Several years ago, sixteen to be precise, I was encouraged to start internet dating, by my chiropracter of all people. Baffled as to why I was still single at the grand old age of 34, he was determined to heal my broken heart as well as my self inflicted, broken body. I turned up one day, expecting to be cracked and crunched as usual, but no, he had other plans, already logged in, he was waiting to upload my profile with me. I relented and there followed the most hilarious collection of dates known in the history of often hilarious, occasisonally horrific, internet dating stories. I was ahead of the game, I should have written about them then before books on such things became de rigeur, however, I satisfied myself with entertaining friends, more successfully than I would have liked.
I’ve had so many more disasters since then, that many of this original bunch escape my memory but there are three that remain firmly lodged, if relegated, to the darkest recesses of my brain. There was the XXX guy (as in triple X rated) the stories of which are shared with very few, a few more if wine is involved. He stayed around a while, long enough to serve me with the opportunity for me to discover an awful lot about myself that I would never otherwise never have been brave enough to consider. There’s that to be thankful for (I think) well that and the fact that it provided lots of vicarious living amongst my closest (attached) girlfriends, but he soon ventured on, perhaps I wasn’t quite adventuorus enough? Then there was the guy who was, after two traumatic years which should have been nipped in the bud on date two, outed in the Daily Mail. I managed to keep my name out of the papers, he is still googleable 14 years later. The third and least offensive, ended up being the inspiration, if that be the right word, for the character we love to hate in my novel, Escape to India, portrayed pretty accurately, as it transpires.
Oh, go on then, I’ll make it four, there was the guy who had a picture in his wallet of him sleeping in a stable with his horse who was the same guy who took his false teeth out and put them on the bar in order to prove to me that he had been an American Football player. After that, I decided to call it a day. I was moving onto pastures new, India to be precise and dating was the last thing on my mind. Sigh, if only I’d stuck steadfastly to that decision.
It was therefore, with much trepidation, that, 14 years later, back in Yorkshire sitting out the Covid Crisis and somewhat bored, I agreed to give it one more shot. I was somewhat reassured by the current situation, Covid does at least provide a valid reason for not actually wanting to meet up, and surely, so many years down the line, things must have improved? So, Friday saw me upload a small collection of images portraying myself in various moods, and answer a bunch of relevant questions hopefully in an interesting and entertaining fashion so as to attract the right ‘sort.’ I had put in my preferences, male aged 45-55, over a certain height and within a certain geographical area, I’m certainly not convinced that spending excessive money on petrol is a wise investment at this cynical stage of my life. After a reasonably long and considered pause, which may have involved another glass of wine and messages from friends who had found much amusement first time around, I finally pressed ‘upload.’ Then there was nothing left to do but sit back and wait for Jamie Fox or Jason Patrick look-a-likes to start winking at me and sending me messages as quickly as their digits could fly over their keyboard.
A few hours later, I logged on to see who the algorithms thought I may be a suitable match for and took a screen shot of the first four to send to the 5 aforementioned friends. In under 3 mintutes, 4 out of 5 had replied with exactly the same response, “Are these all characters from the latest Spitting Image series?’ It was not the start I was hoping for; one mass murderer, one Jimmy Saville look-a-like, one toothless wonder with an apparent drug problem and one, I am sure very sweet chap, aged 77. These, I felt were easy enough to disregard without being accused of being too picky.
I continued to search, they couldn’t all be so unsuitable, there had to be the male equivalent of me on there. A short while later, I realised that my levels of discerning, may indeed be confused with being a tad too picky, thick gold
chains proved to be a no no, as did an abundance of tatoos and football shirts as daily attire were just three out of many reasons all of which encouraged me to hit delete. Why oh why did I embark on this? Surely I was happy with my part time dog? Which got me thinking, Miss Maisie is as cute as cute can be. That being said, she is the dog that the expression, ‘dog breath,’ was invented for, she has shocking table manners, she is demanding, following me from room to room, even chair to chair, she wants to go out when I don’t, doesn’t want to when I do, and when we do, happily flirts with anyone and everyone we meet. Yet, I love her. Why am I so unforgiving when it comes to men that I won’t consider the slightest misdemeanour such as obnoxious jewelry or a football shirt?
Having chastised myself I determined to stop being so picky and soldier on. Happily, the winks had started. I took a deep breathe and clicked on my first profile. It had a main profile photo which appealed, a person of colour, in great physical shape (which put me with my Covid sofa arse to shame), in the right age bracket and of a geographical location not on the doorstep, but not too far for me to worry about petrol consumption. I decided to delve further, see what questions he had answered, what wit, intelligence and repartee was showcased in his profile which would appeal to my sensibilities – and also to take a sneaky peak at any other photo’s he may have uploaded to attract the ideal mate. We all know that the first photo is or should be the best (spitting image characters aside.)
It was therefore somewhat surprising to discover that in his other photos he was white, not only white, but the sort of white that would indicate he rarely ventures outdoors! Now, I can understand certain people not uploading their own photographs, the Headmaster I dated for example, though given that he was also a complete philanderer was an additional reason for him not to; but to perform a modern-day Michael Jackson on a dating profile leaves me completely baffled. Why? It certainly isn’t like he isn’t going to get caught out. Which leaves me in a dilemma. Am I intrigued enough to bother to find out, or is this less than positive start enough to make me hit delete on my profile and take my chances down the local pub, social distancing permitting of course?
PS: My book is available online: Escape to India – a fun read, think Bridget Jones in the jungles of central India!