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Tales of dating before the Internet

February 23, 2011
By Tony Rutherford
When the Internet began catching on, one of the initial popularities was online dating sites. They allowed those timid souls to test the waters of finding a date using traits other than pickup lines.

Dating services and personal ads existed long before the Internet, however. They gained the most acceptance in larger cities such as New York , Chicago and Columbus, simply because of the amount of singles looking for a connection in an ocean of strangers.

However, the perils in smaller and medium sized Heartland cities and towns often included a type of Scarlet Letter. If you have to advertise (market yourself), there must have something wrong with you.

In truth, the wrong included desires to not participate in the watering hole meet markets, attempts to find partners with greater spiritual similarities, introverts seeking a chance to be chosen, and opportunities for dreamers to take a swing at the bat to find their dream date.

Having Christian (or other religious) beliefs, which precluded alcohol, I found myself — as well as others — seeking a way to come into contact with compatible members of the opposite gender who were not into bar pickups and one night stands.

After having blown $400 on a computer service that only sent possible dates from 150 miles away, I decided to fill the niche with a service of my own. No fancy computers. No expensive matchmakers. No video interviews.

Since no one trusted the concept, simplicity and low expenses won: I founded Connections which was little more than personal ads sent to the members who paid to have letters forwarded.

Worse-than-snail-mail pace eventually coaxed me into occasional singles party ventures. That, plus one client who phoned twice daily: Have you found me a boyfriend yet? She and her mom volunteered their family room for the no-alcohol party. Admittedly sheepish about making calls to invite, I allowed the mom and daughter to stand in.

Saturday night that week was at first an awesome cool for the dudes, when they met the born-again Christian babe. Just that she wanted a body builder-pharmaceutical salesperson combo. And, the inviters neglected to invite many females — no competition for Miss Find Me A _. Of course, her sister was there, but labeled herself as unavailable.

However, the gathering did not lead to a Mr. Hunk for Miss Find Me, but all of us made some friends. Miss Find Me accompanied me to dinner and we would bore each other with our not-over-the last-person dialogue and amuse by pointing out potentials at the restaurant, knowing that neither of us would make move numero uno.

Ironically, adding a fashion photography page in an entertainment news tabloid convinced me of the piece of attraction advice that no one believes — it’s harder for the very attractive to hook up, especially if they are also too picky. Thus, the local connections folder contained more than one model/pageant type, which helped trash the only unattractive people need to use a dating service stereotype.

What type of successes occurred? Rewriting a twentysomething young professional’s profile to vice president of fire restoration company (from working for my father) found him more possibilities than he could fill his sports car. A TV personality joined hoping to find someone who had not watched him previously. It happened. And, they got married.

During one of those singles party phone recruitment sessions, though, the greatest blessing came. The mother of this young twentysomething woman thanked me for operating the service. It seems her daughter had not had a date. She also had terminal cancer. No marriage, but the man she met held her hand when she passed away.

Observations learned still apply, like stretching the truth way too far. Or , trying to be someone you are not. But those are unimportant when you think of the young woman meeting a dude who held her hand as she drifted into Heaven.



Contact Tony at

letters@graffitiwv.com
 
 

 

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