Scratch Dot Com (Part 1)

DISCLAIMER: All names have been changed to protect the identities of persons mentioned. No animals have been harmed in the writing of this piece. Furthermore, this essay does not reflect the views or opinions of anyone other than me. Do not try this at home. Or anywhere else. Ever. I mean it.

Every time I see the eHarmony commercial featuring Neil Clark Warren and those sappily-ever-after eHarmonized couples, I have flashbacks to my own dramatic experiences with online dating.

I made the foray into online dating  about three years ago after a string of unsuccessful relationships. I lamented about my dreary state of singleness to anyone who would listen. I had painted such a sad picture for myself. I would be single forever while the rest of the world would bask in a lifetime of marital bliss. It just isn’t fair, I whined to Stephanie, one of my happily coupled-up girlfriends one rainy Saturday. After having endured several of my dramatic, well-rehearsed soliloquies, she stopped me.

“Have you thought about online dating?”

Dumb question, I thought.

I met Warren, Satan’s first cousin, on a site I like to call Scratch.com. His profile stated that he was a hard-working brother with an executive job in sales, and a beautiful townhome in Northern Virginia. It also said that Warren enjoyed traveling, sports and hunting. In reality, Warren was a lazy copier salesman hanging onto his cushy job by a thread. And the stately townhome in a swanky Northern Virginia neighborhood was about to go into foreclosure because his ex-fiancée had had enough of his wandering eye (a hobby he forgot to mention). When I met him, I saw a tall, chocolate brother who looked more attractive in person than he did in his online photo. After a few short months of dating, Warren, the polished, smooth-talking, attentive gentleman who obsessed over fine suits, ties and crisp creases in his dress slacks, turned into a sadistic Class-A jerk that had a woman for every day of the week.

Warren’s horrible behavior and inconsistent lies had me sprawled out on my friend’s couch crying over my broken heart. So for Stephanie to suggest I venture back into cyberspace on another quest for love was ludicrous.

Stephanie, a self-professed online dating expert, offered to tweak my online profile to help me get more hits from potential suitors. After all, she had just met a great guy herself on the internet, and she was still racking up winks, nods and online kisses. Stephanie’s edits ended up being edited by my friend Marissa, a dating expert in her own right. Wild and brazen, Marissa wasted no time in marking up my profile with drastic and racy changes.

“You look like a goddamned saint in this picture,” Marissa pointed out over drinks one evening. “Loosen up, let your weave down. Get some big hoop earrings, and for God’s sake do something with your makeup.” Marissa frowned. “You need to turn up your oomph factor, ‘cause right now you need to be a 100 and you’re really at negative 500. You need to look like a good girl who’s just a little bit slutty.”

My new and improved profile ended up being a hybrid of Stephanie’s distinguished edits and Marissa’s tawdry suggestions. The first day the new and improved Mocha1Mocha appeared online, she got over 100 hits. I was delighted.

I hastily scribbled down the user names of the cute gentlemen I wanted to respond to: MillionaireBy40, BroLightEyes, MrBrandMan2U, SuaveRev007. Eager to erase the memories of Warren from my mind, I started firing off responses to my admirers.

MillionaireBy40 was the first to respond. His real name was Ray. He lived in Baltimore. He was 41, and not a millionaire. Ray was an entrepreneur with big dreams and lots of dumb ideas. His goal was to get rich selling “liquid nutritional products” through his internet-marketing website. He claimed he also had a side business as an independent contractor, for some lucrative business on the verge of big profits. Doing what, you ask? Hell if I ever found out. The only real clue I had was that Ray said his workday normally started around two in the afternoon. By then, half the day was gone. Ray wondered why his business was so slow. I guessed he assumed that the average person didn’t start working until late in the afternoon, and that banks, merchants, vendors and hospitals opened at two in the afternoon. Just as frightening images of me being the wife of a liquid-nutritional-product-hocking-slash-independent-contractor-of-nothing flashed before my eyes, Ray said he had just read the book The Secret. After reading the book, he wrote himself a $10,000 check and taped it to his bathroom mirror.

“Interesting,” I deadpanned.

“I just know that I am going to cash that check one day soon.”

I wondered why he just didn’t write himself a check for a million dollars. After all, he was MillionaireBy40, and according to his age, he was slightly behind schedule.

Ray insisted that the positive energy of wealth was flowing through him. But apparently, it wasn’t flowing strong enough to keep his gas, electricity or telephone on. It seems that MillionaireBy40 was in the middle of billing disputes with the utility companies at the time. I only found this out when I asked about this Jesse Anderson person whose name appeared on my caller-ID screen whenever Ray called. When he attempted to offer an explanation, he stammered “see, what had happened was…” the first five words in a chronic liar’s vernacular. It turns out that Jesse Anderson was Ray’s good friend who had good credit. I saw no future with the liquid nutritional product marketing executive slash part-time independent contractor of nothing who couldn’t get a line of credit with BGE or Verizon, and crossed him off the list.

SuaveRev007 called me one rainy evening to ask me out on a date. During the conversation, he seemed like a great guy, decent conversationalist, well mannered. I was kind of touched when he offered to pray before ending our phone call.

The first date — at a outdoor concert on the Sunday before Labor Day – was rather uneventful save for a trip to his office in Warrentown where he wanted me to check out the lobby and the restrooms. I think he was more concerned about me being impressed that he had a key to his office building. Wow.

Then another Sunday (all of our dates were on Sundays, it seemed) I accompanied him to a guest-preaching gig at a friend’s church. Before he began his sermon (which was about a dry as the Mojave Desert), he took a moment to acknowledge me – his girlfriend – Michelle for coming out to support him. I wanted to raise my hand and tell him, “Excuse me, but my name is Kim.” But I didn’t.

And there was another Sunday…the Sunday I’d like to call Salad Bowl Sunday. We visited a big, vibrant church, and the singing was so good, I felt compelled to put a little extra in the offering plate when it came around. “God loves a cheerful giver”, that’s what the Bible says.

God loves babies and fools, too.

SuaveRev nudged me and asked, “Can I borrow five dollars for my offering? Things are tight for me this week.”

Alrighty then!

After church, we headed up the road to Ruby Tuesday’s for something to eat. We both ordered plates of those cute little Ruby mini-burgers and unlimited salad from the salad bar. SuaveRev let me know halfway through the meal that he was broke and wouldn’t be able to pay for the meal, yet he continued to eat heartily assuming I would take care of the bill (I did.) When the server placed the check on the table at the end of the meal, SuaveRev slid the check, face down, towards me and asked for two carryout boxes. Between the two of us, we had just three teeny, tiny burgers and five French fries left. Why would he need two carryout containers? Was he planning on feeding the multitudes like Jesus did with the three fish and five loaves of bread? Actually, he took one of the containers up to the salad bar and loaded up as if there was no tomorrow. I should point out here that I go by the general rule of thumb when it comes to all-you-can eat restaurants: all-you-can-eat generally means “all you can eat while you’re at the restaurant.” And if I were to put that in a way for the SuaveRev, man of the cloth to understand: “Thou shalt not loadeth up on stuff from the all-you-can-eateth salad bar that thou art planning to carteth home.”

To be continued…(Trust me, there’s more.)

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