A few years ago I was lonely, bored, depressed and rarely left my bedroom. After too many white wines one night, I created a profile for myself on RSVP and sat back to watch my inbox fill with eligible young bachelors. One guy in particular sparked my interest. Let’s call him Gavin, because that was his name, and still is his name, assuming he hasn’t died.
Gavin and I exchanged a few emails and chatted on MSN. He was smart and funny, and looked cute in his profile picture.
I asked Gavin if he wanted to meet up for coffee. (Like I said – I was extremely single at this point in my life.) He agreed, but said I’d have to meet him in Penrith because that’s where he lived and he didn’t drive.
Alarm bells began to ring softly in my head, but I ignored them. Unlike today when a single spelling mistake can disqualify somebody, back then I was a lot more tolerant. I liked to think that I would never judge a person based on where they lived.
And so I made the long drive out west, found the shopping centre Gavin had nominated, and located the coffee shop he wished to meet at. It was closed, so I sat outside on a bench and watched the local ageing men walk past. Suddenly one of them stopped in front of me and asked, “Annik?”
I considered denying my identity, but I’d already hesitated too long and confirmed it. Gavin bore an uncanny resemblance to Mr Burns from The Simpsons. He was completely bald, hunched over, and had rotting teeth. He smelled like cheap cologne and was wearing a block-colour charcoal track suit. He embodied every physical Penrith cliche.
“The coffee shop’s closed,” I stammered.
“That’s okay, we can just go for a walk,” he replied.
We strolled slowly to the side of the carpark as he babbled awkwardly about a holiday he once took, I can’t even remember where, because my brain was busy going “JESUS FUCK I HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE.”
As we approached the road, I turned to Gavin and said, “You know what? I have to go.”
Then I walked over to my car and drove home.
When I got there, I had a text on my phone from Gavin saying, “Sorry if that was disappointing.”
I didn’t write back. I blocked him on MSN and changed my email address. I removed my profile from RSVP and showered thoroughly. Then I burst into tears.
Never before had I felt so incredibly shallow. I’d enjoyed conversing with somebody and exchanging stories, then as soon as I knew what they really looked like, I wanted nothing to do with them. I was a bitch and I was going to hell.
Later that night, I related my online-dating experience to a friend’s mother.
“Am I totally horrible?” I asked her when I had finished.
“God, no,” she replied, “You can’t fuck an ugly person.”