“Lynn from Sherman Oaks, meet Jay from Long Beach.” That’s how the introductory email from eHarmony began.
Surely they must be kidding, I thought. This is Los Angeles, where a man from Santa Monica turned me down for a first date because, as he put it, “It’s just too difficult to come over the hill.” Then there was another potential suitor who told me, “You just made the 15-minute cutoff,” meaning the time it would take for him to get from his place in Encino to my place in Sherman Oaks.
I had been surfing internet dating sites for some time and was about ready to give up. I had admitted to being over 60 and posted a reasonably attractive full-body photo. The description of my interests was honest if somewhat nerdy (not athletic, not religious, enjoy reading, classical music, serious plays and documentaries). I was forthright about my advanced degrees, my dislike of shopping and my left-leaning politics.
And the dating sites did come up with some remarkable matches.
There was the man who was seeing a psychiatrist several times a week. He thought that because I was a psychologist, I could accept his numerous fears and phobias — unlike his former wife and girlfriends. There was also the man whose life’s ambition was to visit every baseball field in the country. Period.
There was a man who was still married and another who had severe mobility problems, although neither of those important facts were mentioned in their profiles.
There was the orthopedist who parked in the handicap space because “my knees give me a bad time on the ski slopes,” and the man who accepted my offer to pay my share of a $10 lunch. Perhaps the strangest match of all was the man who told me, within 20 minutes of our meeting each other for the very first time, “I don’t need Viagra or Cialis.”
However, most of the men I met through the internet were just ordinary people. They were looking, as was I, for someone with compatible interests and lifestyle, someone to share the joys and sorrows of life. We all seemed to have the same goal in mind: to find someone to talk with, to take to a movie, to take for a walk and, yes, eventually to take to bed.
Somehow, I was missing the mark. The men I was meeting were dull and boring. They were absorbed with their stock investments or focused on what they ate for breakfast, or they were doting on their grandchildren. They had no sympathy for poor or oppressed people and described Native Americans with horribly racist epithets.
Some had been divorced, as I had been many years before. Some had been widowed, as I had been, except that in my case, I had been widowed twice. So, after a year of too many uninteresting and disappointing internet dates, I was ready to go it alone, at least for a while.
And then there was “Jay from Long Beach.”
I just couldn’t imagine what I would have in common with “Jay from Long Beach,” an electrical engineer whose bio read: “I travel an hour each way to my full-time job, spend my weekends flying model planes and playing with my dogs.” The picture he posted was a head shot with a blue-green nose. I later found out that the photo had been taken on a canoe trip, which accounted for the extra-thick application of sunscreen. But most importantly, I wondered, who in L.A. would drive 40 miles, at least an hour, for a date, especially a date with someone who had buried two husbands?
We started with emails, long emails, and then progressed to phone calls, long phone calls. We talked about everything and anything, about politics, religion, history, philosophy. We talked about science, literature and music. We talked late at night and early in the morning about our lives, our aspirations and our worldviews.
Finally, there was the first date. Given my recent experiences, I wasn’t expecting much. It was a Sunday afternoon in early November. I suggested that we meet on the patio of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. This would be a very public place, as all internet dating sites strongly recommend, especially for women.
Over coffee, we talked and talked until we were both hungry. After a quick meal in the museum cafe, it was getting cold and almost dusk. I said, “We should head out to our respective corners of Los Angeles.”
“Oh,” said Jay, looking rather surprised, “but we haven’t seen the museum yet.”
What I thought was going to be a coffee date, he thought was going to be a museum date. So we toured a few museum galleries and, on the way out, noticed that a string quartet would be performing shortly in the museum’s auditorium. We quickly agreed to take in the concert, especially because it was free. The concert ended at 7 p.m., and we were both hungry again. Marie Callender’s was just a short walk up the street, so we headed there.
By the time we finished dinner, Jay walked me several blocks to my car, and then I drove him back to his car. It was after 10 p.m.
What was supposed to be a coffee date (or a museum date, if you believe Jay’s version) turned out to be a full-day and evening date and the beginning of a wonderfully compatible and fulfilling relationship that has spanned more than a decade.
We are now married and parents of a darling miniature schnauzer, whom we named Harmony, in honor of the eHarmony website that brought us together. “Jay from Long Beach” is now “Jay and Lynn from Sherman Oaks.”
The author is a retired clinical psychologist, perennial student and social justice activist. She lives in Sherman Oaks with her husband, Jay, her son, Ken, and several furry pets.
L.A. Affairs chronicles the search for romantic love in all its glorious expressions in the L.A. area, and we want to hear your true story. We pay $300 for a published essay. Email [email protected]. You can find submission guidelines here. You can find past columns here.
Source: LA Times