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Waiting For Mr. Write

Finding Mr. Write

As much as I enjoy updating my Facebook status, texting and the digital age, I must admit that I really miss the good old written word. Not necessarily in book form – my library card gets plenty of action (at least one of us does, right?). I’m old enough that when I first forayed into the dating world, there was no email – just phone calls and good old-fashioned snail mail. I had a fair number of long-distance relationships that relied completely on the USPS…sometimes even overseas. I really enjoyed letter-writing (still do, as a matter of fact), and I remember the leap of my heart every time correspondence from a paramour arrived in my mailbox.

I had a boyfriend who went to college in New Jersey when I was up near Boston. He was an English major and wrote me poetry. I dated a guy who moved from Boston to New York and sent me cards on a regular basis. My post-college love and I spent a whole summer away from each other – he doing theatre in New Hampshire, and me working in Barcelona. We had three phone calls the whole summer and communicated almost entirely via flimsy airmail paper. My ex-husband and I spent a summer apart and wrote each other every single day.

More than a few years ago my mother decided to clean out the attic (anyone want an extra bed-in-a-bag?) and she gave me bags containing all these letters. I was still married at the time so I stuck the bags in the back of my closet. One day when my ex was at work and my son was napping, I sat on the floor of my bedroom and read each and every letter. My entire love life was more or less documented in writing. It was really quite amazing. And thrilling, too. I had forgotten the details of these past relationships and it was quite a charge to remember that there were men (boys, too) who thought charming, romantic – and sometimes rather lascivious – thoughts about me. After I read the letters (and resisted the urge to Google the ghosts of love life past), I threw them all away. I thought, “I’m married and I have letters that lead up to this point in my life. No need to save these all.” Someone please beat me with a stick right now.

Since I delved into the dating world three years ago, I have yet to receive a letter. Flirty emails? Definitely. Sexting? Perhaps. Maybe a birthday card or two, but that’s about it. It’s okay – I understand that pressing “send” is a hell of a lot easier than buying stamps. I do the same thing myself. I don’t necessarily need a tangible love letter. It would be nice, but it certainly ain’t a deal breaker. As much as I value the written word, I am fine getting my fill of good writing from books, magazines, the newspaper, blogs, and even my son’s poems (just how many times can you use the word “big” in a haiku about the Guggenheim?).

I do, however, have one request.

Are good grammar and punctuation too much to ask?

Now that I am online dating, I have turned into a complete snob. Seriously. Don’t these men have spell check? Is it so hard to capitalize the name of your favorite movie? I understand that email communication is different – speed and time are of the utmost factor. However, if you are creating an online profile, don’t you want to put your best foot – or, at the very least, some punctuation — forward? Were you in such a rush to plunge into the dating world that you forgot to make sure your name was spelled correctly? (I highly doubt that some parents in 1967 named their son “Jonh”.) I double-check everything I write to make sure it looks and sounds good. Oh, and the reading snob rears her ugly head here, too – just a little bit. There are men who when asked, “What is the last book you read?” simply reply, “I don’t really read.” (And you’re lucky if the apostrophe is even there.) Bye bye.

A few summers ago I was emailing back and forth with this guy who already had the makings of a complete geek (MS in Physics from MIT and an alum of the school’s fencing team) – so I was already halfway to swoon. He once misspelled a word in an email and then thirty seconds later sent me an email to apologize for the misspelling. Seriously. The last email he sent before we met contained the sentence, “I’m looking forward to seeing you, too.” I stared at the screen in shock. Had he just actually written that? I picked up the phone and called my sister. “Guess what he wrote? He typed a comma before the ‘too.’ Nobody does that anymore. I think I might be in love.”

She called me a freak and hung up on me.

In defense of myself, it’s not even perfectly scripted emails that I am seeking. Just a little effort. That’s not too much to ask, right? I was online one night and a guy IM’ed me, “Wassup?” You’ve got to be kidding me, honey – do I look like I’m in a beer commercial? After the Naked photo shoot in Time Out New York was published I received upwards of sixty emails. I replied to a few of them – guys who use periods and commas and are able to communicate their thoughts without relying completely on exclamation points. (Sorry, mister — you who sent a photo with a red and white-striped sock covering…well, certainly not your foot. You would have been voted off the island even if you had written me a sonnet.)

I recently received some very good advice. Someone told me to stop looking so hard. “Be a sunflower,” she counseled, “show the world how amazing you are and let them come to you.” Granted, that’s easier said than done. I’m not a particularly patient person; however, I get the gist of what she was saying. As torturous as online dating can be, I appreciate the fact that sometimes you really get to know someone before you actually meet. So I’ll respond to his questions…even if he forgets to use a question mark. It might be difficult, but I have a feeling a good end result is just around the corner. I’m willing to sacrifice the easy way for the right (write?) way.

Author: Stacey Linden

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