A few months ago my friend Cathy asked me to help her write her online dating profile. “I want something that makes me sound smart, funny, and interesting, but not at all desperate,” she told me. I remember staring at her with a confused look and saying, “That’s the complete opposite of just about everything I’ve ever written.” Plus it didn’t matter. Cathy is beautiful and possesses a quality I secretly despise in people: being photogenic. Even her driver’s license photo looks like a model’s headshot.
“The morning after Cathy posted her profile, she called to tell me she had 27 emails from prospective suitors. “So, how will you narrow them down?” I asked. “It won’t be dif cult,” she said, forwarding me some of their photos. “The guy sitting on the hood of his car with his shirt off looks promising,” I joked. “I don’t know,” Cathy replied. “I’m kinda leaning towards the guy with the mutton chop sideburns.” I clicked through the photos. “I like the one where he’s holding the cat with caption, ‘Daddy and Mr. Whiskers,’” I said. “Ewww,” Cathy responded. “I wonder which one is which?”
Cathy’s online dating life quickly became my favorite reality show. She would go on two or three dates a week and then meet me for coffee the following morning to share the grisly details. There was the story of the guy who smelled like Gorgonzola cheese and the one where the man brought his eight-year-old son along with him on the date, saying only, “It’s my day with him.” My personal favorite was the guy who’d recently been in an auto accident and tried to conceal his neck brace under an oversized turtleneck sweater. “He looked like an egg in an egg cup,” Cathy said. I wrote down all of these details in a notebook, certain I could one day exploit Cathy’s pain.
But none of Cathy’s dates prepared her for Allen, a handsome attorney who suggested they meet for cocktails one Friday evening. Cathy showed me his pro le picture, a shot of him at a football game with a ball cap pulled down low on his brow. The morning after her date with Allen, Cathy slid in across from me at a table at Starbucks and whispered: “You are not going to believe this.” Apparently Allen showed up for their date wearing the same ball cap he was sporting in his profile picture, a cap he never removed all through drinks, dinner, and even later when they were, according to Cathy, “making out like high-schoolers” on her couch. In the heat of the moment, Cathy ran her hand across Allen’s cheek and up underneath his cap. She was rubbing her nails across his head when Allen yelped like a miniature schnauzer and jerked away. Cathy glanced at her hand and noticed it was covered in blood, the same blood that was beginning to stream down Allen’s face. I stared at her wide-eyed waiting for the climax of the story. “He had just gotten hair plugs that morning,” Cathy said, emphasizing every word. She glanced down at my notebook and said, “Don’t you ever write about this.” “Oh, please,” I said taking a sip of my latte. “I wouldn’t dream of it.”