I am a Single Mom. I’m not quite sure what images that label invokes, but I can tell you it lies somewhere between pity and envy. (“Oh, you poor dear…having those holidays alone, but didn’t I see you boarding a flight to the Cayman’s last weekend?”) I live in what I consider the black hole of dating…the suburbs. The suburbs consist of two swirling universes; one where everyone is married and the other where everyone is in some state of an affair. Often times these two universes collide, leaving everyone confused. I was talking to my friend, Laurie, who was dishing the dirt on a friend who is cheating on his wife. “This is horrible…doesn’t his wife know?” I said. “Oh no, it’s ok…..she’s having an affair with the next door neighbor’s husband….” As we carried on, getting our nails painted by Asian women who probably have more blackmail material than the CIA, I couldn’t help but think of how compelled we all are to find our “true love”.
It wasn’t long after that my friend, Susan, came to visit me from Tampa. “So, how’s your love life?” I love how women immediately equate the answer to this question as a means to dictate the content of the next several hours of conversation. “Non-existent”, I replied. (this is virtual nirvana to any woman about to save your life). “You’ve got to be kidding…you need to go on eharmony.com and find someone!” I looked at her with utter disgust and despair. “ME? Me filling out some questionnaire from some guy with 4 names that claims to find people their soul mates online?? YOU’VE got to be kidding!” To no avail, minutes later here I am filling out a questionnaire that took me about a day and a half to fill out, being careful not to screw up the answers as if they were somehow patterned to determine if you were really an ax murderer, revealing things about myself that only my cat knew and sending it out to that swirling universe called, “Searching”. I thought of the old radio ad…you know the one…”Hi, I’m Becky and I met my husband, Jack on eharmony.com…Hi, I’m Tiffany and I met my husband, Rocky on eharmony.com…Hi, my name is Jill and I met my husband, Jack on eharmony.com.” Did it ever occur to you that maybe Jack got two wives out of that $40 value? I can see Jack now, punching his buddies on the arm…”Yeah! Got myself two wives on eharmony.com. Is this a great country or WHAT!” Jack, we won’t answer that question.
At the very end of the questionnaire you get to set up your profile. This consists of questions that your potential soul mate will be able to read your answers to as a prelude to the “deeper you”. They ask what 3 things you can’t live without. I thought long and hard about this list and confidently answered, money, sleep, and Bounty paper towels. OK..not your average answer I would assume, but, nonetheless, honest. I can tell you that the only people who live without money are homeless or dead. And, no offense, Rocky, but not you or anyone else on the planet is walking down any aisle with any girl named Tiffany without it. Sleep, to me, is next to Godliness. I’d never last in any POW camp, for the first night of any sleep depravation I’d be spilling my guts with information I just made up. And, the Bounty paper towel thing, well, I figured my real soul mate would appreciate my tendency toward tidiness or just my sense of humor.
The final moments finally came when you are asked how far reaching you want to send your information out to…nationally, regionally, or locally. I’ve gambled this far, so I decided nationally. Click the button to submit. Click the button, dammit! You’re hanging off a cliff at this point, hoping and swearing at your friend who put you up to this at the same time. And the results are in. “We regret that there are no matches for you at this time. “ There is silence in the room. Susan looks at me and says, “Oh!”
Now, I must tell you that in a nation of a gazillion people who I look at everyday and think, how in the world did those two ever get together, this came as quite a shock to me. I mean, I have been told by those other than my immediate family and therapist that I am an attractive woman with great character, strong faith and good natural body parts, so how is it that a computer generated search engine failed to find me a suitable mate? Maybe my answers should have been, Fresh Baked Cookies, A Man to Wait on Hand and Foot, and Bounty paper towels. At the very least it should have gotten me a date with Jack!!
Dragging myself from the dooms of No Matches For You! I managed to sleep extra hard that night only to find more torture the next day when, low and behold, my email indicates that an eharmony.com match is waiting for me. It’s an odd sensation to go willingly into the unknown with great enthusiasm knowing that at any moment one thing could change your life, for better or for worse. I think they call this being a hopeless romantic or borderline insane. My match was a great looking guy who lived in Hawaii. (Do you mean to tell me that no one in the whole continental United States matched up??) He loved sunsets, walks on the beach, and honesty. No wonder I had no matches. You get to ask them a few questions and it took everything in my personal power not to ask if he played the ukulele. Upon further review, we decided that traveling over large bodies of water was not the way to start a relationship. I decided to tighten the range of potential mates to the Southeast, where I live. They sent me an auto mechanic from Birmingham and all I could think of was that he would be the only man who would appreciate my paper towel fetish. In the end, no one seemed right for this Single Mom and I think eharmony.com sent me an email and just said, “We give up.”
While there may be no real harm in eharmony, it does pull you into a world of promises that very few can bank on. Unquestionably, it is an unnerving process to find the “love of your life”. Why assign such a distinction to everyone you meet? Maybe we just look too hard. Expect too much. And why do we feel the answer lies in casting our net across the country? Whatever happened to marrying the boy next door? Is it the illusion or delusion that someone better exists out there? Sometimes they are right in front of you. Sometimes they are the ones you are actually married to. I’m convinced that my soul mate lives somewhere nearby and that one day at the Publix supermarket we’ll meet in Aisle #12…Insecticides, Foil, Bakeware, and Paper Products.