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"I'm a member," my friend Ilene offered matter-of-factly, barely pausing long enough to look up from her plate as she continued to eat her salad with relish. "Mmm. This is so good," she raved," as if the bomb she had just dropped meant nothing. "Are these dried cranberries or cherries?" she inquired, oblivious to my bewilderment. Taken aback momentarily, I promptly shook myself out of my fleeting stupor. For a second she almost had me going. "No you're not," I countered.
“I am,” she insisted. “I’m a veteran.”  

I choked on my drink, spraying a mouthful of berry smoothie all over the table.
“Are you alright?” She filled my glass with more chilled lemon-water from the glass carafe on our table, and then eagerly went back to her organic salad. I sipped from it, and was just about to take the bait, when I stopped myself. No way. I wasn’t falling for this. “Right,” I said, joining in on the gag.
“Aren’t you?” she asked. Something about her expression made me pause. Surely she wasn’t serious?
“The sex is fantastic,” she stated simply. My mouth turned into a fly trap.

Ilene was the editor-in-chief of a trendy, home-design magazine, and she had just flown into L.A. from NY for an important photo shoot for the next issue’s cover. They were doing a spread on a real-estate-obsessed, Hollywood celebrity’s latest home renovation - the most recent purchase in a series of compulsive home-hopping, but surely not their last. We were lunching in a bustling cafĂ© on N. Robertson, chowing down on typical oh-so-healthy, California organic fare, catching up, when searching for commaraderie, I told her about Jody’s new online-dating venture. The last thing I expected was a casual declaration that she too was a proud card-carrying member of an online-dating site.  

“Get outta here,” I said. This chic fashonista, a powerhouse of a woman, well known in the publishing and design worlds, on Find-Me-A-Soulmate? I could just see it now - “Prominent, divorced, forty-something, NY hottie, looking for Mr. McDreamy to share candlelit dinners, sunsets, and walks on the beach with. Oh, and no roommates please (that includes parents) ...”  

“So what picture did you use for your profile,” I asked, playing along.
“Well at first I was a little skittish about the whole thing, you know how it is - so I didn’t use any. But then you quickly learn that no one responds unless they know what you look like, so I used the one from my editor’s page - you know, the headshot?”
I stopped dead in my tracks, just inches away from the next bite out of my pita sandwich.
“Well don’t look at me that way!” she said rather defensively. “You have to sell yourself you know. Hey, I’m competing with photo-shopped versions out there! It’s tough.”  

Unable to contain it any longer, I finally burst out laughing. The idea of her shopping for men this way was just too preposterous. “It’s not so bad,” she said. “Look, I’ll show you.” I realized just in time she that was only talking about the picture. Without batting an eye, she quickly pulled out her Blackberry and logged onto the webpage. There she was in full color - airbrushed to perfection. “I have a profile on My Space too,” she added proudly. “All this Web 2.0 stuff is just so fabulous you know - the social networking - so many opportunities.”

“But...Why...How-?” I stammered. I couldn’t get my head around it. Was I the only one who thought this online thing was just a tad outrageous? Had the whole world suddenly gone crazy - all my middle-aged friends falling prey to such lonesomeness they were suddenly driven to total cyber madness, or was I really that out of it?
“But you go to so many parties, meet so many amazing people, have so much access,” I said. “What about your professional status, and safety? Aren’t you ever worried?”  

“Oh darling, where have you been? It’s a brave new world out there. Everybody’s online. Who do you think is responding? No one has time for live dates anymore. This is so much more efficient. And the sex? - it’s fabulously dirty. I have met more scrumptious men this way than I could ever hope to meet at any event or party. Of course, there is the occasional creep. And then there are the married ones... Oh, and then there is the occasional gay guy, you know, just experimenting. But one doesn’t really have to worry about any of that. This opens a whole new world of possibilities.
“Sex?” I repeated.
“Well of course,” she said. “That is where all good dates lead eventually, isn’t it? Only you don’t have to deal with the snoring and morning breath, any awkward exchanges - worry about coffee in the morning if it didn’t work out, or change the sheets after. It’s all very tidy. And after all, the best sex is all in the head anyway, isn’t it?”  

Was it? Was I really the only forty-something single person living in the dark ages? And was sex online - whatever that meant - really that fantastic? How did one even get there! My head was reeling. And what about intimacy, romance, love? Was there still such a thing? Two fallen friends in one week.... Was this where it was all leading - was I next, I wondered? (Look for part 3 - ‘Counterparts and Collusion‘)  

Copyright 2010     heart heart heartbreak  

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