From Russia With Love
Loneliness can be exploited, as some lonely hearts in the United States have found out. The Web site of the U.S. embassy in Moscow has some good advice for Americans who think they've met their online match in Russia, and run into trouble. From the Q&A page, here are two of the issues that can crop up in such intercontinental romances.
The individual I'm writing to says that s/he needs $1,000.00 to show for "pocket money" or the airline won't let him/her board the plane. Is this true?
(The Embassy responds that this minx from Minsk isn't required to "show" one cent to travel.)
I think I have been scammed. I have sent this individual $2,000.00 and now I find out his/her visa is a fake. How do I get my money back?
("Tough ****," the Embassy replies, in effect.)
You People Are All Alike
For some longtime Internet daters, the names, facts, faces, and interests of responders to their profiles begin to run together. And the limited creativity of many dating-site members doesn't help matters. "John" from Chicago posted this "Open Letter to Match.com Girls":
And the same is true of the men. From Jayne Hitchcock: "I started to whittle the list down by deleting those with eyebrow-raising or just plain sad screen names, such as variations on 'loverboy,' 'mr. romantic,' 'lonely guy,' 'lonely one,' 'kiss me,' 'true love MD,' 'huggy bear,' 'party man,' 'sexy upndown,' etc.--I am not making these up--and subject lines such as 'Hi Beautiful,' 'Wow!' 'Hi Baby Pretty,' 'Hey there, cutie,' and 'Me wink; you reply.'"
The Onion's Online Dating Tips offer this suggestion: Set yourself apart by choosing a descriptive user name like SocialRetard342, CuteFaceFatAss, or RohypnolLarry.
"Sarah" from New York also boiled down her online dates to a few distinct types. Here's one from her Craigslist post:
Buddy, You're Better Off Without Her
I am 40 to 50 pounds overweight, but I was honest about it. This man was 5-feet-9 and weighed in probably about 300 pounds. But okay, my idea of a bit [overweight] and his idea of a bit may vary. So I wave at him and over he comes. I felt bad that I had sat outside, because even though it was a mild day and there was an umbrella, he was soon sweating like a donkey. And the charm, wit, and humor he had on the phone was ... gone.
He mumbled and fidgeted, but kept looking at me like I was a glass of water and he was on the tail end of a long walk through the desert. So I did it. I am so ashamed of myself, but in retrospect, what else could I do? I was sure every other blind date had coldly dumped him. And I knew he was a nice guy, just not the guy for me. I deliberately set out to gross him out. I started to laugh too loud at the unfunny things he said. And then, and I can barely type this, I actually put my hand in my armpit, pulled it out, and sniffed it.
What about me? Here's my own (actually my only) interesting online dating experience. I was in school. In a new city, Chicago, lonely, and very cold. Her name was Bonnie, and her picture on Nerve.com looked cute, even dainty. After a few chatty e-mail notes, we set up a meeting at a yuppie beer joint in Lincoln Park. I arrived first, sat at the bar, and ordered a beer. Those moments before your date shows up are priceless--my mind started racing a little, I could almost hear a low drum roll. And there she was--she walked in, sat down, ordered a beer. The tattoo on her neck wasn't visible in her online picture. She looked a little rough around the edges, Bonnie did. Tough, actually. She was about my height or a little taller, and she was built--and I don't mean built in a girly way, I mean she looked like she could bench press about twice my weight.
She ordered another beer. And another, and another. Her cool, detached attitude soon turned boisterous and aggressive. She lapped me several times beer-wise, and didn't seem to notice, while peppering me with questions about past relationships.
After about an hour I'd seen and heard enough. When I smoothly begged off, claiming a study group meeting, she just looked at me blankly--then, I thought, a little menacingly. "Oh, so you're going to get up and leave now, huh," she said. I thought I saw a vein pop out on her neck. After a long pause, she said, "You know, I think I'll walk outside with you." While I put my coat on, she just stood and watched, leaving her coat, bag, and beer at the bar. I felt the cold blast of the door swinging open, heard her walking behind me. My heart was beating fast as I stepped onto the sidewalk. I braced myself for a wallop and turned, but she was already lighting a cigarette. Without looking up she said, "See you around."