Setlla Dixon’s take on romance at the shore – where the odds are good, but the goods are seriously odd.
A good story is important to me. When I was a little girl, I thought I might lock eyes with the man of my dreams across the passion fruit display at the grocery market (“Passion from the very beginning!”). Better yet, my overzealous serve might put a tennis ball through the windshield of his new pick-up truck. (“And that, dear friends, is why we’ll be having a tennis-themed wedding!”). Never, in all my Disney-induced dreams, did I foresee a cyber-space romance. Love at first sight? Maybe. Love at first click? Definitely not.
Nevertheless, an eHarmony commercial can look appealing during a crisp Cape May fall. There are few men – young, straight, available ones – here to begin with. Those who stick around through the off-season are often content blowing unemployment checks on beer pong. At a recent party (on a Tuesday night, no less), I watched the loser of a tequila-chugging contest squirt lime juice into his own eye, while men on the other side of the room launched a hacky-sack at each other’s crotches. On the couch with the puppy I’d rescued from the chugging contest, I commiserated over our shared geographic misfortune and the time I’d wasted shaving my legs – 29 dimensions of compatibility, and I end up with the dog.
In the throes of a quarter-life crisis, I created a profile on Plenty of Fish, a dating website that’s free of charge (which only means a higher concentration of couch potatoes). I checked boxes reading strongly agree, somewhat agree, and totally disagree next to statements like: I enjoy being the life of the party, and I sure am an adventurous eater. The next day, I had messages from FranktheTank and JerzyHomeboy. Goodguy36 asked to meet me, but only if I could swear my allegiance to the Philadelphia Eagles. Perfect4U asked what kind of salsa I like. I received two electronic roses, three requests for an “intimate encounter,” and only one promising e-mail. The note was from Jeremy2, a six-foot tall gentleman, according to his profile, who enjoys writing and coaching little league. Reluctantly, I agreed to a date.
Unfortunately, the bachelor’s degree Jeremy2 had during mini-golf became an associate’s on the boardwalk. He was 27 on the Ferris wheel, and a year older on the log flume. Even his dog, who was Zoe at the ice cream shop, became Chloe on the ride home. I deactivated my Plenty of Fish account and told Jeremy2 not to call me again.
I do know people who’ve found healthy relationships online, and that’s wonderful. But I am no digital damsel in distress, at least not yet. There are plenty of fish in the sea, but there’s nothing wrong with swimming alone. I’m holding out for that tennis-ball-through-the-windshield thing anyway.