My Uncle Saulie is like 47. Recently divorced. One day he decides to (because a bunch of his female co-workers told him he had to) put up a dating profile on dateherding.com. I remember sitting with him the day he first went online to check it out. He was beside himself, to say the least. “Look at this broad!” he was basically shouting. (The toggle switch for the guy’s voice volume was busted and perennially stuck on ‘rock concert’.) “This one: ‘I’m a funny, witty, adventurous, outgoing and easy to be around.’ Oh, ever pad a resume? Ever proofread a sentence? And this: ‘My friends would describe me as a kind and loving person.’ Jesus Jim Caviezel Christ, it’s the same thing! Didn’t anybody ever tell these broads they gotta sell the sizzle! Sizzle!! And this, what…: ‘Looking for an intentional co-creator who can peel away the layers of conditioning, loving them into compost to be available to all that is waiting to bloom’? What is that? I don’t even know what that means! What does that mean?!”
My uncle is a Bessarabian Jew from Moldova who grew up in what is now Transnistria of the former Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic. No, really. His family later emigrated to upstate New York, and he eventually went to Syracuse and came out with a Ph.D. in astrophysics.
The man is no dummy. And though it was too much devotion to the Engraved Hourglass Nebula and not enough to his own wife’s figure (and more attention to the Van Allen Belt than his own waistline) that pretty much spurred his divorce, he also had his own take on the time the two were together. Which really gave him a clear perspective on the silly, formal dance that is all of Relationship.
As I said: No dummy. And preternaturally keen, like dolphins playing nose soccer with a school of sea bass. Or like a bunch of bats partying over a lake of standing water in Canada in July.
Seriously, for having been married for like fifteen years, the guy’s dating radar was off the charts.
“Look! This one’s making a kissy face. And this one! Who are they kissing? Me? They don’t even know me! Some stranger, then? Their ex-boyfriend? The mirror? What’s she projecting: that the first thing anyone’s gonna notice about her is something manufactured to be deliberately sexual? But she’s on here looking for a serious relationship it says!”
“You have to put your best picture up as your number one picture,” I said. “It’s the one that’s gonna make someone click on your profile.”
“All my pictures are pictures of me. You’re telling me I gotta find the best one?”
“That’s what they want. They want to see you looking your best.”
“Why? So everything after that will be a disappointment? They obviously don’t do it. Look—this one tries to make herself look skinny. Watch.” He clicked on the woman’s profile and she suddenly gained forty pounds in all her other pictures. He started scrolling down. “And this broad—not a wrinkle on her face. At 41? In a photograph? Based on lens convexity, the sensor, the lighting, the focal…what the hell? Why does this one look like she’s a cartoon?”
“It’s a filter they run their pictures through.”
“You’re looking for a real relationship, with a real man, and you make yourself look like a cartoon?”
So, this was actually great. In a moment of sitting with my uncle, he was, without trying, turning the theoretical and statistically-leaning dynamics inherently found in early male and female relationships and interactions, in Western culture, totally on its head. Well, at least in online dating sites.
Internet dating is highly structured toward women. No doubt it’s for everyone, but women, by far, the get the majority of inquiries and have reported to feel so overwhelmed as to suspend their accounts, not only from the absolute volume of messages, but from men being aggressively inquisitive and sometimes downright mean.
But there’s also the other side, where, if you read a blog or Facebook posts by women who’ve done a considerable amount of internet dating, certain parts of themselves that would only be evident after months and months of dating become patently so. Judgment. A lot of it. Pickiness. Nit-pickiness. Seeing signals that aren’t really there. Reaction. Snark. Attitude. And it’s downright mean, in turn.
And I’ve seen it. My friend Bethany and her unconscionable Instagram influencer friend Sigglin have also admitted to it. So have the writers of those blogs I was talking about.
While all the men are trying to do—well, the majority of them—is find a date.
While not what I would call an attractive man, or even a handsome man, or even an appealing man, or even a likable man, Uncle Saulie had nothing to lose and was suddenly becoming, without even trying or caring to, an unassailable object of desire.
And he was doing it by using his intelligence—doing his research now and, later, by writing up and presenting what he had learned and, most importantly, persuading people to get on his side.
Plus, he had a really great job where he made tons of cash. In his age bracket, he was what was called a “catch.” Even if he was the human/piscine physical equivalent of an ocean sunfish. “A baby fuckin’ wheel, bro! Jay, I think the fuckin’ thing is dead. That’s some good meat on that fish, kid.” You ever seen that video? It should in the National Archives by now. If not, you can probably catch it on YouTube.
Plus, and I think most importantly, the guy was fucking honest. The most honest person I’d met in my entire life.
