The Seduction of Prose

Early on in my dating adventures I connected with a man online. He had a nice looking profile picture that looked as if it had been taken professionally. It had, turns out he did stand-up comedy as a hobby. Nice, I like funny men. He also had a day job as a copywriter….and wow could he write copy. Not only was his profile write up intelligent and clever but he could punctuate a sentence and spell, skills that seems to escape many men when writing dating profiles and emails.

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I sent him a short note to say that I thought we may have some things in common, not the least of which was the importance of capitalizing the letter “I” when referring to oneself in writing. “Hemingway” wrote back and we began an email correspondence that lasted for weeks. His letters had me smitten…charmed. He could describe an average day at his office and make me feel as if I were lost in the great American novel. I was seduced by his prose, drawn in and head over heels in love with his sentence structure. I would write back, usually on my lunch hour. Agonizing over how to word each and every sentence, I’d check and edit and rewrite until my letters were as perfect as Hemingway’s seemed to me. After about a month of this I knew I had to meet him.

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We set up a date for lunch over the Thanksgiving weekend. In the days leading up to our date the emails flew even faster, filled with enchanting exchanges; even chatting of the banalities of our daily lives took on the scent of blooming passion. I knew in my reader’s soul that Hemingway was my muse, my personal author, my one and only.

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Promptly at the appointed time my doorbell rang. I opened my front door to find the neighbor’s garden gnome standing on my porch. Why wasn’t it in my neighbor’s garden where it belonged, I wondered? In the next split second I realized, to my horror, that this gnome was actually Hemingway. He was three inches shorter than he’d stated in his profile, about a foot wider and at least ten years older than his profile photo. My face fell, his face lit up…yes, he thought I was just adorable.

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I considered feigning an illness, cold, flu, gingivitis, anything. But I didn’t, he was after all an amazing writer and that for me covers a lot of flaws. So off to lunch we went. I have to admit he was as good a conversationalist as he was a writer, so the date wasn’t completely unbearable. No, what cinched the final NO decision for me was the way he stared at me. I was at a zoo once and there was a chimp that was watching the crowd with a sort of bemused stare. He was a little cross-eyed and his tongue kept poking out from the corner of his mouth, as if he wanted to lick his lips but had forgotten how. THAT’S how Hemingway was staring at me. It was a bit uncomfortable at first and, after an hour, absolutely creepy.

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Now when I connect with someone online my rule-of-thumb is “email quickly, meet swiftly”. Two, no more than three emails, a phone call and that’s it – we need to meet.

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In the swirling vortex of online dating three things are certain: an email will tell you more about a person than their profile, a phone call will tell you even more about that person, and meeting them will tell you the rest of what you need to know; and that will happen in the first five to ten minutes of said meeting. Does that sound harsh? Maybe it is. Realistically though, it’s just internet dating survival.

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Of course, I’m still a sucker for a guy who knows what a compound sentence is…and can use it.

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