After reading the Sunday NY Times' "Generation B" piece, we felt like we'd been on an emotional roller-coaster. "Oh, that's sweet! But that's creepy. But maybe that cancels it out? Ew, not that..."
Ron James is a social worker at a retirement home (caring profession!) who, when his 13-year-marriage ended, joined JDate the same month (really?). He says he wanted to "get back on the horse" (fair enough) and so he "signed up to meet all women ages 30 to 50 who lived within 50 miles of his Westchester apartment, including Manhattan." (Hmm.) "In 18 months, he e-mailed 500 to 600 women and dated 40 to 50. On a social worker's salary, it became expensive: the train to Grand Central Terminal, the dates, a $39.99 monthly JDate fee." So he'd stack his dates, arranging one on top of another at a centrally-located Starbucks, eating between dates to save money and avoid the women seeing one another and being hurt. (What the baristas thought is an open question.)
While online dating has long since lost its sad-sack stigma, and JDate is a popular choice, as the article mentions, amongst the Boomer set, James' aggressive approach was still unusually thorough. Indeed, a non-psychiatrist might regard it as a coping mechanism, or a means from distracting from the pain of a divorce. And yet, to hear James tell it, it was all worth it. A year and a half into his full-time dating, he met Cheryl Daija, who, while she'd only been on three JDates, shared other interests of his: community activism, music, an "old bohemian" ethos. She was his second date of the day - he'd been taken in, the first time, by a woman who wore sunglasses in her photo - and he liked her ripped jeans. They fell in love and, when they realized both their first marriages had had the same anniversary, they decided to marry each other on the same date - which, if nothing else, would seem to make the math very easy.
At the end of the day, it's a happy ending, and who doesn't love that? The couple is in love, has made a life together, show once again that, despite the impersonal morass that is the internet, human connection can happen. And yet, I couldn't help but wonder (and what a passive-aggressive written tic that is, by the way; the disingenuous abdication of the perennial girl-woman): why share this? Why make the sausage in quite such a public forum, to add an even uglier image? Why the hundreds of dates, unsatisfactory, "dishonest" woman before he finds his bohemian princess? What of those hags hiding behind their sunglasses, failing to meet his so-high standards, who will read this and recognize themselves as one of the hundreds he saw in a day? The ends, James would have us know, justify the means: he's found love - everything that came before was, like so much on the internet, impermanent, ephemeral, somehow not real. Is this a happy ending modern love story? Sure. But nothing nowadays is really that simple.
His 50 First Dates (or in Her Case, 3) [NY Times]