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This article by Carolyn Foote Edelmann was prepared for the June 30, 2004 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Diary: Checking Out a Dating Service, Part 2

Editor’s note: In March, we ran a piece by Carolyn Foote Edelmann, a poet, freelance writer, and avid hiker, in which she told of her experience engaging the services of the Lawrenceville branch of the Together introduction agency. By signing up with a friend, Edelmann was able to split the membership fee, which entitled her to four matches.

When last we left her, she had filled out an extensive questionnaire and completed two in-person interviews with Amy DiStefano, who has headed up the Lawrenceville office for a decade; the waiting game had begun. Now, we find that she has had three “encounters” and found them less than savory — perhaps eye-opening is a better word. We offer the following caveat: obviously Together is not for everyone, nor would it claim to be. Edelmann’s experience offers up some real food for thought for anyone on the quest for finding a new mate. See what you think:

The song in my head upon waking insists, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” Rush? Yes, I did, when the flyer for Together — “the world’s oldest and largest personalized introduction service” — arrived in prophetic snail-mail. Having recently been felled by oral surgery, I was eager for something, anything, interesting and non-painful; I considered this wild extravagance as a new sort of singles cruise. And settled in to wait — for profiles, for my “perfect match.”

I have now received three profiles — truncated descriptions of what I must admit have been unsatisfactory men, in my opinion anyway. Despite intense interactions with Amy, in person; and Christine, of “the Match Team” in the Clark office, by telephone, no one appropriate, let alone exciting, has come my way.

I mistakenly called the first as soon as his profile arrived. That’s not the way it works. I might as well be back in dancing school, minus white gloves and Mary Jane’s — hands folded, ankles crossed, waiting for what should be mutual delight. It took this eager partner a full five days to get back to me, and only then did I discover that he lives in Westfield. True, Westfield is technically within the traveling range I had designated. But there are commutes and then there are commutes. Long ago, as I told Mr. One, I was in relationship with a man from that town. That mileage did not enhance our connection. Mr. One agreed the distance was too great for us as well. I contacted Together: “No more North Jersey. We are not meeting. That `match’ cannot count as one of my four.”

Mr. Two arrived via a telephone call — before Together’s paperwork. “This is your perfect match!,” declared a voice on the other end of the line one evening when I picked up the phone. Momentarily stunned, I stumbled through an introduction with a complete unknown quantity — I knew nothing about this fellow on the phone. The time was well beyond conversation hour for friends, let alone strangers. A delightfully funny interchange, however, ensued — laughter out loud welcome after a long day of writing articles, proposals, and queries to stubborn editors. “Are you a perfect match?,” he challenged. “Of course!,” I retorted. “How long have you been one?” “About three seconds.”

Building on his interest in classic cars (I grew up in Detroit, eschewing car-mania, but classics pass) and antiques, we set up an exploration of Hopewell’s Tomato Factory, with an early supper at Hopewell Valley Inn. Mr. Two was intrigued, not distanced, by my description of its rustic atmosphere, homey service, and Hungarian foods. At least this man lived nearby, so the encounter wouldn’t be a logistical ordeal.

Mr. Two called me two more times that week, clearly eager for our meeting. Our conversations were lively, although by now his profile had arrived. It deviated significantly from my stated and written requirements, not only in my Together questionnaire but also in my own “My Ideal Partner” list. At this stage in the game, Amy was no longer my contact; Christine, who has never met me (or my friend with whom I signed up). We’re both opinionated, with strong writing skills — is is even possible that we could have delineated our “partner needs” with insufficient clarity and force?

I had an uncanny realization: I had no idea that there are people who are better on the phone than in person. What I encountered on the fateful Saturday night with Mr. Two was a leaden person, who seemed not even to know my name. No subject that I raised, face-to-face, struck sparks, let alone the liveliness I’d encountered on the phone. At the Tomato Factory, his “mania: for antiques dissipated as soon as he made the one purchase for relatives that had been our pre-set goal for the visit. I mistakenly thought that the museum-like antiques emporium, with its fine array of dealers, would offer a trip down memory lane. I figured we’d get mileage out of “Aunt So-and-So had one of these!” and “I haven’t seen this since I was in grade school.” Wrong.

Gratefully, I sank into my restaurant chair, sure, at least, of wonderful wiener schnitzel and spaetzle. Where was the merry being of all those calls? The evening’s nadir may have arrived with Mr. Two’s request that the waitress remove his plate, wrap his food — before I was halfway through the Inn’s generous portions. Or was it when he forgot my name, despite the three phone calls?

No, no, I’m wrong. This was the pit moment: Despite my having placed hiking at the top of my Together questionnaires and my profile, Mr. Two revealed that he never eats out in Princeton because you have to walk too far from parking space to restaurant. No wonder he hadn’t been interested when I’d pointed out the enticing Towpath, the D&R Canal gleaming in lowering light. A nice man, sweet, generous to friends and family. But a non-walker! Why had he called me even once?

Well, I’m new to all this. I must not be doing it right, I thought. At home, that night, I called Together, to say, again, “This cannot count.” And to write, on the back of their profile, in the evaluation form, all my reasons. My purpose was to show Amy and Christine, once again, what I need in order to be intrigued, let alone to fall in love.

Last weekend, a third profile arrived. Mr. Three lives too far away, also, but in a pretty direction. He’s into sports, but one of them is golf. (For ex-marital reasons, I’d made it clear to Together that that sport repels me.) Not intrigued, I try to stay curious and open. Mr. Three’s first description has to do with communication. Which is exactly what does not take place. My cynical friend says, “They’re sending us their Uncle Charlie’s”. I don’t want my friend to be correct, but add, “When they can get them up off the couch,” uncharacteristically close to bitterness. Now, even I descend to cynicism. “8000 members,” I muse, “7000 of them women.” None of this is true, but all of it is rendered possible as we wait, wallflowers anew, for profiles and phone calls. This was supposed to hurdle me over my lost love, not make me miss him more. Stay tuned!

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