I signed up for an online dating site two or three months ago. It took one entire sleepless night to make the decision to do so. I’m not sure what I was afraid of — moving even further beyond my deceased life mate/soul mate perhaps. Or maybe falling in love again and tying my future to another person. (I’m not ready for that. I still need to find out what my life alone will bring.) Although I’m not looking for a serious relationship, I did think it would be fun to meet people, maybe go on a few dates, but the site turned out to be anticlimactic.
Inadvertantly, I’d created a profile that guaranteed I wouldn’t catch anyone’s attention — I told the truth about myself, used more than 95 words, didn’t downplay my intelligence, didn’t show cleavage, didn’t use words like “fun-loving” that could connote an eagerness for mattress games, and most of all, I didn’t lop years off my age.
Not surprisingly, nothing came of my fishing in the online dating pool. Not a single date. Not even a real message or connection, which I find strange. I frequently make connections over the internet. All sorts of interesting people find their way to me online. Many of my offline friends were once solely online friends. Many other online friends will one day become offline friends when we finally meet in person. And yet, on a site geared to bringing people together, I can’t make a single connection.
Still, I wanted a date, so last night I took myself out. Went to a fair. It wasn’t big as fairs go, but it had a Ferris wheel and that’s all I really wanted. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t let me go on the ride by myself. “It’s fair policy,” the ticket taker said. (I’m not sure how fair this fair policy is, since one of me is easily the equivalent of the the two children who climbed aboard at that moment.) As I turned away from the wheel, a young woman asked me, “Did he say you can’t go by yourself?” When I said yes, she looked disappointed and replied, “My daughter wants to go on the ride.” “Don’t you want to go with her?” I asked. She shook her head. I volunteered to partner up with her little girl. And she agreed.
So, we rode the Ferris wheel together, this little girl and I. We marveled at how beautiful the fair looked from the air and how small everyone seemed. She told me she was learning sign language and taught me how to say “I love you.” After thanking her for accompanying me and thanking the mother for letting her daughter chaperone me, I wandered around the grounds. Ate a caramel apple. Tossed pelota balls in a basket (all but one jumped right back out). Threw darts at balloons and won a stuffed frog.
I’ve always thought such games a waste of money — I could have bought a nicer frog for a fraction of the cost — but it wasn’t about the frog. It was about the experience. Immersing myself in a night of sponteneity.
On the way home, in the continued spirit of sponteneity, I stopped for an ice cream cone. (I can’t even remember the last time I did that.)
It was a great date. Maybe I’ll do it again some time.
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.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.