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Letters to the Editor

Dear Fred:

I read with great interest Fred Beauford’s latest excerpt from his novel, The African Gentleman and the Plot. It brought to mind much of what I have experienced (without the whips and chains, of course) with online dating. Here are some examples:

He Lied

Relationships have come into play in ways that surprise, delight and sometimes startle me. I am referring to the romantic variety that has woven their way into and out of my life. For a few years now I’ve planted myself on some internet dating sites.

Oh my God! I’ve developed skills, tactics, lines and innuendos that could make my children blush or declare they were orphans. I now speak “cool” and can instant message with three people faster than I ever typed at work.

My last adrenaline rush developed just after I sent a virtual “wink” to a guy who wrote in his profile that he is passionate, romantic, the best kisser in the world, loves to dance, is a gourmet cook, loves animals, has an athletic build, and is financially secure. The only thing missing from his world is the woman he will cherish for the rest of his life. He lives in a cabin in one of the most beautiful forests in California where he has access to natural hot springs. He is just an hour drive to the Pacific. ┬áVirtual love at first “wink.” OMG! My on-line fishing has caught the big one. His photo revealed that he wasn’t the best looking man I had ever seen, but hey, with a profile like that how could I not give it a shot?

A couple of months of e-mails, instant messenger, Skype and telephone communication and I had my plane ticket to paradise. I am sweet sixteen again, meeting my prince at the airport.

A rumpled, crumpled, sad lookin’ fellow waves at me as I approach baggage claim. Kissing is out of the question! Hot lips doesn’t seem to have any. Be nice, be kind, be patient, I tell myself, but what I really want is to be back home in my bed, waking up to this being a bad dream.

A two-hour drive in the rain takes us to a cabin in the woods the size of my carport. At least the woods were beautiful. When the suggestion of a respite in the hot pool came up I was elated, as the cabin was unheated and I was cold and tired from the full day of travel. 

My blissful imaginings took another dive when I discovered there were naked people getting into the pool. I was the only one in a suit. Even my host removed his bikini before jumping feet first into the hot water. Am not sure what the expression on my face revealed, but Romeo came close and said in a low tone that whatever I do, I must not stare. 

What’s this? My host had neglected to tell me that the wonderful community he’d lived in for 20 years was connected to a nudist resort.

What was going to be two weeks of romance, travel and new love became a test of how long I could be polite and plot and plan my escape. By the fourth day I was on my way to visit a son who lived in the southern part of the same state, but not until my failed liaison took another two-hour drive to a hotel where I could catch my train. I was deposited at the curb with my suitcases and hot lips sped off without even a farewell cheery wave.

I Lied

Recently back from my last prospect’s haven in the woods. I decided not to let one failed experience dampen my quest to find my next and last great romance. I signed onto three internet dating sites. It was a daunting task at first, but I was motivated. I knew that the odds of finding my prince were dwindling, but I was also of the mind that if I wrote an interesting and truthful profile, and posted some fairly recent photos I’d be on my way to being partnered and in love.

I was so convinced that this would happen that I began preparing the new me. I changed my hairstyle, got a new wardrobe and painted my toe nails electric blue. I was on my way, or so I thought. Three months passed and I had no hot prospects.

What to do? What was wrong? And then I decided it was my age. Well, I couldn’t change my age, but I could fudge a bit. A tough decision, but a necessary one if I was going to continue my search. My profile needed a rewrite. I didn’t change much. I just deducted a couple of years. I was convinced that this was absolutely necessary. If I could study and refine me, I mean my person, the physical me, then why not write me as I wanted my new partner/lover to read me?

I did it. I lied. Almost every day after that my in-box had a notice that someone wanted to connect with me. With eager anticipation I’d sign in to learn about my possible new admirer. Just look at this one! WOW! He’s handsome, but so young. Go for it girl. Not like it’s a flesh and blood real man.

A relationship would develop, and I didn’t have to cook or do laundry. I was hooked. I learned how to play the game and I got good at it. Men were writing, calling, messaging, and Skyping. I’ve had a blast and a half. A few guys came to visit, and I visited a few of them. I learned internet slang. LOL, which I thought meant “lots of love,” later became decoded to “laughing out loud.”

I should say that I was tempted to give up after this last one, but a few days went by, and I decided to get back in the race, even though I knew the odds of finding my prince were dwindling.

What I just might do if I have time between my e-mail buddies is start a group for recovering internet dating addicts. After all, who would know more about it than me!

My mouse has replaced a spouse, and sex has never been safer. I smile.

Gloria Palazzo, Lake Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico

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