I was 58 when I began the search.
Old enough to know there is no Mr. Right.
Romantic enough to think I’d find Mr. Almost Right.
Protective friends warned not to expect much.
All of the good ones are already taken. Don’t be so choosy. You’ll never find exactly what you’re looking for. Look for someone younger. Look for someone older.
Well-meaning. Lots of code words. Loads of negativity.
I was not going to settle. I wanted a guy my own age. I wasn’t looking for a business partner, a broken wing or meal ticket. I was looking for love. The kind I’d already had. The kind I knew existed.
It was just a game of numbers. The more dates, the more chance of finding Mr. Almost Right.
I was too old for bar-hopping. Gym-bunnies were an alien race to me. My friends had not produced even one productive blind date.
So with some trepidation, I posted the best possible photo and personality profile onto three Internet dating sites and waited.
And voila! In short order I met many men.
Men who lied about their age. Men who wanted to control me or be controlled by me. Men who couldn’t get it up or keep it down. Men who had never been in a serious relationship or had been in too many. Men who threatened physical harm if I stopped seeing them. Men who were conflicted Priests and Pastors.
It turns out there is no shortage of men. Finding a good one – the almost right one – is the exhausting problem.
Eighteen months, more than 30 guys and 100 dates later I was ready to give up dating altogether.
Then Thom arrived on the Golden Chariot of OKCupid.
OKCupid is a site that pits your answers to life’s important questions against responses from thousands of potential partners. According to their metrics, Thom and I were 95% compatible.
As a bonus, we were the same age. And we were both Jewish. After being with a non-Jew for thirty five years, this felt dangerously exciting.
I trolled through his responses to see if I could detect a creepiness factor. On the assumption that you believe what is written, the Internet allows you to do an arms-distance check under the psychological floor boards of your potential date’s house for random body parts.
Thom passed with flying colors. After a brief email introduction, we had our first phone call.
Awkward. And having not dated in 35 years – invasive.
The first call is a clumsy attempt to determine how much baggage the other person is carrying. You ask probing questions. You listen for telltale clues about their past. You hope they don’t live with their mother. Or talk about their mother. Or say that she’s their best friend. (Unless the mother is either Glenn Close or Judy Dench, of course).
You try to tease out the number of gay scout badges they’ve collected. Points go to art gallery openings attended, number of times they’ve seen Magic Mike, number of musicals seen in London prior to opening on Broadway. The important things.
One doesn’t want to date someone simple.
In my opinion the first conversation with Thom was absolutely crackling. For him, not so much. It generated only one syllable text evaluation: “Nice.”
I scratched my head over that one. Strong silent type?
The second call dug deeper. We talked politics, art, fashion, design, travel, movies, music, and a frothing debate on the eternal gay dilemma: cashmere or linen.
His second text evaluation? “Very nice”.
The third call was a souls-bared deep dive into philosophy, career achievements, relationship disappointments, retirement aspirations. We pawed over each other’s psychological merchandise like we were at Bloomingdales searching for the perfect Armani dinner jacket.
His goodnight text: “Still nice”.
His Internet plan must charge by the word.
I was beginning to sense that Thom could be Mr. Almost Right. It felt comfortable. Soul-mate comfortable. The only downside that could hamper its development? We lived 500 miles apart. Long-distance dating didn’t feel satisfying to me.
But we persevered.
A week prior to our actual first date, I was in Portland for a business meeting. By then we’d spent over 100 hours on the phone. At the end of our good morning call he said: “I’ve only seen head shots of you, Bobby. Text me a jpeg of your entire body”.
I assumed he meant dressed.
I experimented with different poses in my hotel room. Splayed out on the sofa, sitting on the bed legs-crossed, standing at the window with a casual smile, then a wide smile, followed by a narrow smile, showing teeth, not showing teeth.
It was a mess.
Finally, I dimmed the lights, stood a few feet from the mirror and took a full body selfie.
Some unfortunate cropping occurred when I clicked send. What Thom actually saw on his end was a photo of me from the knees down.
Within 30 seconds his reply popped into my inbox.
“SHOW ME THE MIDDLE!“
Fortunately, there is nothing wrong with my middle.
I couldn’t wait to meet him.