Gigi’s Terrors of Online Dating
I officially, officially, officially, – How many officiallys am I at now?,” she would habitually ask her best friends, “GIVE UP!” Gigi threw down her iPhone in disgust. Things were so much easier when Gigi was younger, before the divorce, before the teenage children, before being in her 40’s, before the absolute terrors of online dating.
Whatever happened to meeting someone, falling in love and happily ever afters? What about meeting someone the normal way, face to face, feeling that instant attraction, dating each other, and building a serious relationship? When did dating become like picking your favorite ice cream, demolishing it in seconds, discarding the cone, and moving on to another flavor within days? When did dating become a choice of picking out a face on the computer, reading a profile (almost always filled with horrendous grammar and spelling mistakes that made Gigi cringe right down to her painted toes – in her very stylish heels), having to (gasp!) be the one to make the first move, and then go through all the online steps of asking about his favorite this and his favorite that, arranging to meet someone who looks nothing like the ten year old photo he had posted, and then wanting to run away screaming into the night?
“Oh how low the mighty have fallen,” she thought to herself. This was after a month of arranging blind dates with, in the following order, but not necessarily in order of craziness or hilarity:
Nardo, a small, bald, big-eared Guatemalan man who looked like Gollum in Lord of the Rings, who told her that he had fallen in love with her at first sight and wanted to meet her children and be their best friend. “Do we get a say in this?” asked her oldest son, Timmy, when he heard. Gigi would share some details of her dates with her sons, wanting them to see what women go through in the dating world, so as to ensure that they would never, ever treat women like that once they got older. The funnier the dates, the more her sons laughed and enjoyed asking her about how they went. It got so that they could tell from Gigi’s face on her return if it had been a bad date, a hilariously bad date, or a good date. Sadly, the bad way outnumbered the good. Once or twice her sons even rescued her from bad dates, when they phoned and she was able to use them as an excuse to leave. On those days, she would take them out for ice cream, thank them for being the only males she loved and could trust, and again would warn them repeatedly never to treat women badly.
But that date with Nardo would fall into the category of “What was I thinking?” They went to an all you can eat Chinese buffet and he proceeded to try and feed her from his plate, and asked her when he could see her again, and wasn’t it an amazing first date, and didn’t she just feel the connection? He gave her a belated Valentine present: a set of 24 animal encyclopedias from 1975, you know the ones – the encyclopedias we all had as teenagers before computers and internet replaced them all. Whatever happened to the poor men who tried to sell them? Nardo bought them for her because she’d told him she loved to read. Encyclopedias! 24 of them! About animals yet! Whatever happened to chocolate and roses? To books of poetry? At least those would have been on clearance since it was the week after Valentine’s Day.
It was a horrendous dinner in which he was already planning their future, and Gigi was trying to discourage him by telling him about all the awful things she had done in her life. He told her that it wasn’t her fault, but the fault of the men that she had dated. That he was the root to her tree, the sun to her flower, and that they were meant to be together. They had made plans to go to her salsa club afterwards, and Gigi was mortified to have to take him there. It turned out that they had many friends in common, and both his and her friends nearly fell over in shock and laughter when they saw her with him. Gigi was beautifully dressed, in her usual flirty salsa outfit, and Nardo had on a baseball cap, a lumberjack plaid flannel shirt, pants that were too short, and socks that were rolled up to his knees. Not only that, but besides being bald and big eared, he had sweaty hands and could not dance salsa – not one solitary salsa step.
He kept stepping on her toes and apologizing profusely, and Gigi soon couldn‘t take it anymore. So she asked a friend of hers to rescue her from the date from hell and keep her dancing all night long, thinking this would make Nardo angry, as he watched from the corner of the dance floor. Oh no. When she finally stopped dancing, he told her that she looked beautiful, spinning and twirling around, and that he could watch her dance all night long. Even when the night was over, and the salsa club had closed its doors and kicked them all out, Gigi’s nightmare of a date had not yet ended.
Much to her dismay, she realized that she still had to take him home because Gollem, I mean Nardo, didn’t even have a car. The whole drive to his house, she worried about how she’d avoid having to kiss him. Just the thought of that reptilian mouth latching onto her pouty lips, and sucking off the last of her lipstick made her want to gag inside. But Nardo was a true, yet disgusting looking, gentleman, and never even tried. He ever so considerately told her to please call him the minute she got home, asking her if she’d be all right driving the 45 minutes to her house. Gigi looked at him in disbelief. Hadn’t she been driving herself around the Detroit area for the past umpteen years? She told him that she was a big girl, and quite capable of driving herself home.
