Gather around, children! Put on your swimming suits and join me in the hot tub for a historic tale of love on the internet (or Information Highway as we called it back when all this takes place). Plant has subtly requested that I share my story of how I met my wife via online dating. It’s taken me a while, but here’s the story.
It was the fall of 1995. I was almost out of college, and this cool and hip new magazine Wired ran a story about a web site called Match.com that was giving out free lifetime charter memberships. I had been through an ugly relationship at the beginning of college, and hadn’t seriously dated in a couple of years. The idea of screening womenfolk without having to be shot down in person was immediately tempting, so I turned on my computer, waited a few minutes for it to boot, opened up my PPP control panel and dialed up the U of M’s modem pool to get online. Before long I was connected to Match.com and somewhere between 33.6kbps and 56kbps, depending on what modem I had at the time and if I was lucky enough to get on one of the fast lines.
I set up and account and filled in my info. As I recall, I spent most of my time perusing the other user’s profiles, sending a message or two, and mostly not hearing from people. I still had a social life IRL, still being in school, so I split my time doing things with people I knew and mostly not getting anywhere on Match.com.
Fast forward a year. The end of 1996. College is done, and Match.com still hasn’t really panned out. By now I’m in an apartment with some friends from school, and I go out now and then with girls but still nothing really sticks. I pass my time surfing the internet on a full-speed 56kbps connection, watching Xena with my roommates, and playing Myst on my computer, in addition to working.
Another year goes by, and it’s almost 1998. By now I’m living on the other side of town (closer to work) in my own apartment. Still rocking 56k, but now I spend weekends watching MST3K with some buddies from work who live close. I’ve met some girls via Match.com, usually a year or two younger, but nothing works out to anything other than friendship. Up to this point all Match.com has done for me is make some friends (which was OK at the time).
And then my birthday rolls around in 1998. Nothing actually happened on my birthday, although by that time I was fully healed from getting all 4 of my wisdom teeth out. But shortly after this time is when I came across the profile of ZukeyKitty. I wasn’t sure what the Zukey part was, I initially thought it had to do with the nickname of Godzilla in the old 80s cartoon, but in hindsight I know that to be incorrect. Her friend had demanded that she set up a profile, because as he said, “We have to find you a man!” (this may or may not be what he actually said, but popular lore says it’s true).
I send this interesting-sounding ZukeyKitty a message, and we wrote back and for a bit. Slowly at first, but more and more, and finally changing to direct email conversations, rather than Match.com’s messaging. This was back when people usually used their work emails for everything, because most people only had email at work. I wonder if the IT people there were monitoring our conversations.
This ZukeyKitty I’d met had just bought a house, and when we finally progressed to phone call stage I would usually call her when she was in the middle of unpacking. But we persevered, and after a few months we decided to actually meet. In a fit of Bad Internet Dating Safety, she drove out to my apartment to meet me alone. Lucky for her I wasn’t some weirdo (although my initial impression could have been better, since I was wearing a shirt with the decoration worn off to the point of almost invisible, but I was dead-sure that it had always been like that - distressed-retro-cool before it was retro or cool, I guess).
We went for a walk, watched some World’s Strongest Man competition on TV, and then went out for dinner (which is why we go to Perkins in June every year). Against all odds, she kept talking to me. After that, we continued seeing each other, going rollerblading together, spending weekends together, and then about a year after I bought my grandparent’s house, I proposed after a fancy pancake dinner in November of 2000. Oh, and by this time I think I was up to 640kbps DSL, and I only had to call the phone company once every 4 or 5 months to deal with some service issue.
The next year was the annoyance called “planning a wedding”, and we were married on September 1, 2001.
Alright everyone, wake up. It’s wrap-up time! What are the takeaways from this?
- I joined Match.com at the end of 1995. I didn’t meet my wife until almost 3 years later. I met a lot of people, but most weren’t right for me. I still made friends, but it wasn’t an instantaneous victory.
- Don’t be a jerk. I heard lots of stories about the guys who send messages to my wife other than me. Ones that particularly stand out are the guy who said he looked at her profile picture and though that, “she looked like she needed to be spanked.” And there was the guy who said he was a prince, and that he wanted to make her his princess. These people were met with either a big, “Ewww!” or were laughed off. Or both. They always say to be who you are, and maybe that’s who those people really were; in that case, it worked out right, because she wasn’t interested in them.
- I had it easy - my membership was free. I never had to have the anxiety of, “Geez, it’s been 2 years and this stupid membership hasn’t gotten me a woman yet!” YMMV.
- I got lucky. I was in the right place at the right time to find the person who was right for me.
So there’s the whole story, more or less. And to answer the impending question, I don’t know if my account is still valid. The email address I used with it is long inaccessible, and I don’t remember my username or password. I turned off their incessant emails before we even got engaged, because I wasn’t interested in finding anyone else. So anyone looking for a free account to take over will have to look elsewhere.
Feel free to ask any questions, if anyone got this far. I might even remember answers!
Ok, everyone out of the hot tub. And Plant, I’m pretty sure you peed in here, so you get to balance the chemistry.
* All facts are true to the best ability of the author. Mistakes are unintentional and likely the result of dementia, and are not meant to mislead the reader.