"Give a Piece a Chance." — Books. Blog. Pie Classes. And a Pinch of Activism.

Experiment in Dating: Day One

After crying all day Saturday over Marcus and what would have been – SHOULD have been – his 45th birthday this past weekend, I decided it’s time. It’s time to stop wallowing in the past and bravely, boldly embrace the future. What I’m trying to say is two years after Marcus’ passing, it’s time to start dating again. Gulp.

Every day I peer out my windows and watch all those couples posing for photos in front of the American Gothic House. Even though I am proud of myself for my independence and ability to, um, “wear the overalls” so to speak, I wouldn’t mind having someone to stand by my side.

I miss Marcus. But Marcus isn’t coming back. So forward I go.

First, I timidly posted a little blurb on Facebook telling my friends – all 300 of them – that even though I was scared about it, I was open to dating again. I strategically posted this little tidbit at a time when not many people would see it — on the Fourth of July when everyone but me was out watching fireworks. I was surprised that (a) I had such a huge outpouring of support for this idea — “Yes! You are going to join the living again. You’re going to do great!” they commented, with about a hundred “Likes” — and (b) I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t out watching fireworks.

Spurred on by this support I took the next step. It’s the thing I preach to anyone who is looking to meet someone and complaining about not being able to. “Have you tried EVERYTHING?” I ask. “Have you signed up for Match.com?” Who am I to be a hypocrite? I got out my debit card and coughed up the sixty bucks for the three-month subscription. All the while feeling a growing wave of nausea in my stomach. This is what my life has come to?

My profile picture. Would you go out with
a girl wearing a chicken apron?

It’s been 24 hours now and here are the stats so far: 263 people have viewed my profile, 5 have labeled me as a “favorite,” I’ve had 18 “winks,” (I winked one, because he does triathlons, he’s been to Africa, and I liked his shoes – but I could see he viewed my profile and never responded. Hmph!). I’ve received 26 emails, and I’ve replied to exactly one person who I may or may not meet for coffee on Thursday. I haven’t even had one date and I’m fucking exhausted! One guy (a musician who seemed very nice but lives a geographically undesirable two hours away) told me he was taking his profile down after having been subscribed to Match for only two days. I completely understand that now. I’m ready to take mine down after just one.

My friend Kelly weighed in when I told her I was going to shake things up in my social life. As a former Match.com user, she cautioned me, “It was too much work to weed through the profiles and emails, decide to meet, and then realize the man was not someone I connected with (or vice versa). I found myself spending way too much time and energy on the sifting process because you don’t want to seem judgmental or particular, etc., but hell, that’s exactly what you are doing because you talking about entering into a personal, romantic and possibly intimate relationship with this person.”

She gave up after she met, married, and divorced her second husband – whom she met on Match. But when things got dull she went back on the site, “just to check out the competition.” In other words, she did a reverse search, looked at profiles of women in her age category, and actually emailed and then went out for drinks with someone who is now her best friend. (And, no, they are not lesbian lovers.) They discovered they had dated some of the same men (such is the size of the dating pool in Iowa) and had some good laughs about that over cosmopolitans.

But I’ve also heard – and witnessed — the success stories. My friend Bennett signed up for Match and met the man of her dreams in Portland –a successful entrepreneur, he speaks five languages, runs marathons, knows good wine, and has impeccable manners (even my mother approves of him) — and now they live in the house of MY dreams in the Columbia River Gorge. There are countless other stories of people who have found a mate.

Right now, however, I’m willing to start small. Take baby steps. I’m not looking for a mate. I just want to pretend I have some semblance of normalcy to my life. I just want to go out for dinner. At a restaurant. Would that really be asking too much?

If Match doesn’t pan out — and believe me, my expectations are about as high as Homer Simpson’s IQ — I suppose I can always sit on the park bench in front of my house and just see who shows up. Once in a while I see a man traveling solo. If one happens by and looks promising, I can loan him my pitchfork, maybe offer him a piece of pie. If he wants someone to pose with, I can offer to play the part. Which makes me wonder, maybe I should stop wearing my overalls and start wearing a dress.

Regardless, I’ve already taken the first step. I’ve decided. Bravely, boldly or terror and angst-filled, either way, I am facing the future. And making room for someone new.