He called her twice on that drive home, asking her when he could see her again. Gigi told him she’d have to check her very busy calendar, that even though it was completely blank, was filling up surprisingly fast with things like: get her laundry done, volunteer for the homeless shelter in Detroit where she’d have to wear a bullet-proof vest, get that pesky root canal done that she’d been avoiding for months, finally get that foot surgery that she’d needed for years, something, anything rather than go out with Nardo again.
Even though he was a kind-hearted soul and would have given her his kidney if needed, or any major organ for that matter, Gigi couldn’t bear the thought of having to see that Gollem-like face looking up her with absolute adoration and hopeful eyes. It took a month of phone calls on his part to gently ease him out of her life. Gigi was a kind soul and hated to ignore phone calls, unlike many of the online men out there.
He was followed by Simon, a paranoid obsessive compulsive Jewish man who called every five minutes to see if she was on her way to their date, and how long ago had she left, and was she closer now, and when would she get there, and how far away was she now, and why wasn’t she there yet? Because HE was there. So where was she? And she arrived ten minutes early! And that was even after stopping in a small boutique on the way there to buy the cutest little dress that she saw in the window. He then spent the whole dinner complaining about his ex-wife and her family, and how it took all his money to get rid of them. Whoever said that Jewish men make the best husbands (dear Aunt Frieda) had never met him. And then after all that, he didn’t even walk Gigi to her car. How rude! Well, at least she didn’t have to ward off an unwanted kiss or two, and she was quite happy to never hear from him again.
Not being picky about race, nationality or religions, she then tried Carlos, a Mexican gentle giant who spoke not a word unless spoken to, except to repeat over and over again what a great band the bar had (great band it was NOT). He was enormous in height and size, and when he stood up to greet her, Gigi had to look up and crane her neck. He was an engineer and supposedly he had just sold his enormous home and his sports car and was now living with his sister (what a catch!). They sat there for hours, eating bowl after bowl of popcorn, and Gigi was tempted to flirt with the cute guy at the bar, but no, she stuck to her date till the bitter end. He had walked to their date, and he asked her to drive him home. He was so huge, he could have crushed her with one hand. Thank God he was gentle! He reminded her of Herman Munster and she had no desire to be Lily Munster, no thank you. That was another date in which there was no more communication. Which was great. Gigi hated having to tell someone that she was not interested. It felt so cruel. It was so much easier when both parties went off and never contacted each other again.
Then came Karl, a truly nerdy African American computer geek who kept asking her what she was thinking every five minutes till she wanted to scream at him exactly what she was thinking: “Someone rescue me!” They had very little in common and Gigi was bored to tears. At least this bar did have a good band. He was so quiet, and she had to be the one to keep the conversation going, and his only contribution to the conversation was to ask her what she was thinking. After three or four times, that is a very difficult and annoying question to answer.
He was pulled over by the police that night for unpaid speeding tickets and spent the night in jail. Honest to God! Thankfully he didn’t use his one phone call to call Gigi because all she would have been willing to give were the remaining few of the precious animal encyclopedias that were not holding up the wiggly washing machine. She should have run away when he went to the bathroom. Karl actually contacted her weeks later to tell her what had happened, and he kept trying to make another date to meet her, but then he would disappear the day of the date. Very strange. For weeks later her sons, Timmy and Shane would ask her at random times what she was thinking, and they would all crack up laughing hysterically.
Next Gigi met Todd for coffee. She knew within minutes that it was not going to work. They followed each other to the movies, with Gigi seriously considering running away, but she had been brought up to be a polite young lady, and polite young ladies just do not do that sort of thing. She had to endure hours in his company, first coffee, then a movie and then dinner. Gigi just did not know how to end a terrible date gracefully, or how to make a quick exit.
Todd was an engineer, and at age 44, had never been married and had no children, and was probably still a virgin. “There’s a reason for that,” thought Gigi in despair, as she saw him picking through his salad, telling her that he simply adored red tomatoes, but could not bear the thought of onions. He then proceeded to thoroughly pick to pieces the great movie they had just seen (Juno) and rant and rave about teenage pregnancies and what a terrible role model Juno was for today’s children. She’d loved the movie and had admired Juno’s plucky character. She almost felt like lying and telling him that she’d had her first child at age 16! Gigi sighed with relief when that awful date finally came to an end, and he got into his prissy little red car, that looked just like his precious tomatoes. Don’t ask Gigi what kind of car it was. She can only recognize corvettes and porshes, and unfortunately none of the men Gigi ever met had those kinds of cars.