In his age bracket, he was what was called a “catch.” Even if he was the human/piscine physical equivalent of an ocean sunfish. “A baby fuckin’ wheel, bro! Jay, I think the fuckin’ thing is dead. That’s some good meat on that fish, kid.” You ever seen that video? It should in the National Archives by now. If not, you can probably catch it on YouTube.
He wasn’t one of these guys looking to play the numbers, to talk to as many women as he could knowing the more that he did, the greater his chances were for meeting someone. He was using a more-or-less scientific approach to wade through all the bullshit and get to the likely truth of it all.
The truth, as in all of science, being the ultimate prize: devising the formula, or honing the long-standing theory down to the point of virtual irrefutability. And, in this case, landing the ideal woman he found most attractive who would possibly give him the time of day.
I mean, even the smartest scientists do their research a single field. They don’t go after everything.
“Look at this, look at this! This is the fifth broad who’s put for their bucket list: ‘fall in love, change someone’s life for the better, go on a wine tour in Napa, see the Northern Lights, travel through Europe, go on a road trip, ride in a hot air balloon, go sky diving’. Are they copy-and-pasting that?”
“Are you gonna write up something about yourself?” I said to him.
“Yeah. I think I’ve seen enough nonsense on here to put one of these silly things together.”
And so, without further ado, here it is, the most perfectly best dating profile in the history all the internet:
* * *
(They started out making him answer at least three questions of his choosing:)
I spend a lot of time thinking about
what a nut crusher, a reamer, a butt gauge, a carpet stretcher & a jerkin head are. Plus, girder erection.
If I had an extra hour in the day, I would
You mean every day? Sell it.
If I didn’t have to work, this is what I would be doing
Running a junkyard with my son, Lamont.
(Then, they let him talk:)
I just got out of a divorce. I have no idea how this is gonna sound. But this is my life:
Argument is utility. It’s a logical means to a end.
Fitness is in the eye of the beholder. Inactivity is just as important as activity, only in greater measure.
Anger is a natural human emotion. Self-awareness and dialogue keep it that way, and prevent it from being used like a machete. Fear is also natural. Everyone possesses it, unstereotyped; sometimes it’s hard to see. There are no cowards. Only the lazy or misguided.
I tend to treat people I first meet like I’ve known them my entire life.
Novelty is essential for the health of the human brain. So is repetition, which is the foundation of comfort.
I never refuse to try something without thinking first, and I never take too long to think.
That being said, doing something that scares you every day is a marketing ploy and will shorten your lifespan.
Dark chocolate tastes like mud. But I’d rather eat mud, because mud tastes better. Otherwise, I like almost all food. As long as it doesn’t leave me wanting more when I’m done with it. I also cook a lot. Sometimes for other people.
Television irritates me. I also like to know the end of a book or movie before I begin reading or watching it. It helps me to follow it better.
I’m not satisfied with half-assed answers to the reasons for things. This upsets people who just want to shut me up.
I don’t make my problems other people’s problems. Nor do I glorify. Partnerships aren’t a chair-raising Jewish horah. They’re partnerships.
Personality is developed through life experience, not in a classroom. Listening has provided me with more information about the world than anything I’ve ever read in a book. Except maybe The Jungle Book.
I don’t regret any of my life decisions. The arrow of time moves only in one direction. The key is to learn from the mistakes.
Bad luck isn’t the source of all bad luck in the world. Stupidity is.
Stacked beside the rigors of linear algebra, most everything in life seems simple.
As for what I’m looking for: I don’t treat partners like my personal grocery list. Talking about what I demand in a partner at any one given moment, and then in the same breath saying I want someone who needs to be continually growing and learning is an error in reasoning. The two cancel each other out. I do, however, prefer the latter.
I would hope to meet someone who likes me more or less as much as I like them, with a small enough margin of error.
As you can maybe tell, I’m a scientist. Who does math for a living.
Ultimately, outside of this, I can’t genuinely—or generally—summarize myself fairly. As a human being with a massively developed cerebral cortex, complexities of decision-making, perception, memory and the burden of a sense of agency are what hold me together. There’s just too much to it.
That being said, I’m really half an imbecile most of the time. But it’s totally intentional.
* * *
“Jesus, Saulie, how’d you pull all that off?”
“You came up with all that from reading people’s profiles?”
“Why don’t you show this to Donna?” (Donna’s his ex-wife.)
“You can’t whip a dead horse.”
“You get any responses yet?”
“You gonna write them back?”
“Nah. Doing the thing was enough.”
“Wait, you mean ‘nah’ you’re not going to write them back, or ‘nah’ you were kidding about not wanting to write them back?”
“Eh, who can say these days?”