Wednesday, October 17, 2007

"Best Of" Volume II: Really Frightening: What could be scarier than reality?

Just in time for Halloween, a little ditty from the pre "Suite-Mangum" days. . . when I was running solo in this dreary world. A few years ago, I did this little piece on the horrors of life as a singleton for my Saint George Mag column (October 2005).

And while I am EVER so gratful I don't have to deal with the challenges of dating anymore, I don't want my single friends out there in cyberspace and beyond to ever think I have forgotten the plight of a single gal (or guy) putting it out on the line day in and day out. . .

Just know, I've been there. . . so without further ado, I give you, THE HORRORS OF MY (former) ONLINE DATING LIFE. . .

I think it’s fair to make a case for being afraid of things that are supposed to scare you. I cut myself a little slack with the standards – heights, clowns, swimsuit shopping in February. I’ve never been one for scary movies (Disney’s Watcher in the Woods is about where I draw the line), and I absolutely loathe haunted houses and forests. All through my adolescence, my friends would try to explain that because the people responsible for “scaring” us were actually just teenagers like ourselves, if I just gave them a hard time or acted like they didn’t affect me, I wouldn’t have a problem.

But there was a problem. I was afraid, very afraid. For some reason, my body cannot make a psychological distinction between fact and fiction, and thus the physiological response follows – panic stricken conscience, sweaty palms, short breaths and a pit in my stomach resembling a black infinite abyss.

So for those of you celebrating the Autumnal Equinox and Hallow’s Eve with visits to these types of dastardly places, I’m just saying I’m glad it’s you and not me. I have plenty to fear without Jason/Freddy chasing me with a chainsaw or some equally threatening yard appliance. Besides, just being alive is scary enough. Andy Warhol once said, “Being born is like being kidnapped. And then sold into slavery.” I can relate just from being set up on blind dates.

Let’s be honest, the predicament of the single life is more than a conundrum. It’s a fearful angst-ridden place to be. How else do you explain the hoards of relatives, associates, colleagues and random acquaintances shell shocked and horrified to discover you’re over 25 and (gasp!) not married?

It hadn’t occurred to me that my singleton status should be cause for such terror until I ventured into the frightening world of online dating. Some have heard my diatribe about the woes of a text messaging courtship – believe me it can lead to more than cyber tears – but I thought romance on the information superhighway would be a safe place where I’d meet a plethora of liberal minded scholars with character like George Washington and a penchant for world religions, Led Zeppelin and The O.C. (not necessarily in that order).

“Sabrena, you should try,” a former college boyfriend explained to me over a year ago. “It will really help you see what type of person you’re compatible with.” Ah, so that’s my problem, I thought. I just haven’t understood what type of person I’m truly compatible with. I thought my quest for an independently wealthy artist with Death Cab for Cutie on his iPod that shares my dislike for Fox News was a great place to start.

While the questionnaire for the eHarmony personal profile doesn’t ask how annoying you think Bill O’Riley is, questions do run the gamut from religion and politics to the importance of sexual relations in a (ahem) relationship. The site also instructs you to be as honest as possible. . .And so I was, even against my better judgment.

The final question of the survey asks about geographical logistics. I mean really, just how far was I willing to search for true love? Well, St. George and Salt Lake City were obvious choices. Plus, my day job does allow me to travel pretty easily, so it seemed that the West Coast was a natural fit. But why limit myself to just a couple of time zones, right?

It was like I had some sort of tick, checking the radar buttons. By the time I clicked “Submit,” I had included all of the U.S., part of Canada, plus the UK and most of Western Europe. Where’s the harm? I thought. At best, I’ll find my true love. At worst, I’ll get some really great pen pals from across the globe.

The anticipation was killing me. How many responses would I get? Twenty, thirty? Would there literally be hundreds of “matches” since I was open to whatever the universe had to present me and my social life? I was willing to take a risk. I began to imagine the Webmaster for Yahoo! emailing to tell me I’d need to purchase more space as my inbox would be constantly overloaded with requests from beaus across the world. Where would I find the time to court so many men? The anticipation was really overwhelming.

And as I sat there imagining my results, I realized that the database had been searching for quite some time. What if I set some record for “most compatible female on the Internet”? I mean, I’ve always thought of myself as pretty amicable. Maybe I’d be crowned Miss eHarmony or perhaps they’d make me something like the official mascot. Wow – how long would this thing search? It’s not like I was on an AOL dial-up connection or something.

And then it came, the answer to the question that would be the closest gauge of my dating reality, indeed one of the scariest moments in my 28 years of existence. Out of a database with literally thousands of names, came this message: “eHarmony has found 0 matches.” Zero matches for moi! I stared at the screen absolutely dumbfounded and then laughed from so deep in my gut that I think it was heard across cyberspace.

So, yes I am afraid, very afraid. But come to think of it, right now a haunted house might be the perfect thing to ease my nerves.