By Josh Kodish
First of all, I have to say, online dating is a misnomer. Online dating is as much like dating as shopping at the grocery store is like eating a steak. Actually, it's like a grocery store where you have to sell yourself to the steak. "Hi, Ribeye, I love your packaging! And you look really tender. I rated you Grade A... I'd love to eat... I mean get to know you better. Um, whaddya think? Wanna get marinated sometime?"
In short, I dreaded the thought of online dating with a passion inexplicable to anyone (my parents) who asked why I hated it so. I just couldn't quite answer the question of "Why not try it?" with adequate logic. But I had my reasons: the whole notion of online dating seemed grotesque, desperate, sad... the last stand for 21st century losers. Yes, I judged. Surely, I said then, I could do it the "normal" way. Surely, I didn't have to turn to the internet to conquer my inability, at 30, to have ever had a relationship longer than two months. Surely, the internet was not the answer to my inability, at 30, to have had more than a handful of dates in my entire adult life.
Yes, I judged. In spite of the fact that deep down I knew trying it was inevitable, unavoidable, the way of the new world. I judged only to put it off as long as I could. I was shy, nervous, inexperienced. If I didn't try it, I couldn't possibly be rejected. And, somehow, being rejected on the internet seemed the ultimate cruelty. Plus, I definitely didn't want to give my parents the satisfaction.
Thank God for loneliness, otherwise I would have never pulled the trigger, uploaded an OKCupid profile (at least I wasn't going to pay for this, that's where I drew the line), and started the awkward, start/stop, misstep-filled journey towards the one woman who could possibly have made it all worth it. A mere two years later (though it seems a lifetime), I feel like a new man, with a new life; a life even better than the one I always dreamed of, hoped for, but seriously doubted would ever happen to me. She made all of that doubt disappear.
In my first emails with Michelle I knew right away she was different than the rest. I always struggled with the email part of online dating. What do I ask? How do I show I'm interested but not too interested? How do I subtly shield myself from rejection? How do I keep a conversation going with a person I really don't care about yet? Especially when they are usually giving me so little. I guess these problems are not so far removed from real life dating, after all.
But, with Michelle, the emailing was easy. She made it easy. And she was out of town, so there was no pressure to push for a meetup. We talked about the Beta Band, Leonard Cohen, feminism (I said I had never thought of myself as a feminist, but I sure did like and respect women, did that count? She said yes.), my quirky hobbies (making sourdough bread), her life plan, and on and on in some of the longest emails I've ever written. I shared, she shared, I over shared, and it was all okay with her. She seemed to get me. And her writing was such a turn on. It was so naturally smart, funny, and warm. I had a good feeling every time I opened my inbox and saw a letter from her. Finally, a girl I was attracted to and I could be best friends with, a girl I imagined wanting to spend all my time with. And then the letters stopped.
Michelle was moving from New York back to Florida. I knew that. But she had been a little cagey about the timing and for about a month and a half, I received no letters from her. I was disappointed. Sad, if I allowed myself to be. What had happened? Maybe I actually had scared her away with my neurotic over sharing? Maybe she decided I was ugly? While I waited for the answers to these questions, I moved on. Another girl had emailed me, so, we met and went on a few dates. It was only desperation. I literally imagined how much better it would have been to be talking with Michelle when I was with the other girl. It felt like cheating. These were not emotions I expected to have about someone I had only talked with online.
Finally, Michelle surfaced. She was in town and ready to meet; I was delirious. During our first telephone call I was smiling from ear to ear the entire time. After our first telephone call, I was buzzing. My body was literally pulsating. God, I wanted to talk to this girl forever. Our first date was at an ice cream shop and I remember my first vision of her so clearly - walking towards me with arms outstretched to give me a hug, her face almost shockingly beautiful, sexy, comforting. I felt relief. We hugged and walked into the store, ordered, and fell right into a conversational groove, as if we had been together for years (I imagined, having never made it past two months, as previously noted). All the nerves faded instantly, and before the night was over, the hopelessness of my future had faded, too. She brought out the best in me.
Less than a year and a half later, we got married right on the beach where we had our first date. Right where she had made me yell out my inner demons into the void of the vast, dark Atlantic Ocean. Right where the best thing I could think to yell was "Hot snickerdoodles!" Right where she totally got it and thought that was a great thing to yell. Right where my life changed forever.
All of this is to say: 30-year-old hipster doofus reluctantly and mostly to spite his nagging Jewish parents, entered the dark void of online dating only to find the love of his life and the greatest woman in the world (lucky for him, these are one in the same person).