I signed up for two prominent, well-advertised, on-line dating services, EEK- Grominy and Lighter Dot Com.  Every day I received 3-20 new matches based on my “personality inventory” results, and other, unknown calculations. These were guaranteed to be close matches (listed as 70%, 80%, 89% matches) to my needs and personality type. From what I can gather the criteria they use to match people are apparently things like 1) Likes to watch TV, 2) Likes Outdoors, 3) Likes to go to restaurants, 4) Likes Politics, 5) Likes dogs, 6) Likes to sniff old, used socks (OK, not really).  Week after week I e-mailed my interests to lady after lady after lady. By their descriptions and percentage ratings we seemed to have very similar interests. I got no responses though! Continuing on, I soon put 2 and 2 together and hypothesized that these descriptors listed on the profiles were often not in their own words but seemingly abstracted by a computer from various multiple choice questions you had to answer upon signing up. I got no responses, not an, “I’m not interested”, not a “No thanks”, nothing. Finally, after 4 weeks and probably over 100 overtures, one lady did respond. Even a blind squirrel occasionally gets a nut I guess!

We set up to meet at a Cracker Barrel Restaurant– her choice.  She didn’t look like her picture though. In fact I didn’t recognize her. The only way we actually made contact was when, after we both wandered about the lobby, she asked me if I was Skip! She was not unattractive, and like me, average. We talked for 45 minutes. I quickly noted that she was obviously not enthralled with me possibly because I have stiffness in my back, or ???  I’m not the perfect specimen anymore.  We conversed. Her words seemed forced.  I tried to buy her dinner.  She wouldn’t eat.  So I had a piece of pie and a coke. She had tea.  I was starving. I could have eaten a horse. But I was polite. I said, “Maybe we could meet again here next week?”  She said OK.  I went back the next week. She was a no-show. I just chalked it up to payback from years ago once when I was in the service.

Over the course of the next 8-10 weeks I did get a few responses from my e-mailing efforts. There were a couple, “Sorry, I’m not interested, You’re not my type” and one crazy lady who wanted to meet me right now never mind that someone she had dated was apparently living in her house and she couldn’t get rid of him. I heard her whole sorrowful story and wished her luck…….and lost that phone number.  The dog ate it!

Another lady did actually have lunch with me. Even from her picture she looked way out of my league but her pose and the background were so out of synch for a dating service photo that I couldn’t resist sending the cryptic message—“Are you the Cheshire cat eating the mouse!”  She bit. We seemed to hit it off well all during lunch but she obviously was playing an intellectual, one-up-man-ship game. In the parking lot I asked if we might meet again.  She said “What’s wrong with your back?  You can’t straighten up very well can you?   I play golf 20 times a week. This won’t work.  Maybe we can have lunch again sometime because you apparently can keep up with me intellectually.  Call me some time!”  She got in her BMW, put the top down and drove into the sunset. I got in my Hyundai, opened the window, and drove out of the parking lot!  I never called her.

I also noted that, despite my asking for candidates within 25 miles, 99% of my potential matches/dates consistently lived from 50 to 300 miles away. One even lived in China but was “coming to America soon!” And of course, about once a week I got a seemingly obligatory flirt from some scantily clad, sexy 30 year old bombshell living in Albuquerque or Milwaukee, or Hawaii—a good bit farther than my requested 25 mile limit  So I e-mailed the two on-line firms and complained that they were not honoring my wishes and that I felt that they were sending me bogus messages and flirts!  I was not at all happy with their services.  After a fair lapse of time they responded and assured me that they were trying to send appropriate matches within 25 miles my way.  Well, you know how that went, don’t you? I might as well have yelled down a well.  There was no change what-so-ever. So four months into the contract I cancelled both services-do not renew—drop me now! (If you don’t do this they automatically renew you indefinitely and charge your credit card until you inform them otherwise. This is stated in the contract.) I wonder if this is legal?  I am convinced that there are dead people still being listed as candidates because nobody cancelled their contract.   “Sorry we can’t do that: Your listing will end when the time is up. In the mean-time we’re sure that you will find someone to your liking on our service”, they responded. As the 6 month deadline approached, the EEK-Grominy people, who usually sent me 1-3 matches a day, began daily sending me 5-20 different matches and then, during the last week I got all 1425 (they said) of their customers thrown at me—some from Alaska and Puerto Rico.  Of course none of them responded to me either but I admit that I didn’t write to all 1425 of them.  I got writer’s cramp. The Lighter Dot Com people—who had many more months on their contract– just kept daily sending me 20 new “fresh” matches which, after 8 months, I began to recognize as many of the same people shuffled around each day with maybe a few new faces added. I’m pretty sure that, if only just to test the limits, I’ve now responded to most of these people once, twice, four times—sometimes cryptically and mysteriously just to see if I could draw a response. I got none!  I got to know pretty much most of their customers by their pictures and crazily made up names like AnAn, Sexygurl, and Poosie Suzie which invariably were sent to me over and over and over again. I have trouble remembering names, except for one unfortunate, ill-chosen name –Msphyllis—(yes, I read and re-read that one several times to make sure that it wasn’t what I initially thought it was) but if I see a face once I remember it forever.

