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Black Lamb


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My spiritual practice

May 1st, 2007


Now that spring has sprung, men are bursting from their dormant buds and flowering embarrassing riches of enthusiasm through the ether, dropping petals at my virtual feet. I’ve had eight “winks” today alone, and five other guys actually took the time to write me an email: unheard of in the no-woman’s-land of virtual dating.

OK, I admit it. The photo on my match.com profile is… well… old. In it, there’s a photo of me holding my cat Barney who died almost two years ago. When I opened the email tonight from “outdoorsman32” (handle changed to protect the innocent) asking “How’s your kitty?” I came face to face with the affront of my false marketing. What is the appropriate response for a woman in my position? Should I reply to this anonymous man with, “My kitty is dead”? Now there’s an interesting conversation piece for getting acquainted with a stranger. A death and an exposed misrepresentation all in one sentence. Suddenly, I am a twenty-first century version of Mrs. Peacock in the Library with the Candlestick.

In the past two years, no Man of the Ether has stumbled upon this faux pas of my no-longer-living cat. Thank you, “outdoorsman32,” for outing me. Unfortunately, there’s more to this True Confessions. Are you ready? I’m not actually as thin or tan or blonde as I look in those pictures. That was then, this is now. So it’s no surprise, really, that I find most men to be an entirely different reality than the idealized version of themselves they present online. We all want to be liked and admired. We all outlive our interpretations of ourselves. How could it be otherwise?

Having dated off and on, alternately unveiling and hiding my online profile over the course of five years, I have distilled this existentially stupefying experience for you into a single thesis statement: Being disappointed in men has become my spiritual practice. And match.com, I am shocked to realize as I write this, has been my virtual house of worship.

Back in my early twenties, my friend Sam said he was going to start a “Send me $10 religion.” He thought he should forgo all of the God bullshitting that those TV preachers pushed and just cut to the chase: “I’ll be the thing that you can believe in if you send me money.” Evidently match.com ran with Sam’s vision and made it not just a reality but an incredibly profitable industry. There are now people in every zip code paying for a reason to believe that their online stroll through endless virtual aisles of potential mates may serve up something that will quench their matrimonial thirst.

I’m sorry, “outdoorsman32,” I’m not the woman I appear to be. My dog sleeps with my dirty underwear, and my dead cat is planted beneath the weeping cherry tree in my front yard. This is what intimacy looks like in my house. Though I might pray for the possibility that you actually exist and pay my dues so I might even pray alongside this idea of you, I accept that at best our coins might jangle together in the tzedekah box as our deceptions and disappointments make their own kind of music. •

Posted by: The Editors
Category: Cohen | Link to this Entry


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