I grew up in the 80s and 90s. I say that like I’ve moved on from those eras. I have not. You will still find me rocking out to love ballads and grunge. My taste in TV and movies is even better. If am in front of the TV, there are good odds it is epic cheeseball entertainment. My DVR is full of the last twenty minutes of the best movies. I can’t tell you how many times my wife has uttered the phrase, “How many times can you watch the end of Top Gun and Days of Thunder.” Anyone else own the entire Miami Vice DVD collection, and watch them?
Dating in the 90s was horrifying and hilarious. I’m going to skip the fashion of the era, if you would call it fashion, and move on the act of dating. Back in those days, we had to actually meet and talk to people. I have sympathy for those who will never experience the fear and excitement of walking up to a stranger and striking up a conversation for a potential romantic benefit. It makes me nauseous thinking about it. I still get nervous if my wife maintains eye contact for an extended length of time.
If the initial meeting goes well, there is no guarantee the actual date will happen. There was no last minute cancellation text. The other person would decide to not show up. You were left standing alone in front of a busy restaurant. I believe the standard wait time was thirty minutes. Being stood up wasn’t pleasant, but it wasn’t that bad. It was the idea that you now had to initiate conversation with someone new.
Breaking up with someone was about the worst thing you had to do in life. It was often a public affair. If you delivered the bad news in a crowded restaurant, the odds were in your favor they wouldn’t make a scene. I remember dating someone for months, with hopes they would break up with me first.
We started to see a surge in technology toward the end of the 90s. Mobile phones and texting were starting to hit mainstream. This was cool, but very expensive. Phone calls were as much as 75 cents a minute and text messages were 5 cents a text. In the early 2000s, the average number of texts sent and received per person was 35 per month. You read that right, per month. Today, the average person sends and receives and average of 94 text messages per day. Texting would have been handy when cancelling dates or breaking up.
It all took a turn when AOL instant messenger showed up in 1997. You now had the ability to search for people based on location or hobbies and chat with them online. There was no risk of rejection. You were both using fake names, so no risk of running into them in person. You didn’t even have an option for a profile picture. You had ask for a picture. Those were some tense moments. The tension started when they started typing. They were either going to say no and kill the relationship, or start uploading the picture. With dial-up internet, you might have to wait five minutes for the pic to upload. I am sweating thinking about it.
Several dating web sites kicked off in the late 90s and early 2000s. The early perception of online dating was that you were desperate. If you participated, you did it in private. There was the occasional moment when you came across someone you knew. It was a life saver the designer built in a block button.
It wasn’t until E-harmony came along that it got serious. They had a brilliant plan. You weren’t able to choose your matches. You had to fill out an hour long questionnaire. This generated a personality profile and you were matched on the likelihood you were compatible. This enticed the ladies. There was this idea that any guy who would take the time to fill out that questionnaire, was serious and looking for a real relationship. I have always been a great test taker. I threw on my best sport coat and took a selfie with my flip phone. I’m in.
I had over 900 matches over the course of a year. I exchanged the default E-harmony questions with a couple of hundred ladies. I had extensive correspondence with probably thirty. I had actual in person dates with around twenty. I learned a lot about people. People lie, especially online! I met this one lady that sent me a picture of her sister. They did not look anything alike. Another lady’s profile picture was of her and her prized goat. I almost decided to meet her just to verify she had the goat.
I was about to close up shop, when I received notification of a match near me. The profile looked interesting. No picture, but that wasn’t uncommon. We went through the normal progression and decided to have the highly anticipated phone call. We chatted for hours. The conversation was effortless and we laughed a lot. I asked for a picture and she provided one. The picture didn’t disappoint.
We decided to meet at the coffee shop in Barnes & Noble. I recognized her when I walked in. I could see the nervousness on her face. She was this cute little thing, not far removed from the sexy librarian type. I smiled and thought, “She’ll do.” I married her a year later. I am happy to say, she still puts up with me every day.
If you stay away from the prized goat, this online dating stuff can work.