Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Date abase management

Why must everyone learn things the hard way? Why can’t people just look at the critical mistakes their friends and family make and avoid these same pitfalls? Who among us will be the first to break this vicious cycle? These are some of the great unanswered and unanswerable questions that plague our society.

I just thought that Natasha was smarter than the rest of us. She’s witty, talented, driven – she has a bright future ahead of her. So why – after witnessing first-hand the trauma that defined my Internet dating experiences – why did she insist on signing up for match.com?

I feel like somehow I am to blame for this. Maybe I sugarcoated my online dating experiences too much. Maybe I sheltered her from the truth. But if I did, it was only to preserve the innocence that defines dear Natasha. I mean, didn’t I tell her about the guy who took me to the zoo and laughed maniacally as he told me about all the species of monkeys that are being poached to extinction? And then who, even more disturbingly, drank a 48-ounce bucket of Hi-C Fruit Punch in 30 seconds flat, leaving a thick red Kool-Aid mustache for all to admire?

I feel certain I must have shared these details, so where did I go wrong? What part of “red Kool-Aid mustache” did she not understand?

I guess it’s pointless to speculate, because regardless, the plan is in motion. Nat has been on match.com for only two weeks and already has five dates lined up. Fortunately, even though she chose to ignore my initial warnings about the dangers of cyber romance, she has sought my sage advice in the selection process.

In a bold move that illustrated Nat’s blind faith in my judgment, she gave me her match.com User ID and password. This was mainly a move done out of necessity since her dial-up connection is even slower than mine, and she needed me to update her profile.

Still, it’s kind of like she gave me power of attorney, so I’m taking this responsibility very seriously. I’ve found that I’m taking a much more strategic approach to furthering Nat’s social life than I did my own. To shelter her from the overwhelming flood of crazies who, for some reason, seem to be drawn to her profile, I’ve been logging into her account every few days and deleting anyone who seems slightly mentally unstable. Or who has really long hair. It’s just better this way. [Ed. note: I’m also deleting anyone I think would be better suited to me, but not before I jot down their User ID’s.]

These are some of the criteria I use to weed people out:

  • Does he say he’s looking for a best friend and soul mate to spend every minute with?
  • How many pictures of his dog did he post? Do they outnumber the pictures of himself?
  • Did he leave the marital status field blank?
  • Did he say “Go Cubbies!” more than once? (OK, that’s not to weed out crazies. Just people who would potentially annoy me.)
  • Did he actually use the word “supposably” in his profile?
So after a few weeks of screening out potential axe murderers, or just murderers of the English language, Nat and I have narrowed down our pool to a few key candidates. For ease of reference, I’ll call them:

1. Funny Guy
2. Artistic Guy
3. Sensitive Guy
4. Athletic Guy
5. Brainy Guy

So far, the only gaps I see in our strategy are Rich Guy and Foreign Guy, but I’m still looking.

This afternoon, Nat has a date with Sensitive Guy. I’m not sure how I feel about her decision to put Sensitive Guy in the starting lineup. Personally, I would have chosen Funny Guy or Athletic Guy to begin with, but I guess the girl’s got to trust her own instincts sometimes.

Nat also violated my Rule #4 of online dating by telling her date to meet her at her office before they head out to lunch. This could prove disastrous if Sensitive Guy transforms into Since Nat Won’t Return My Calls I’ll Surprise Her At Work With a Bouquet of Origami Lilies I Made After Yoga Class Guy. Because, as we all know, that guy often quickly morphs into Restraining Order Guy.

But, I can’t live Nat’s life for her. All I can do is give her roots and wings, hope for the best, and secretly manipulate as many variables as possible from behind the scenes. Like this lunch, for instance. Fortunately, Nat works fairly close to me, so I plan on taking an early lunch, buying a wig and fake goatee or perhaps a Van Dyke at Walgreen’s, and following them to the restaurant.

While incognito, I will be able to observe the date and objectively assess any abnormal behavior from either Nat or Sensitive Guy. In my disguise, I will also be able to finally solve the mystery that has haunted me for years when I stroll into the men’s room to find out once and for all what exactly these “urinal cakes” I’ve heard about really are. I mean, if anyone should be getting cake in the bathroom, it’s women.

But back to Nat, I plan on logging all my findings into a simple database I’ve developed, and after I run the data through a few quick regression models, each date will receive a weighted quantitative score. The higher the score, the higher the likelihood for future bliss. My own biggest mistake was letting emotion enter into romance – I won’t let Nat fall victim to this same error. She’s counting on me, and I’m not going to let her down!