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As a woman of a certain age, my early pre-marriage (pre-historic) dating life was totally different from today’s modern dating computer and cell phone-based dating world. Sometimes, just for fun, I like to imagine life as a single dating millennial. Here’s a short, short story about “Amy,” an imaginary millennial woman seeking love in D.C. This should be read while eating a bowl of crunchy winter vegetable salad.
Amy was supremely organized. Her files at the PR firm where she worked were color coded by client and divided by task. Amy’s crowning achievement, however, related to her private life: the Word document she created on the promising men she met or was about to meet on online dating sites.
Amy had summaries of extensive Google searches on potential dates, as well as the results of photo hunts using Tineye and Google Image. She was most proud of her compilation of emails, messages, and notes from phone conversations with her prospects. This was her cheat sheet and how she remembered that Hank had two sisters and that William was highly allergic to shellfish and could not eat in seafood restaurants.
“How do you have the time or the patience to computerize your dating life?” asked Lisa, Amy’s best friend since college some 20 years ago. The two “Generation Xers” were having tall pumpkin spice lattes in honor of the approaching holiday season at the local Starbucks in D.C.’s Dupont Circle area. Amy and Lisa often compared notes on their struggles and successes with the strange world of online dating.
“Time – IS what it’s all about,” Amy replied, sounding a little annoyed at Lisa’s sarcasm. Lisa doesn’t get the logic of my approach, thought Amy. She seems to have forgotten what I’ve been through.
“I’d rather spend 20 minutes doing an image search to prove that the ‘perfect and promising GQ guy’ who emailed me stole a renowned author’s photo than to waste my time – and possibly my heart – on responding to and meeting an imposter.”
“Better to do the research upfront to dismiss the creeps, fakes, and married guys,” she added, running her fingers through her curly blonde hair. She thought back to her relationship with Martin. Martin never invited her to his apartment and preferred to communicate by e-mail rather than phoning. It was Lisa who suggested that Martin might be married. Lisa congratulated herself on learning from her mistake with Martin and other scammers and approaching dating methodically and carefully.
“I guess your way makes sense. Maybe I’m jealous because you seem to go out on more dates,” sighed brown-haired, brown-eyed Lisa.
“Speaking of which, any good prospects lately?” asked Lisa.
“No,” sighed Amy. “Just rural widowers and too-young guys looking for something casual.”
“Same here and I keep getting ‘hits’ from these fellas on the West Coast. Like I’m going to travel 2000 miles for a cappuccino first date!” exclaimed Lisa.
“Oh yeah the geographic misfits – I get a ton of those. I think my personality matches NY creative types more than it does Feds and Hill staffers,” said Amy pushing her empty coffee cup away.
The Starbucks was crowded on this cold Saturday morning: Lots of customers hanging out with their laptops and a couple of obviously uncomfortable first dates.
Amy stood up. “Can I get you another latte?” she asked her friend.
“No, I’m good,” replied Lisa. “I’m trying to cut down on caffeine and sugar.”
“Good plan…. but too virtuous for me. I’m going to get another one.”
Amy got in the 10-person order line. An attractive man with longish hair stepped up right behind her. He was wearing a well-worn leather jacket and holding a very long list. He was apparently the coffee runner for a huge gathering of friends or relatives. Annoyed at the long line, Amy decided to focus her attention on the cute guy rather than the delay in getting her coffee.
“Looks like you got stuck with the carry-out duties,” she smiled and pointed to the piece of paper he was holding.
“Yeah, my brother is getting married and we had a hell of a bachelor party last night. Now it’s payback time and I’m the designated runner to fuel this tired and hung-over group,” he winked.
“And what about you – how did you escape these morning-after effects?” she asked.
“I don’t drink to the point of being hung-over. Besides I’ve got a big deadline to meet this weekend. Gallery opening in a few days and I have to finish the last image. I’m Matt by the way.”
“Nice to meet you Matt the artist and coffee guy. I’m Amy. What’s your medium?”
“I’m a digital fantasy artist. I’ve invited a couple of editors of anime films to the opening and I’m hoping they’ll like my work and incorporate it into the advertising or even one of their films.”
“Wow – terrific. I love anime,” said Amy. “My younger sister got me hooked on it. I think Ponyo is my favorite all time anime film.”
“Ahh…you have a secret desire to be a mermaid, then?”
“Yes, in fact I am a part-time mermaid,” she grinned. “My flippers magically disappear whenever I want them to. “In my real life, however, I’m an account executive at Porter Novelli, the PR firm. I also blog about cooking and have a cartoon strip called Tip Top Chef.”
“So you are a fellow or I guess a fella artist. Well if you can keep your flippers at bay – no pun intended – and you are free this Friday evening, come by the opening at the Studio. It’s First Friday when the local galleries stay open late and host wine and cheese receptions.”
“That sounds like fun,” said Amy who was starting to feel a bit warm even though she hadn’t yet ordered her second cup of coffee. And she was pretty sure Matt was feeling some chemistry as well.
“Nice to meet you,” she added as she stepped up to the counter to place her order. After she had paid, Amy watched Matt reel off his long list with apologetic looks to the rest of the people in line. She couldn’t stop gazing at him.
As she carried her now gingerbread latte to the table, she grinned as she walked by him. Matt was just giving the last order when he glanced up and flashed Amy the biggest, warmest smile she’d ever seen on a guy who had attended a bachelor party the previous night.
“Who were you talking to?” asked Lisa. “I could see the ‘I’m interested and available’ body language you were projecting from over here!”
“A very nice, cute guy and artist who I think just invited me on a sort of pre-date at his gallery opening this Friday.
“Well I’m sure you’re going to Google him to death and will have compiled a complete dossier by the time you see him Friday– that is — if he passes your security clearance process,” exclaimed Lisa.
“Oh no! I don’t have his last name,” wailed Amy. “But then I could check out the gallery web site and find the list of artists at the event. How many Matts could there be?
Amy paused a moment. “You know what? “ she asked. “I just met this guy the old fashioned organic way. I’m not going to check him out in advance. This time, I’m going to rely on my gut and my pheromones. I’m definitely attracted to him and who knows — he could be my last non-Match.com match.”
Lisa smiled. “Atta girl. I knew you had it in you. You are an old fashioned romantic at heart after all.”
Hope you enjoyed this fiction break. Until next week, happy dating or not dating!