(This is part 2 of a series. If you haven't already, read part 1 first.)
"See, look," I told myself. "He's not that bad. He does volunteer work. He likes plays and art museums. He likes hiking. He likes his sister's kids. He has a cat. Perfectly decent guy."
The dog, lying at my feet, lifted her head and looked at me. "Perfectly decent guy!" I said to her. She didn't look any more convinced than I felt. Even though there wasn't anything specific I could point to in his profile, there was something about him that bugged me. A little alarm going off in the back of my head. Was that woman's intuition? Or me being a snob? A bitter, single snob?
A compromise occurred to me. I opened up a chat window and clicked on Photo Joe.
Jen: Hey, Joe. You around?
Joe: What's up?
Jen: There's this online guy that I want to check up on. Can't tell if he's crazy or not.
Joe: Do I know him?
Jen: I think your friend Theatrical Teresa might. Can you ask her?
Joe: Sure. What's his name?
Jen: Guy. He's got red hair, 6'3", glasses. Does theater, including a production of The Music Man, from the looks of the photos in his profile.
Joe: What do you want me to ask her?
Jen: Is there trouble in River City? Is he mean? Crazy? Creepy? All of the above?
Joe: Gimme a minute.
A few minutes later, the chat window chirped.
Joe: She knows him.
Jen: Excellent! Is he a total psycho?
Joe: No, she says he's a nice guy.
Jen: Oh. Damn.
Jen: I think I was kind of hoping to have an excuse to brush him off. There is something about this guy that bugs me.
Joe: Not a good sign.
Jen: Are you sure she didn't say he was crazy?
Joe: Yeah, sorry.
Jen: Hmmph. Then why do I have the feeling that I should only meet him if I have a fleet of bodyguards stationed in the coffee shop?
Joe: Sign me up.
Joe: Pick a coffee place near my house and I'll get there before your date.
Jen: I was kidding….but, you will?
Jen: And eavesdrop the whole time?
Jen: And we could have a secret signal in case I need to escape quickly?
Joe: Yes. And I'll bring my laptop and do a date play-by-play via Twitter.
Jen: LOL! Like performance art!
Joe: I'll bring the kids. We'll use them as a distraction if you need to slip out the bathroom window.
Jen: Suddenly, I can't wait to meet this guy. Does that make me a terrible person?
Joe: Probably. But that's what I like about you. How's Saturday?
Jen: Hold your horses, Skippy. I haven't even sent the guy mail yet. I'll get back to you later this week.
Since I couldn't write a form letter, I would have to put a little work into this. The secret rules say that I should:
1) Say hello.
2) Say something that indicates that I read his profile, preferably something nice.
3) Point out a common interest.
4) Ask a question that encourages him to respond.
"Hi, Guy. That's a great picture of you from The Music Man. People should really wear pinstripe suits more often. What kind of cat do you have? I love animals. --Jen"
Okay, fine. It's not going to win the National Book Award. It just needs to show some interest and give him the opportunity to respond if he's interested. It'll do.
I click Send and then go about the important business of reading stuff on the Internet. Within a couple of minutes, I hear a chime.
I flip back to the window for the online dating site. There is mail from Guy.
"Hi! Jen! It's great to hear from you. That's a great picture of you in your profile. I'm glad you like the suit. I still wear the bow tie sometimes. That picture's from a production of The Music Man I did a few years back. Great show! I say that I'm an actor, but I actually have two jobs. The acting and one to support my acting. You know how it is! I love acting. Acting is my passion in life! I wish I didn't have to have the other job, but oh well! At least I have the smell of grease paint, LOL!
My cat is so funny! He has a black mustache on a white coat, so he looks like a villain. Sometimes I call him Snidely Whiplash! I joke that he's going to tie me to the train tracks and that a fair maiden will have to save me. Bwa-ha-ha! How about you? --Guy"
How about me? How about me…what? Do I like acting? Do I have a cat? Do I laugh maniacally? The letter rubbed me the wrong way. But was it because of the excessive use of exclamation points? Or because I'm a horrible, judgmental person? With Photo Joe volunteering to safeguard my date, there really wasn't a downside to continuing. Plus, I could brag to Wolf-pack Travis about how I wasn't too proud to get a date. I ignored the nebulous but persistent alarm.
"Hi, Guy. Cats with mustaches are adorable. I saw one yesterday on I Can Has Cheezburger with a sombrero. So funny! It's great that you get to do something you love you much. Do you have a favorite musical? --Jen"
"Hello again! Jen!
I love all musicals and all plays! I especially love The Man of La Mancha. I really believe in the message, you know? When I play that part, I have to wear a wig. I used to have that photo in my profile, but some women thought I was old. But I'm not old at all! Nope! No need for erectile dysfunction drugs here! LOL! You can believe me on THAT one!..."
He wrote several other paragraphs, but my horrified eyes were stuck on the phrase, "no need for erectile dysfunction drugs here". Apparently, the rule to not tell strangers about your erections was a secret rule to this guy. Goodness gracious and damn it. I had been so looking forward to the Tweet-a-date. But if I went now, all of Photo Joe's tweets would be bad puns. ( "Jen's having a hard time with this one." "This date is falling short." "This guy is rubbing me the wrong way. If I were Jen I'd blow him off.") Damn it.
"Dear Guy. Your comment about erectile dysfunction drugs wasn't appropriate. I'm telling you so that you won't make that mistake with the next woman. Good luck."
Oh, well. I tried. I did give him a second chance. Maybe Wolf-pack Travis would still be proud of me. Now back to that important business of reading stuff on the Internet.
(To be continued.)