Looking for love is a journey. For the very young, that can be a quick trip, thanks to a huge pool of possibilities. For the rest of us, it's more like an expedition, with lots of baggage to lug around.
My itinerary included a stop at an online dating superstore. One particular "match" remains unforgettable — despite the passage of time and an eventual long-term relationship with a great woman.
After an initial digital encounter and a bit of back and forth via the dating site, we exchanged phone numbers and agreed to meet.
Our first date in a Pasadena restaurant was a little awkward. I tried to focus on our conversation, but her other, more obvious qualities — those most prized by the shallow, superficial man — were distracting. She was very attractive, very smart and, from the look of things, financially very comfortable — a serious triple threat, so much so that I wondered if I was even in the right league from the get-go.
But I kept it together and applied myself to getting to know her.
She had a big-time government job and an accomplished physician father who raced sailboats and christened his favorite with her name. She volunteered at KCRW-FM. I held my own with stories about the big newspaper where I worked and the best beaches in Costa Rica, providing enough humor to make her smile. Often. Which, of course, just melted me.
We had a drink or two at the bar and then moved to a table, had dinner and laughed a lot. There was plenty of terrain to cover but no hurry to cover it all during our first encounter. She was interesting and interested — all you could ask in a first date.
Winding down a first date, though, is always tricky. As I struggled to come up with something clever to say, she announced suddenly, "I think we should do this again."
I couldn't have said it better myself, and probably wouldn't have.
For the next few days, I tried not to give in to my urgency to call her. We both were pretty busy, I told myself, and I was able to get her out of my mind enough to at least function.
Finally, after some more witty email and a phone call, we got together again. She was a dancer and loved the arts, so we punched our ticket at a few galleries.
Talking about art is the Rorschach inkblot of conversation. You never know what's going to pop into your head when you look at a painting. But I did my best to keep up and even worked in some lame art humor I'd overheard at an opening in Santa Monica.
We had a late lunch/early dinner, and things went well. There was a lot to like, and I felt there was definitely some chemistry between us. A long spell of overcast and fog seemed to be clearing. The sun was peeking through.
But that was it.
I never saw her again.
Phone calls and emails went nowhere. I checked to see that my voice mail was still working. I checked with my Internet provider. I replayed the tapes in my head to see if I'd forgotten that she told me she was going to Iceland or Patagonia or somewhere.
No. She'd just dropped off the radar.
Finally, after a couple of weeks, an email landed in my inbox. It started off with the three words no one likes to hear from a potential love interest, "I'm sorry but …"
Everyone knows dating can be brutal. There is no standard set of rules and regulations that governs the process, especially online dating, with its skewed playing field. The game is never over because it never runs out of players making newer and more spectacular plays.
I decided to read the rest of the email anyway, bracing for the brushoff. But this was no ordinary rejection. I was kicked clear out of the gene pool.
With what seemed genuine sincerity, she apologized for not getting back to me. She said she had been trying for a very long time to find the right person to love because she really wanted to have a child. But she just hadn't found that person.
She wasn't with someone else, she wrote. She was pregnant, and had just found out. And was very happy about it.
Her journey ended, apparently, with conception. The timeline and insufficient, viable physical contact meant I played no role in the transaction.
I was honored to be a part of her donor search, I guess, but clearly I wasn't her type — or her child's.
Moody is a Los Angeles Times editorial artist.
L.A. Affairs chronicles romance and relationships. Past columns are archived at latimes.com/laaffairs. If you have comments to share or a story to tell, write us at firstname.lastname@example.org.