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As someone recently thrust, kicking if not screaming, into the ranks of relationship-challenged singles, the subject of dating is timely for me. Having never actively dated in Memphis, where I now live, I find myself on its mean streets of social intercourse.

Actually, I met my recent ex six years ago on a plane traveling from Las Vegas to Memphis where she lived and where I had a short layover on the way to my final destination of New Orleans. We dated long distance for about a year and a half until I finally bit the bullet and moved to Memphis to marry her. Suffice to say, when the end came I found myself at first truly uninterested in dating anyone, for any reason, I was that devastated. But, since I’m a healthy, heterosexual male my “natural” instincts began to reassert themselves (thank God) and I suddenly found myself in dire need of female companionship.

Thus, my Memphis quest began.

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Lest you think my needs were strictly physical, I was actually looking to meet someone because I was lonely for the nurturing attention and consideration I missed that only a genuinely caring and nice woman can provide.

Ah ... but where to find such a creature?

Therein, lies the rub, as dear old Willy Shakespeare had once famously written. Where was one to look for said companionship? Not at work ... I work as a published freelance writer and filmmaker from the solitude of my own home. I also worked part-time before and just after my divorce in the high tech field as a Mobile phone music software developer. I rarely see the inside of a real corporate environment.

In any case, it’s always dicey and potentially litigious to date someone with whom you work. Anyway, I spend more face time with my computer and telephone than any three telecommunications CEOs, combined.

So…nothing there.

Hmmmm ... one might say, based on my technical background and expertise, that perhaps I should patronize one of the many online relationship-oriented websites like Match.com, Yahoo Singles, Chemistry.com, SinglesNet, eHarmony, PerfectMatch.com (Hah!), Lavalife, and my favorite... the ironically named online dating service—PlentyofFish.com.

Been there ... done that ... refused to buy the damn t-shirt.

A note: the only thing of value offered by PlentyofFish was its price—free! Which only suggested to me that the 1 million (give or take) purported members of the big Fish were doubtless déclassé cheapskates, further suggesting that the membership probably consisted mostly of men trying to get lucky on the cheap.

Ok! Let’s say the typical online dating services don’t pop your cork. You’re looking for something offbeat ... daring ... maybe even a little taboo. Well, there’s always the “alternative” dating sites. And I use the term “dating”, somewhat advisedly. For those of you who like your potential dating partners swathed in black leather studded vests and gaucho pants or form-fitting rubber latex jumpsuits replete with six-inch-heeled thigh-high boots and wearing rhinestone-studded dog collars, then perhaps sites like Alt.com, Bondage.com, AdultFriendFinders.com, Fetlife, etc., will positively jettison your corks.

What’s that you say? How could you possibly know about such things? Research, kiddies ... it’s all in the research. :)

But seriously, online dating comes with one HUGE caveat. The phrase “big fat lie” comes to mind. In my experience, where I had the experience, I found that most everyone’s profile, my own included (to a lesser degree, of course), was a pack of self-serving, ego-boosting, often truly audacious lies. And it’s easy to do, and even, in a sort of twisted kind of logic, the thing TO DO if you hoped to meet someone ... anyone, you might actually be attracted to, and vice versa—sad, but true. And while I’m not George Clooney, I’m not chopped liver, either.

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I could go on ad nauseam about this subject, but the fact is the chances of you meeting the love of your life online are slim indeed and potentially dangerous considering the sick, seething collection of wackos operating with near-impunity on the Internet.

Certainly, many of the more “traditional” dating sites claim any number of marriages as a result of meeting a partner online. But if one looks closely at the statistics, the figures are typically quite small compared to the number of people who are actually signed-up members of any given online dating service.

So ... conclusion ... a big fat zero there, as well … at least for me. So…back to the drawing board.

I’m past the age where I enjoy going to nightclubs or bars hoping to meet my “next great love.” I only attend clubs to watch live music or dance ... mostly Salsa if I can find it. Even when I was a nightly habitué of the club scene, wherever I lived, I never came close to meeting a woman I harbored thoughts of marrying, or even dating seriously. For purposes of engaging in the horizontal mambo ... yes (Told you I liked dancing). But dating with an eye to marriage or a long-lasting relationship? Nah! Hasn’t happened yet! And, I’m sure nothing has changed ... here in Memphis, or anywhere else in this country, for that matter.  

So, where does that leave the lovelorn and libido-challenged?

Alright ... check this out. I have a buddy who met all three of his wives in the most unlikely of places ... if you’re a man, that is. In fact, it’s so obviously a perfect place to meet an eligible woman ... single or soon to be divorced, or thinking about divorce ...that one wonders why more men don’t cop to that fact and storm this bastion of daily American life… lol!

You’ll never guess! Ok ... maybe you did. And if you did, you said ... the grocery store! That’s right.

When most single men are making one of their infrequent forays into a real, live grocery store to replenish the odd foodstuffs and staples like Rice-a-Roni, Ginger Snap cookies, Budweiser Light by the case, crunchy-style peanut butter, maybe some Legos, Rotini, and Velveeta cheese (the dip goes great with your Bud), and Wonder white bread, they enter into a world populated primarily, even in this day and age, with women of all stripes, ages and shapes shopping for their families or for themselves. I’m talking grocery stores like Krogers or Schnucks (a now-defunct Memphis chain). You’ll find another male genus altogether shopping at Fresh Market, Whole Foods, or Trader Joe’s. Typically, though not always. (Just CMA ... lol.)

I'll speak more about my own personal experience in my next post. Sometime in the near future.

Ciao! And remember what author, Ramtha, said in his book That Elixir Called Love—“Love is a many-splendored thing.” Hmmm ... or was that “splintered?”

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