Then there was poor Don, whose fiancée had died. That should have been a real warning flag right from the start. Forget about never living up to momma’s cooking. Who could ever live up to a dead fiancée who had been perfect in his eyes? But still Gigi tried. He loved to dance like she did, so they arranged to meet at a salsa club. He told her he had taken ballet lessons for years (and still took them – yes I KNOW another huge warning flag that was ignored). Gigi showed up in her little black salsa dress, and his poor eyes almost bugged out. She should have realized at that moment, that she was already intimidating the poor shy man (another computer geek who worked from home, so as not to have to leave his dog alone. The dog was all that he had left from, yes you guessed it, the dead fiancée). Gigi took the salsa lesson with him, and when the music started, she asked him to dance. He told her he wanted to observe for a bit, so she first danced with a friend. This friend twirled and swirled Gigi around the dance floor, so that her hair swooped the floor, and she saw poor Don edging towards the exit. She was able to dance one dance with him. His ballet feet were not able to translate into salsa feet and muttering about having to drive all the way to Ann Arbor to let out his dog, he ran away… Poor Don…. he probably resolved to stay away from European women forever. He will always be poor Don to her. She was home an hour after leaving for her date, and her sons laughed at this new story, asking her for the next few weeks if they too could take ballet lessons and stay home from school to be with their dog. Kids! They helped keep her sane by keeping her sense of humor alive.
By the time it was the turn of the high school drop out truck driver recovering from cancer (I kid you not), she’d had enough. She’d found him on one of the free websites she‘d joined in despair, when the so-called prestigious dating sites that charged her an arm and a leg to meet total losers had let her down. She cancelled their date, telling him she had developed a sudden contagious illness: SDOD (Severe Dislike of Online Dating). To this day she cannot recall his name. She still feels rather bad about breaking off their date, but such is life.
And that was just one month out of many in the two years of online dating. And she had tried them all: eHarmony, Match, Chemistry, Singlesnet, SpeedDate, You-Name-It.com. All these comical dates didn’t include the many she turned down because they wanted to know, after just five minutes of talking to them, what she was wearing. Calling her “Babe” or “Sexy”, and wondering why a gorgeous woman like herself was alone! AGHH! That comment never failed to make her scream silently in despair every time she heard it.
Then there were the mysterious disappearances (still under investigation by the Online Dating Police): the kidnapping of online men by aliens or maybe they were unwilling victims of Witness Protection Programs. If you have ever chatted to people online, you’ll know what I mean. One minute they are talking non-stop to you, the next they are gone without a word, without a goodbye or an explanation, simply vanishing into the nether world of online dating. Serial daters, Gigi called them… extremely rude serial daters!
The worst of it was the one date that had gone amazingly well. She had truly bungled it, to put it politely. They had emailed and called for almost a month before meeting in person. Ronald was so funny and made her laugh so hard at times, that she drew the attention of total strangers in stores as she bent over gasping and yes, snorting with laughter in public. He called her Sha Sha Na, and she called him Le’Ro. He was African American and so he could make fun of ghetto names. He invented a background for her, one filled with six kids from four different men. He actually told this story straight faced to his family after their second funny laugh-all-night date. He even told them that she had shown up to the date dragging three of her badly dressed kids with her, and had to wait for their ghetto father to pick them up. At this point in his story, his sisters (who had unghettolike names) realized he was pulling their legs and burst out laughing.
But it was not to meant to be, due to a bungling of Titanic proportions, one that would go down in the annals of history of dates gone horribly wrong – the bungling was all once again due to technology, and would never have happened in her youth. She could have been well and truly happily married by now, if it hadn’t been for her darned iPhone and a teensy weensy little iPhone text mix up…. ok, a holy heck of a mix up actually, maybe hilariously funny now, but downright horrendous and mind boggling at the time. She sent a text meant for her girlfriend to Le’Ro after their great second date… as she saw the text on its way to him, she screamed “Nooooooooo” trying to stop it. No luck. He was able to read in full and complete detail just what she thought of him (all good), and how her other two dates had gone that week, and how she was looking forward to her next two dates (not so good). Needless to say that was the end of Le’Ro for a very long time. He came back months later and actually became a very good friend of Gigi’s. He gives her his male perspective on her love life, and loves hearing all about her adventures, but that’s another story. Strangely enough, they have not once ever mentioned that teensy weensy text mix-up.
This month of dating was so terrible that Gigi made an error next. She settled. For the very next nice man she met, Arthur, whose son went to the school district where she taught, and she thought was made for her because they read the same books, watched the same television shows, lived just one mile from her house, and while he was in the Navy, he had been to her hometown where she’d grown up. She’d actually been on his Navy ship when he was on it, although of course, they never met. Not only that, but in college his fraternity initials were the same as those of her name, and he’d had them tattooed on his arm, so she thought it was meant to be. It took nine months of dating him before she realized she had settled. Settled for someone who couldn’t even tell her that he loved her. Settled for someone who wouldn’t let her be involved with his children. She realized that she had to be brave enough to move on, and OH God, try it all over again.