Girl Talk: Placing A Personal Ad (Almost) Ruined My Will To Date

When I was offered the opportunity to be one of “New York’s Most Eligible Bachelorettes” in a major local magazine, I laughed out loud. “There’s no way I will ever meet a guy that way,” I complained to my friends. “Why even bother? I already meet tons of guys. They just all suck. Plus, I’m happy alone.” After much coaxing, I decided my friends were right. I couldn’t turn down a professional photo shoot or an opportunity to get as close as I ever would to my fantasy of becoming the next “Bachelorette.” If only I liked to wear bikinis and go bungee-jumping, maybe ABC would consider me for the series.When I arrived windblown and disheveled at my big “professional” photo shoot, there was no makeup artist or stylist on hand to help me tame my frizzy hair or fix my smudged mascara as I had imagined. There was just a shy female photographer who asked me, “What do you want to do?” I responded with: “Can I show a nipple?” She politely chuckled at my attempt at humor and tugged at her flannel shirt uncomfortably. I settled on some shots of me awkwardly smiling and just prayed for the best. At least I’ll look worse than I normally do and all of my so-called suitors will be pleasantly surprised when we meet in person. Ha!

I’m not normally an insecure person, but my anxiety about outing myself publicly as “a single ready to mingle” was really bugging me out. I woke up in the middle of the night, sweating in a panic, imagining every guy I’ve ever dated spotting me looking awful in the magazine and laughing about how glad they were to be rid of me. How did I answer those questions that the magazine asked? What if I didn’t seem hip or funny enough? What if the 50 other women chosen for the piece were 23-year-old models and I seemed like a fat, old spinster? Worse yet … what if no one responded to my ad at all? What had I done?

The first 24 hours after the feature came out (five days before my 31st birthday) I wanted to hide under my bed. While the picture wasn’t the worst of my life, it certainly wasn’t cute — my legs look deformed in my tights and I was overexposed with white light. Even worse, the editors had cut out all of my jokes in favor of word economy, leaving me sounding like a nun. My mom had forwarded it to all of her friends, so the entire Jewish network knew I was on the market, and (the cherry on top) not a single person had responded … yet. This might even be worse than I thought!

The first response, which rolled in on the evening of day two, was from Gaston*, a man from out of state seeking “conversation and a Green card.” How do they always find me? On day three there were more: a college professor who described in detail his sexcapade with a Penelope Cruz look-alike in Prague, an unemployed 22-year-old, and a man who liked “my broad smile” and offered to bring me “croissants from the boulangerie in bed.” Creepy! Day four the responses poured in. I heard from a burnt-out ex-rocker, a Russian gangster, a magician (could he could make my personal ad disappear?), an obese Harley Davidson fanatic covered in tats, and a 20-year-old who used no punctuation or spaces whatsoever and sent a pic of himself naked in the bathroom (he responded twice, thinking I was two different girls — Amy and Jen) – and these were just the greatest hits of day three.

After receiving a total of 30 responses by day four, I couldn’t wait to tell everyone who would listen that this ad had destroyed whatever little bit of faith in mankind I had left. I was delusional for agreeing to do this. I was better off before the ad! This crap only made me feel worse!

As the snow began to fall on the morning of day five (my 31st birthday), I decided I must stop the insanity. Screw the personal ad and screw dating. If this is all that’s out there, then I choose a life of cloistered celibacy. No more trying to make things happen. No more will or effort or experiments or putting myself out there. No more expectations. No more fixin’ things that ain’t broke. With renewed vigor, I opened my personalized dating inbox one last time to disable it and found response number 31 waiting for me.

Hi Ami,

I live in the city and am working on my PhD in physics and teaching at a local University. I love what I do and work on it passionately, sometimes I don’t give enough attention to other parts of my life: like finding someone who makes me smile when I think of them. So, I saw your picture and really liked what you wrote. I decided to clear my desk and my mind and try to write something honest, funny and convincing.

When I’m not working or teaching, I’m probably listening to live music, running, watching a movie, or planning my comeback as a classical guitarist (have been planning this comeback for years now).

Do I need to attach references from ex-girlfriends?

Hope to hear from you,
Michael*

Could it be? A normal guy? But more than normal … he sounded kind of awesome. And he was hot. Don’t tell anyone I’m admitting this, but Michael was exactly the kind of guy I had secretly hoped to hear from. Mustering up some small reserve of courage I didn’t know I had, while remaining appropriately skeptical, I decided I would reply. Stay tuned …

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