I first became aware of personals ads when I was in college, way back in the B.C. era (that’s Before Computers). During breaks between classes I would pick up a tuna fish on a roll, can of Tab and a copy of the Village Voice, head over to the student center lounge and hunker down for a quick lunch before I started studying for whatever exam that I had pending that week. Problem was I rarely got any studying done. The Voice had pages of personals ads with really bizarrely fascinating things like, “Looking for companion to give me a sensual foot massage while reciting Shakespeare in a Cockney accent.” I was addicted to reading these messages, fascinated and a little scared by: “Mistress Helga wishes to spank you. Write box 666 immediately, this is an order!” Is this what life outside of a safe, sheltered suburban college campus had waiting for me? Personals seemed too scary and avant-garde for a naive Jersey girl like me.
So it was with those somewhat giddily traumatic memories that I first discovered internet dating sites. I was assured by friends, none of whom were named Helga, that personals had become mainstream and the accepted way of meeting the opposite sex – really very tame and safe. By this time in my life, I was a seasoned advertising and marketing professional and thought that if I could create ads for sneakers, face creams and tires then I could certainly create an effective ad for myself. After all I knew the product so well! I was still not totally convinced that I wasn’t going to get sucked up into some white slavery scam but, then again, I wasn’t meeting anyone at all the old-fashioned ways. So I put on my big girl pants, screwed up my courage and dove in head first.
With my photo and carefully crafted profile posted on a popular site I began to check my email daily for responses. I was relieved that no one who responded had a request that I use a foreign accent or implements of discipline. I finally got up the courage to answer an ad from a man who shall forever live in my heart as Mentor Man. He seemed down to earth and after a few emails and phone call we met at a local pub for a drink and a bite to eat.
As we talked I began to feel more and more at ease. This really wasn’t so hard! I could picture going on more dates with this guy. When the conversation turned to online dating he asked about my other experiences. Now, I could have created some wild stories for him based on my only personals experiences – The Village Voice. Of course they would have been total fabrications, born of my overactive mind imagining what happened when Sven the bi-sexual stock broker hooked up with “70 year old swinger, looking for boy/girl toy.” But, being terminally honest, I told him that this was my first internet date.
“Oh wow,” he said, “you’re a Newbie”. He then proceeded to fill me in on the ins and outs of internet dating. Most connections don’t get past the first date, the TDR (two date relationship) is hard to get past in online dating, don’t give out your home phone, give your cell and store his number on your phone so you’ll know whether or not to pick up, and on and on. It seemed a bit overwhelming but, as it turned out, it was all good advice.
Mentor Man turned out to be a “one date” connection. We got along OK, but not well enough for the TDR level. However, about a year later we reconnected through the dating site that we were both on and met again for dinner. It was fun to actually have some internet stories to share with him then. Some of them even … almost … reached Village Voice proportions.
Til Next Time (she whispered in an East Indian accent, while dancing in a pink tutu)