Looking for love in online places
by Kelvin Wade
My friend Madge Stein Woods has signed up for multiple online dating services and is blogging her results. I’ve never joined an online dating service (that is if you don’t count my buddy Chumly enrolling me in a gay dating site years ago.) But I do have some experience with online romance.
It was December 1996. I was online via one of those then-ubiquitous free trial AOL disks. I’d done the chat room thing. Talked with a lot of people in IMs. What I really wanted to do is connect with someone real. Develop a real friend online. So I typed in some characteristics I liked in a profile search and stumbled upon a woman who went by the screen name AsoftKiss.
I lived in Fairfield, California and she lived about an hour away in Orangevale. She was quite a bit older than me but I chose that deliberately. I had a thing for older women, having dated a 34 year old when I was 17.
I wrote her a lengthy email and she responded quickly. We started chatting for a few days online and it wasn’t long before we started talking on the phone. It was platonic. After all, she was in a relationship with a man she suspected was married. I was on the downside of a five-year long distance relationship with a woman who lived in Colorado who I’d fly out periodically.
Sometime in early March 1997, Kiss suggested we meet at Marie Callendar’s in Fairfield. I agreed. As the day neared, I grew nervous. My second thoughts turned into real doubts. I’d already had some questionable experiences online. So at the last minute, and I mean the last minute, I called her and left a message on her answering machine that I couldn’t make it.
The problem was she’d already left for the restaurant. And she went there, sat down and waited. And waited. I was a no-show.
I was so ashamed of chickening out that I deleted that AOL profile completely. She couldn’t call me because I had her number. She didn’t have mine.
It would’ve ended right there if I didn’t feel so bad about what I’d done, coupled with the fact that she was genuinely interesting. We just clicked. So I made a new profile similar to my old one a couple weeks later and popped in and out of a chat room she was in.
She immediately IMed me and ripped me a new one. I remember she called me a “shithead.” The rest I’ve blocked out. I was incensed that she was talking to me this way but… I deserved it. I was all set to never chat with her again when she softened and IMed me the next day.
We started chatting again. I gave her my phone number and we started talking on the phone more. She’d just ended a relationship with that unreliable man she suspected of being married. I’d just ended that long distance relationship with a woman I was sure was one of the Devil’s favorite demons. While Kiss and my phone conversations were flirty, there was no way I wanted to rush into another relationship.
She suggested we try meeting again. So we arranged to meet at J.J. North’s Grand Buffet. Only I would choose a buffet as a meeting place. But like I said, I wasn’t looking to get involved. I was two weeks removed from my last girlfriend.
On the appointed day, April 17, 1997, I was standing in front of the restaurant when she came walking up in blue dress with white polka dots. She sauntered up in sunglasses with a big smile looking like a movie star and she kissed me. And as soon as we kissed, the tectonic plates of my heart shifted.
She knew I collected hippos, so she brought me a bag full of them. I gave her a stuffed hippo. We walked into the restaurant hand in hand and walked out four or five hours later. In the parking lot by her car we kissed and embraced. And after making sure she was safely headed home, I headed over to my oldest brother’s house to tell him that I thought I’d met the one.
It was only days later, after two more visits, that Kiss sent me an IM saying, “I think I’m falling in love with you…”
This past week, Cathi/Kiss and I celebrated our 15th anniversary and I still fall further for her every day!
I’m a firm believer that people can find love online. But I also think that the most likely time for us to find it is when we’re not even looking for or expecting it.