Online love does exist

Roxanne Sadovsky

How’s about we begin with the punch line? A good man is hard to find. Cutting to the fairy tale ending: I found one.

And now, the story: I have always wanted to write the great American love column. I longed to disclose mushy details about how love really was like the movies and how all it took was a romantic setting in the tropics. Unfortunately, as we all know, you can’t believe everything you see in beer commercials. Admittedly, in fact, I was fairly warped from growing up in L.A., raised by television. My hand was more often held by the remote than those of my parents. I went to Lucy and Ricky for love and acceptance, not my friends or teachers. The Bradys were the extended family I liked to hang out with instead of my delinquent friends. I based my entire sense of romantic love on “The Young and the Restless” and “Heart to Heart,” even though my parents were divorced, as were all the other families in our cozy So-Cal latchkey neighborhood.

It makes sense that years later my love life followed a pattern of chasing the unobtainable. Since college, I dated more men than there are brands of diet pop. I grew skeptical after a marriage, jaded after a breakup, and finally, scientific in my approach to the mythology of love, regarding it as nothing more than a socially acceptable mythology to justify our need to play like rabbits.

After an unsuccessful streak at playing download-a-date, I decided to leave the cyber-cocktail party known as online dating, being that it goes against everything I value most. Instead, I decided to go back to the happy fantasy life in my head, admitting that it would be a nice, lonely life. With that in mind, I told myself I would look one last time, “just for fun,” having likened the online hunt to playing the nickel slots at Reno.

Suffice it to say, this is not a story about the hidden virtues of picking one’s mate as they would items on eBay. From the virtual experience I have concluded only that sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, which is what most folks have touted all along. In my case, it’s fair to say it is working, but who knows in the long run? What I do know is that as soon as I brought up “David’s” profile, I experienced what I now cheesily refer to as “love at first site,” much to David’s dismay. No, I can’t explain it, nor can I justify it. All I can say is that for the first time in my life I behaved in ways that I would normally consider unacceptable: for starters, saving his profile to my desktop so I could caress the screen.

What struck me first about him were his eyes. I know that sounds cliché, but there is a rare quality to eyes these days because most of them are busy darting and dodging. David’s eyes lingered. They didn’t stare, mind you, but rather they quizzed and opened, revealing the difference between, say, bread and sliced bread. Of course this kind of thing is difficult to explain with any modicum of eloquence, but my best shot goes like this: There is a certain lift to his eyes, a gentle cross between curiosity and understanding, a statement that in translation would say, “I have no idea what you are about to say, but I really would like to know, and I will wait in patient amusement until you do speak.” This kind of eye-heart coordination cannot be faked. David has that.

While I could detail the intricacies of our schmaltzy connection, I think it really might sicken the skeptics. What I will say is this: David is not who I thought I would date. David is not like me at all. He is reserved, whereas I straddle mania and obnoxia. David does not love Air Supply the same way I do, and David is never going to sing aloud in public. David will not laugh at all of my puns, nor will he even notice every single time I write a column. He won’t be responsible for assuring me that I am not fat. It might take years before I look across a crowded room and catch him looking at me, deeply moved, “movie moved.”

What David is, though, is so many things. Beautiful things. Like, there are the times when we cannot let go of each other; we move from the couch to the kitchen, pausing at the stool along the way as though one of us was off to war. There are the times we lay around Saturday afternoons in each other’s arms talking about how we need to go out and actually do something. There are the times when we take up to three hours to eat dinner because we are laughing so hard we cannot chew. But mostly, despite the warm and self-indulgent fuzzies that come from the reassuring feel of flesh on flesh, there is the integrity of David. There is the humble, and there is the willingness to admit the humility. There is the fearless and the afraid, but most of all there is the honesty of what happens when the two collide. There is an understanding that life is short, connection is sacred and life’s game is best played if your teammate knows how to have fun and take time to rest in the shade.

Still, love is perfect and the world is not. We both have issues. We both still want unconditional love from our parents. We struggle to adapt to a world that makes no sense because it reveres things like Snapple. For whatever reason, no matter how many fields of grass we run through, we will still experience emptiness. We will still experience stuck-ness and numbness. Inevitably, we will question our dedication to one another, demand that friends tell us if this is or is not “the one.” In my case, I will call my brother and ask if it means I subconsciously want to marry my dad because on our last date David pulled up in his Volvo and the radio was tuned to the classical station. I will ask him if the family will judge me for marrying, again, outside of the faith, for sacrificing the material for the majestic.

On one of our first dates, David showed up with a mango because he knew how much I love them. He just set it on the kitchen table without saying anything, as though he should always bring me tropical delicacies. While the giving of gifts is certainly a given in the first few months of dating, we are well aware that the honeymoon ends. We know it is possible that in the real world, “we” will end too.

But we also know that no one is keeping score, or really, no one is watching. If so, they will catch us off guard like that couple in Lutzen who skied over to us on the trail and asked if they could take our picture because of how cute we are, how perfectly matched. Fine, we were wearing matching mouse-ears hats, but if that ain’t knowing someone, I don’t know what is.

Roxanne Sadovsky’s biweekly column appears alternate Thursdays. Send letters to the editor to [email protected]