The Wacky World of Online Dating

Stephanie Powers

Finding a Latin man the old-fashioned way wasn't working out, so I logged on for love—and kept a journal of every juicy detalle.

DAY 1
It's Saturday night and I'm alone because all my amigas are out on dates. One of them is celebrating her one-month anniversary with a guy she met online. Hey, if it worked for her, maybe it can work for me. I look at my laptop and decide it's time.

 

I want to date a Latino, so I search for "Latino dating Web site," and voilá: I find Amigos.com. I scroll through the pictures of the guys and laugh at some of their handles (their online nicknames), like HotLatinFun and Chinitopapito. But I realize that despite the names of these sites, they're open to all ethnicities. I might as well join the site with the most members—Match.com—and just make it clear that I'm only interested in Latinos.

 

I'm shocked that Match.com costs $33 for a one-month membership. But it's either pay up or spend another Saturday night watching videos on Mun2. So I enter my credit card information and start thinking of a handle. Eventually, I settle on MarieSaysHi. Next I fill out my personality profile—ethnicity (Puerto Rican), smoking habits (no), and turn-ons ("wouldn't you like to know?"). As if that wasn't enough, now I have to write an 800-word essay about myself. Some 55 minutes later, it's the moment of truth: Do I post a picture of myself and risk my ex-novio coming across it? Finally, I decide: no photo. I hit "submit," and my profile is sent out for approval. Oye, pero that was a lot of work! I shut my laptop and get into bed.

 

DAY 2
When I check my profile page, a guy has sent me a photo of himself wearing the biggest straw sombrero ever. Under it is a little smiley face that winks. Señor Sombrero says he's a Latino in his mid-20s and a med student—¡Órale!—but divorced. Hmmm...maybe it was one of those quickie Vegas things. I click the "wink back" button.

 

DAY 3
Nothing new except an e-mail from Señor Sombrero filled with the standard questions: What do you do? Do you live in the city? It's like a first date, only I can stop talking to him whenever I feel like it.

 

DAY 4
I'm completely obsessed with checking my profile. I log on from work, home, even cafés. There's a scorecard in the upper right-hand corner that tracks how many people have clicked on my profile (30 as of today) and how many have contacted me either by wink or by e-mailing me through Match.com (so far, it's still just Señor Sombrero). I'm hurt. At least at a bar, you don't know how many guys are passing you up—on Match.com, it's all up in your face in bright-pink numbers.

 

DAY 5
I gotta step this thing up. Last night I winked at four guapitos; no one has winked back at me. And then I realize...I only wink at guys with photos. I need a photo! Screw my ex.

 

Later that day...
Aha! A photo does make a difference. One of the guys I winked at has just sent me an e-mail. He has curly brown hair and a ripped body—buenísimo! He says he's newly single. Does that mean widowed? Divorced? Girlfriend just away for the weekend?

 

DAY 6
Señor Sombrero hasn't written me back, but I'm over it because I've spent all day e-mailing with the newly soltero dominicano Joe. After a few long e-mails, I felt comfortable enough to swap personal e-mail addresses, real names and cell phone numbers.

 

DAY 7
Joe calls. For eight long minutes, we talk about our jobs and (for some reason) his lunchtime workout. At the first awkward silence, I panic and say, "Okay, gotta run now." He says, "Okay, call me whenever." Um...okay.

 

DAY 8
I'm so over this computer-flirting with cartoon faces. ¡Basta! I dial Joe's number and thank God when his voice mail picks up. I leave a message asking if he wants to meet for a drink later. He text-messages me back: "Have plans later tonight, can do right after work." No—I was going to say I had plans later tonight! He just took out an insurance policy on me—you always tell your date you've got plans later so you can bail in case of a U-G-L-Y emergency.

 

After work...
We meet outside the bar and—he's short. I'm wearing tacones and he can barely clear my 5-foot-6 frame. Inside, the hostess asks if we want dinner, and before I can answer yes, Joe snaps, "Just drinks." Qué galán...

 

An hour later...
"So I had to buy this apartment. I mean, it's got two fireplaces," he says. I smile, bored. "So," he continues, sipping a vodka tonic. "Why are you on Match?" I'm about to give him my prepared excuse—my friend made me join with her—when he interrupts, "'Cause every girl I meet says her friend made her do it." Damn!
"Nope," I say. "But you are my first Match date."
"Really? I dated the last girl I met on Match for a year. She's actually dating my best friend now."
We start laughing, swapping love horror stories, having a great time—then I catch him peeking at his watch. I grab the passing waitress. "Can we get the check?"
He says, "This was nice. I'll call you sometime next week." Liar.

 

DAY 9
Señor Sombrero sent me an e-mail. He claims he lost my address. Just as I start to write back, I realize that doesn't make any sense. You can always e-mail a person through their Match.com profile page. Delete.

 

DAY 10
Okay, Joe isn't a liar. He called and wants to meet up again. But I don't. There are things you just can't get online. I knew Joe was Latino, Catholic and a nonsmoker—but those are just facts, not feelings. A profile can't replace that initial attraction between two people, that first physical spark. It's that kind of connection that makes me want to go out on a date. Not his job, religion or favorite movie. This weekend, I think I'll hit a club and see who winks at me for real.

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