Clive was a dyed in the wool true believer that online dating–the websites (both free and paid) and the process—stunk to high heaven. Not because a great deal of the time was spent sifting through miles of unimaginative profiles that featured photos of celebrities that in no way resembled the actual embittered people who recited a Don’t List of all the things they simply would not stand for in a partner or relationship—well, not mainly for that reason—but merely because he was forced to write a self-summary, also know as his personal kryptonite.
His experiment nearly ended right there.
Primary among the things he hated, in addition to being questioned about any personal information that he would never voluntarily offer up in conversation, was attaching descriptors to himself and/or writing a self-summary. The notion of having to explain the equation of his essence, his being, in order for a stranger to do a quick assessment and chuck him into a labeled box, was enough to make him retch. Not to mention the fact he considered himself boring as hell and had nothing interesting to fill a questionnaire out with if he were keeping it 100, as the young-uns said.
But needs must when the devil drives, so he picked himself up by the bootstraps and scratched his puzzler on the best way to go about creating a self-summary without laying out all his information upfront—like he was actually going to tell a bunch of judgmental strangers anything important about himself, please. Clive was determined to try and reintroduce the notion of courtship back into the dating world and planned to use the interweb to hone his slightly rusty—okay, severely rusty—wooing abilities. One wouldn’t need to be Ellery Queen to suss out the inherent flaws in that plan.
The workaround came fairly quickly and was a no-brainer. Clive was going to summarize himself in short story form, as a sort of coming attraction to ward off them what cain’t be bothered with a bit of good old-fashioned storytelling. This was the result:
One day an old woman stepped directly into my path on the street, stopping me cold, and asked, “Who are you?”
“Pardon?” I was taken aback by the suddenness of the question.
“If you had to describe yourself to me, an absolute stranger, what would you say?” she thwarted my attempt to sidestep her.
“Most likely…nothing,” I admitted. “Since I’m not too fond of the question.”
“Well, what if Nazis held guns to your parents’ heads? What would you tell me then?” she smiled.
Damn. The Nazi ploy.
I hated being manipulated like this, but I couldn’t have anyone, not even this old woman, think that I’m some heartless brute that would allow Nazis to murder my parents in an effort to avoid providing a self-summary.
“And don’t hand me any of that work in progress nonsense, because we’re all works in progress until we give up living.”
“Fair enough.” I nodded in agreement, for it was one of those overused expressions that I can’t stand, just like thinking outside the box.
“Who I am is a born-again optimist. What I believe is that love should not be denied to anyone, even to those born with icy hearts. What I know is that I’m wise enough accept love as it finds me and not reject it because it doesn’t come wrapped in a pretty package. What I hope is that someday every lonely person will reach out to another lonely person and befriend them so that the word lonely fades from our lexicon.”
“Corny and clumsily poetic…” she eyed me for a long moment. “…but an artful dodge, so I’ll let you get away with it… this time.”
This time? Just who did this woman think she was?
“If you had to write a summary about yourself, would anyone read it?”
I shook my head. “Probably not.”
The old woman cocked her head to the side, “Why not?”
“Because I’m old-fashioned.”
“What does that have to do with anything?” she asked.
“Simply that I wouldn’t reveal too much. Instead of handing someone Cliff Notes about me, I’d prefer to let that information come out naturally during the course of a one-on-one conversation with the person I was interested in. I don’t think that my life and personality can be compressed into a resume.”
“Is that a fact?” she said more to herself than anything else. “So, what are you doing with your life? Living it…is not an acceptable answer.” She tapped her foot impatiently.
What a surprise. Another question I hated, for how do you sum up passion, goals and interest in a sentence? A paragraph? It needs to be discussed in casual give and take conversation, which I knew would not happen here, so I answered:
“I’m in a creation stage of my life, at the moment. The need to create things is strong in me and I do that utilizing art, writing, sculpture and filmmaking. Some of my work has been published, which has brought me some attention but not anything close to notoriety.”
“Very good…” the old woman said, pleasantly surprised. “I didn’t have to pull teeth that time.”
“And my final question for you today is… what are you good at? I mean, really good at?” the annoyance seemed to melt away from her face, which put me at ease a bit.
“Hmmm…” I scratched my puzzler at that one. “If I had to give you one thing, I suppose it would be my ability to suss out how things work. Not machines and the like, but other things, intangible things… and people, as well. Except for you, that is. You’re a complete mystery to me.”
The corners of the old woman’s mouth curved up into a slight smile, as she nodded “Thank you.” and left as suddenly as she appeared, leaving me perplexed as to what just transpired here.
And with the self-summary written, all that was left was to join a bunch of free online dating sites—who’d pay, I mean, really—and cast his line into the water. But Clive hadn’t wanted to be aggressive about it, so the only two restrictions he imposed on himself were:
- He wouldn’t be the first person to initiate contact.
- He wouldn’t submit himself to a dating questionnaire when a woman was trying to gather more intel on him. Why make it easy for her to dismiss him based on whether or not he looked good to her on paper without even the courtesy of a flesh meet?
He also had to ask himself an honest question, Was he doing this to find an actual companion, an activity partner—young’uns would only understand this when they were older—or was he just out to get laid?
To anyone reading this, the initial obvious answer was to get laid, Clive just knew it, and he couldn’t blame anyone. When one cleaved through all the bullshit that men did and subjected themselves to, 9.75 times out of 10 sex was the reason, the answer, and the end goal. And okay, maybe that factored in a little bit, but mainly it was to find a companion.
But how could Clive attract the attention of women without contacting them or putting his statistics on display? Naturally, he knew the answer was to blog, but keeping a running online journal of his daily life—wake up, work, watch movies, procrastinate, troll the internet, sleep, repeat—would’ve bored anyone to tears.
No, he’d be forced to resort to the only thing he’d ever been good at in his entire life…
To be continued…