The Dating Service
“Come on,” my friend Wanda urged. “Fill out the form and I’ll send them in. You never know. We could just meet somebody.”
So--we’d fallen to this, joining a dating service.
“How come we get to sign up for free?” Didn’t sound right to me!
Wanda ruffled the papers. “Not many women’ve signed up yet and he said if we signed up fast, he’d waive the fee.”
Tongue between my teeth, I studied the papers.Not much there, but what the heck. I wasn’t doing so good man-hunting on my own and this might just be the start of something wonderful.
“Okay. It says to describe myself. Do I say pretty? Average? Okay?”
Wanda chewed on her pen. “I’m going to say average for me.”
“Me too! Saying I’m pretty makes me feel sort of funny—like I’m vain or something.”
I checked the next box. “Okay. Am I voluptuous?” I arched my back, striking a pose.
Wanda, who was voluptuous, laughed. “I don’t think so. Say average there too.”
Okay, I marked my way down. Average. Average. Average. So I was average.
We signed our names and Wanda threw them in the mail. Within a short time, the prospective applicant referral forms arrived in the mail.
Dating Service Date No. 1: Referral form indicated he was 34 years old, a construction worker, divorced, one child, handsome. Okay. Sounds good. He called and we agreed to meet for lunch at a local Mexican restaurant.
I arrived, trepidation causing my knees to shake. What was I going to say to a perfect stranger? And would I even recognize him. He was supposed to be wearing a blue T-shirt, tall and dark blonde hair. I saw him right off. Okay-not quite what I envisioned. We introduced ourselves and I sat down.
“Do you have a problem paying for your own lunch?” he asked.
“Uh….uh, no,” I stammered. “Good idea actually. Just a friendly lunch and then we don’t owe anything to each other.”
He smiled, seeming relieved.
The waitress arrived, I placed my order. He only asked for a glass of water. Strange.
During a stilted conversation, my food and his water arrived. After the waitress left, he pulled out a sack lunch and began eating.
I glanced around the café, somewhat ill at ease.
“I’m short on money most of the time. Child support and living costs,” he explained.
So why was he trying to date? Wasn’t like I was going to pay all the time.
Lunch over – date over – referral over.
Dating Service Date No. 2: His form said handsome, 39 years old, divorced and liked to travel. Didn’t sound bad. At 32 myself, 39 was an acceptable age. He called and we agreed to meet for lunch at the same Mexican restaurant where I’d met No. 1.
He said he’d be wearing a red shirt. Now there was a red shirt, but the guy was 60 if he was a day—and handsome was stretching that word like spandex on a Suma wrestler’s butt.
He must have sensed my perusal because he caught my eye, waved me over, teeth jutting like old ivory pegs. Dragging my feet, cursing my luck, I stumbled to the table.
He pulled out a chair. “Wow,” he gushed, wiping his florid face. “I hit the jackpot with you.”
I pasted a smile on my face and sat down, thankful that I was only going to lose an hour of my life.
The waitress arrived, took our orders and left.I so wanted to go with her.
“I don’t know about you,” he snickered, trying to hold my hand. “But I don’t need to look any further. I’ve found my woman.”
My fake smile slumped, my stomach lurched.
The food arrived, I stared at my plate, wishing I was anywhere but here.
He took a bite, coughed and sputtered, spewing food. “Hot.”
Another bite. His already red face flushed purple, sweat popped out on his forehead. He grabbed for the cloth napkin, blew his nose and then wiped his face, neck and underarms with the dainty white square.
I lost what little appetite I had.
“Your application said you were 40?” I said it like a question. “You seem. . .older.”
He grimaced. “I’m 58. I was afraid if I gave my real age, all I’d get were fat old women. I’m not looking for fat old women. You’re just what I wanted.”
He wiped his neck again. I imagined I could see smears of snot sliming his exposed neckline. “When I get home, I’m calling the service and tell them to forget sending me more applications. I’m happy with you.”
Lunch seemed interminable but eventually it ended. I grabbed the bill and paid for both. No way I was going to owe this guy anything.
“I’ll call you,” he said as I ran from the room.
Date No. 2 – Over - dead.
Dating Service Date No. 3: 37. Chef in a downtown restaurant. Handsome, shy. Okay, I liked the word “shy.”
He actually picked me up and we drove to a nice restaurant. I wouldn’t have described him as handsome but looks aren’t everything.
“Why are you using a dating service,” he asked. “You’re too pretty.”
“I don’t consider myself pretty,” I said. “I’m average.”
“My daughter filled out my application,” he explained, hand brushing his bald pate. “She thinks I’m handsome and she wants me to be happy.”
“I think that’s absolutely wonderful.”
Dinner was really nice. He was considerate, a good conversationalist, and I enjoyed the meal. I actually liked this guy. So there were some decent men out there.
He drove me home and patted my hand. “You’re too pretty for me.”
“Wha…?” I was flabbergasted. Too pretty? What kind of a remark was that?
He never called back. I was sort of disappointed.
Date No. 3 – No, but I was kind of sorry.
Dating Service Date No. 4: Rugged, owns his plumbing business. Divorced. 35. Okay, the age was good—if it was true and rugged was good. Brought to mind guys like Mark Wahlberg—but I was wary.
He called and wanted to meet that night. It was a weeknight and I had my three year old son to contend with. He said no problem, bring him over and we can visit at my place for awhile. Get to know each other. Okay, sounded like a plan.
We drove to his place, my angelic three year old excited and happy about being included. We stopped in front of a reasonably nice condo. Not bad.
I knocked on the door and it flew open almost immediately.
“Come in,” he said.
It took a few moments for my eyes to adjust to the difference in light. When they did, I’m sure my mouth dropped open. Rugged? This guy said he was rugged? Heck, I could take him on a bad day. He hunched over me like a big spider waiting for the fly. I could smell the musky scent of sweaty body odor. Murky eyes glistened behind pop bottle lenses, sandy brown hair stood on end in little tufts. Sorry, but this guy was truly…creepy.
My sweet baby boy took it upon himself to go crazy. He ran to the coffee table and climbed on, jumping and screaming as he flew from the sofa to a chair, to the next chair, back on the coffee table. Threw the centerpiece to the floor (unbreakable thankfully), started stomping on the table and warbling a full throated battle cry, throwing out his little arms and generally going bananas. I watched, stupefied. What was happening? My little angel who never caused me any concern was going frickin nuts.
I grabbed him up. “Uh,” I said. “He’s never acted this way before.”
Spider man hunched over me even more, his blurry eyes widened even larger. “No problem. He isn’t hurting anything.”
“No, no, really. We have to go.” I practically ran out the door to the safety of my car.
Little guy regarded me with a large amount of concern. He knew he was in so much trouble.
I leaned over, gave him a big kiss. “I love you, sweet baby.”
He looked at me like I’d gone crazy. I bought him an ice-cream cone on the way home.
Date No. 4 – Hell no.
“Okay, Wanda, that’s it. I’m done with this stuff.”
“Why? You’ve only gone out with four?”
Yeah, but I don’t like the unexpected—and from future referrals, I didn’t think it was going to get any better. I was doing as well on my own. At least I had an idea in advance what I was getting. If the guy turned out to be a jerk, wasn’t anybody’s fault but mine.
Dating Service dates – done! (Note – I did let Wanda meet Spider Man—couldn’t let that one pass by.)