Look Out Life, Here I Come!

I gave up dating when I was nineteen. It was too much like trying to slog my way through a pool of molasses without any of the sweetness to make the experience palatable. I remember once the boy took me to a nice restaurant, and then sat there like a lump. Perhaps he figured that since he was paying for the meal I had to entertain him, but if I said something, his eyes would glaze over or he’d shift his gaze away to look at anything but me. If I asked a question about him, he’d respond in as few words as possible, then lapse into shifty silence again. It was like dropping a pebble into the sand. No ripples of conversation. Just a few dull words plunked on the table between us. If it was only him this happened with, I might not have been so quick to exit the dating scene, but it was typical of ripplesall my dates. Which was okay. I didn’t want to fall in love, didn’t want to spend my life with anyone, didn’t want to be tied down.

Because of this dating experience, my meeting Jeff — the man I would spend thirty-four years of my life with — came as a total shock. I stopped into his health food store one day and happened to drop a few verbal pebbles. He took those pebbles, skimmed them across the space between us, creating ripples galore. Then he tossed more pebbles into the conversational waters while I was skimming those pebbles back to him. All those ripples caused a tide pool that kept me connected to him until he died. (I was an hour late for work that day we met, and when I told my boss and co-workers why, they laughed, thinking I was making a joke since they knew my history with the opposite sex.)

For the past few months, a friend has been trying to talk me into joining an online dating site, and I finally succumbed. I don’t want another lifelong relationship. I don’t even want to fall in love. But it would be nice to have someone to do things with. Go out to lunch once in a while. Maybe go bowling or to the beach. Something.

My friend has been finding matches for me, so I’ve been writing to her choices as well as the site’s matches. Only three people responded, and oh, man. Talk about regressing back to adolescence. Conversational pebbles plunking into the sand. No ripples. Just dead end thuds.

Don’t people know how to converse, in person or online? It’s simple. I say/write something, expressing an interest in you, then you say/write something, expressing an interest in me.

I wrote charming notes to dozens of prospects, referring to things they posted on their profiles and ending with a pertinent question to get the conversational ripples going. The three who responded answered the question in monosyllables, and that was it. When I responded to their response, I got even fewer syllables. No show of interest in me or in anything, actually.

One of the three claimed to be funny, to love jokes and all kinds of humor. I thought we might have a few laughs, but he found my attempt at humor insulting, and I found him pedantic. One guy claimed to love words, but when I offered a bit of word play and the link to a cool word site, he merely thanked me. Plunk.

I thought this would be hard because of my not being ready, but it’s hard in a way I never even imagined. Like reliving adolescence. Still, I didn’t really expect anything from the site. Signing up was mostly a symbolic way of throwing myself into the future. A way of saying, “Look out life, here I come!”


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

15 Responses to “Look Out Life, Here I Come!”

  1. rami ungar the writer Says:

    I’m not sure where you’re finding these men, what site you’re on or whatever, but it sounds like you’re better off just letting all the factors of life take you where you’re meant to go.

  2. unchainedsoul Says:

    I agree with you wholeheartedly. I am not much of a conversationalist, but I try to keep it flowing if I can. All I can think of is men want some sort of instant gratification, like after a few messages back and forth you’ll turn into his dream of saying let’s cam on skype and I will take my clothes off. That’s how I view it. Like the last poster said, I don’t know what site you are on, but some of them are a sea of creeps that you just have to wade through.

  3. Kathy Says:

    I agree – never did like dating. I much preferred chatting with somebody at work or some place else and letting things flow naturally. But life changes and so you’re having a new adventure – that is awesome! I totally related to the scene in “Sleepless in Seattle” when he jumped back into the dating scene after being away for years – everything is different, yet some things are the same. I know – I had to jump back in later in life and found my soul mate.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Funny — I was thinking of that very scene as I was writing this article!

      I don’t really want to date. I just want to go out and have a bit of fun — go bowling maybe, or play miniature golf. I’ve only done those things once in my life.

      Yes, new adventures. Strange to be in such a place in my life.

  4. Carol Says:

    I have to be honest: I can’t imagine ever venturing onto any kind of dating site. The idea of deliberately checking people out with the specific goal of finding someone who’s compatible with me and my interests just seems too artificial to result in anything good. I do understand your reluctance about dating, though. I never could get into that either. But I truly hope you encounter someone who becomes a very good friend. Every serious relationship needs to begin with a special friendship.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I couldn’t imagine it, either, but I’m trying to do things I never imagined doing. I don’t know what to think of the experience. I assumed it would be sort of like a social networking site, and I’m okay with that — I’ve made a lot of friends online, even met some of them, but most are not close enough to go to lunch with or go on a picnic or do anything except write or talk. I am not looking for a serious relationship. I still have a lot of living to do.

  5. Wanda Says:

    Being divorced after 26 years of marriage put me in the same sort of thing. I had never dated in my life, a long story, but anyway you look at it, life and dating are totally different from when we were young girls. I did online match-ups, in person blind dates and finally just wanted what you expressed: someone to do things with…turned out I met the guy for me after kind of giving up on the whole thing. You never know where the right person for you will pop up from. I believe there are many ‘soul mates’ in each life. I hope you find your next one when it’s the right time for you both. Hugs dear

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I’m not sure I want another long term relationship, which is probably a good thing. I have absolutely nothing in common with the people they’ve been matching me up, including language. I know I’m picky, but I’d prefer someone with a smattering of articulateness.

  6. Agonizing Decisions that Take Us Nowhere | Bertram's Blog Says:

    […] I mentioned before, a friend talked me into joining an online dating site. I didn’t want to do it — I’m […]

  7. M.B. Chandler Says:

    After my divorce years ago I dabbled in chatting online and meet an assortment of characters. One in particular was always polite but never made you much conversation. On a whim one day after chatting over a couple years I suggested meeting for a beer not expecting much to come of it. We ended up spending the whole day together and now it’s been 12 years. You just never know. Keep taking chances if only for the chance of
    one diamond among stones.

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