next email started with laying everything out for me. I was working off my 59.99 worth of entertainment while Emmaline AKA Alex was inviting me to be her sister wife. In fairness to her, she did say that they had thus so far not had very good luck meeting “people” on line. I could only imagine why. She confessed that they had met many fakes and quite a few people that are just looking for sex and not interested in love or a serious relationship. Not like her and her friend Mark. They thought perhaps I might be interested. I should please understand that they were not looking for a toy or plaything, just hoping to find someone that was interested in a serious permanent relationship, meaning Mark, Alex and I, equal partner in a triad "marriage". Alex was a lesbian until she met Mark in December 2005 and Mark was in a triad relationship a few years ago. I was repulsed. I was flattered. Imagine me, a catch in the world of polygamy. Were Alex and Mark planning to help me raise my four children? Were moving expenses included in the deal? Would we be living on a compound with other polygamists? Would I have to become Mormon? I hate those dresses the women wear. I went to my Netflix account and ordered season one of HBO’s Big Love.
I never responded to Alex’s last email. I got my 59.00 dollars worth.