Let’s talk locations and social class.  From my now eight months experience with these two Dot Coms, if a lady is from, say, a well to do suburb like Chagrin Falls, Hiram, Hudson or Aurora, there is no way that she will respond to you if you are from working class, Mantua, Streetsboro, Windham, or Twinsburg. We apparently do not warrant responding to. Virtually every response that I did get was from a similar working class location.  Your best bet to get responded to is picking someone from a similar social class neighborhood.

I quickly recognized that the pictures people post of themselves on these Dot Coms tell you a great deal about themselves and correlate highly with social class and location.    As they say, “Pictures tell a thousand words.”  Many of the posted pictures of women are obviously posed in a studio and include vases of flowers, background antiques, fancy drapes and the woman striking a pose right out of Good Housekeeping Magazine dressed to the nines. Some were even in dance or ballerina poses. The included extra pictures were frequently labeled “Me on the beach at the Riviera, Me drinking wine in Tuscany, Me in Cannes, and Me and Bilbo in Cancun”—Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me!!!!  Now do you think for one minute that any of these women are going to be interested in common old Skip Schweitzer from working class Mantua, sitting on the back of his Model “A” Ford tailgate or in front of his wall of trophy fish?  So you very quickly begin to only consider women who are obviously un-made up, in natural snap shot poses, real life looking women who look their age.

My daughter, a university professor and researcher, researched these firms and confirmed that the response rate is about 1-3 percent.  What this means is that for every 100 responses you make to these prospective women you may get 1 to 3 responses back.  That is as low as, or lower than the response rate to random laundry detergent surveys you get in the mail.

Let’s be honest. I am not the world’s most handsome man. I am balding, 67 years old, a little bent over from years of hard work and athletic injuries. I am not Adonis.  But I am not ugly and stupid; I am average.  I can talk about most anything, I am interesting and can be funny. I put a realistic picture of me in the dot coms. Obviously the lady who stood me up was able to recognize me from it.

The straw that broke the camel’s back, though came the other day when a lady responded to me a couple times, forwarded me her phone number and asked me to call.  I did so and within the first two sentences she hung up.

Was it my breath? Perhaps it was the 8th day of a seven day deodorant pad? Was I sucking the helium out of balloons again?  I’ll never know! It’s good that I have a strong ego.

This ongoing column is dedicated to those of us—post 60’ers–  after “the sinking”.   If you identify with it, please come into the lifeboat and take a seat.  This is the ongoing saga of coping with the post 6o and single again dilemma.  I am open to ideas, feedback, and information that maybe helpful to all of us.  You can reach me at tel: 330-562-9801 or e-mail me at Skipstaxidermy@yahoo.com  

Author’s note: The names of the various dot coms have been changed

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Skip Schweitzer, of Mantua, can be described from early on in life as an avid outdoorsman and old car restorer and aficionado. He comes from a long line of great lakes fishermen and hunters. He is a taxidermist and a retired psychologist. His grandfather Charles, a machinist and fisherman who fed his family with fish during the Great Depression, was one of the original auto restorers at the Thompson Auto Museum, now the Crawford Auto Aviation Museum. Skip learned to hunt, fish and restore cars from his father Roy and learned the value and appreciation of antique automobiles from his grandfather. Skip has, over the years, restored upwards of 25 automobiles including many Fords, Studebakers, Buicks, Jeeps and VWs. Skip has written extensively on automobiles and outdoors for several newspapers, magazines and auto publications this past 20 years. His current antique automobiles include a 1930 Ford Model “A”, and a 1970 Volkswagen Cabriolet. Skip’s most frequent bylines are, Outdoors With Skip, and The Old Road.