Many of you read the first instalment of the “Fellow Filles” stories, which are based on other girls’ Parisian dating misadventures. In the first story, its romantic heroine Maude takes on the world of online dating. This inspired Clém., a French friend, and I to do a similar little experiment the other night leading to this second episode. Boy oh boy! We didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into … Was it sink or swim? Or get out of the shark-filled pool??
Operation T.M.I. Here it doesn’t stand for “too much information,” but in French, “Trouver le Mec Idéal” = Finding Mr. Perfect. The details of this “mission” have echoed off of glasses of wine whenever I’m out with my single friends. Alas, with age and modern life, it’s getting harder and harder these days to find decent candidates to go out with. We keep tossing around ideas on how/when/where to best succeed at T.M.I.-ing, but the project hadn’t really taken off. This was probably because our little group of T.M.I.-ers has been gradually dwindling: the Countess has possibly found Mr. Close to Perfect; the wonderful but perpetually single Amina might have met Mr. Fabuleux (right before she moved to another city); and Pussycat’s boyfriend found a job and stayed in Paris, thus cancelling her out from any such mission … this left Clém. and I. Well, my situation was and is still very unclear, so when Clém. was lamenting about the lack of T.M.I.-ing a few weeks ago, we slowly started re-plotting… I thought I could at least help her potentially advance in the matter while I tried to clear the fog from my romantic landscape.
Our first new T.M.I. attempt was a complete failure. A Saturday night about a month ago, we planned to go out for drinks in the trendy Canal Saint Martin area; we could surely flirt with some beaux mecs over there. We met up early at a hip pizza place, nourishing our bellies and outlining our plans of attack. The idea was to go to this large, ultra-cool bar. Enthusiastically rounding the corner, our project was thwarted by a massive line to get into the place. A quick desperate glance exchanged was all we needed to head across the canal to a different line-less bar. Woe was us! A few more glasses of wine didn’t help us find romantic interests, but we did come up with some fresh ideas on how to kick-start our mission. This brought us to the “where” question of our T.M.I. search. If bars were not the ideal venues … what option was next? Would the Internet provide greener grazing pastures? We hemmed and hawed for a few weeks and actually gave ourselves a possible start date of May 10th, but then Clém. emailed the other day, suggesting we start brainstorming before this date, so mostly out of solidarity to her, I said come on over and we’ll investigate! We got fueled up with some nibbles and wine, and then eagerly flipped open my computer.
There are many, many dating sites out there; however, there is this French one that is “supposed” to be on the cooler side. We even have friends who’ve found their mec idéal via this site, so I keyed in the address and thus opened the gateway into a whole new (dating) world. All we wanted to do was “have a look”—to see if it was indeed worth our while. But in order to really see anything or understand how it works, you have to create a profile. It said it only took a minute. I looked over at Clém.; a little glint of mischief shined in her eyes. What would it hurt to invent a little profile for our experiment? Okay, it took more than one minute in our case as we had to open a new gmail account, decide on her age, appearance and interests, and lastly, dig up a photo (a mysterious shot of the back of my head with an up-do). We plugged in these few basics, chose our style as bohemian/pin-up, and with that we were on our giggly way, perusing the not so bad at all hommes that came up from our search.
Was there a manual out there for this? A “How To” guide? We had absolutely no idea what was in store— “in store” for real because before we knew it, we’d accidentally added a Mr. Sweet Guy to our “shopping cart” and he popped up in a chat window! Yikes! What were we supposed to say? Then, the screen kept flashing with all these “charms” from other guys. What was a charm? It sounded exciting, so we clicked on the little magic wand icon. Accepting a charm allowed the guys to chat or email with you … we found this out by accepting one from Mr. Mystère; we were too curious about this mysterious man not to accept, but in no time he was also emailing us via the site. On the fly, we had to invent questions and answers on behalf of our created persona. A new charm, and another, and another! The number of visits to our profile was also increasing at lightning speed! It was about then that we noticed a tally at the top of the screen, and there we saw our score rapidly rising with each new view or with each twinkle of the magic wand.
Soon another guy started chatting with us, Mr. Mystère sent us his real photo, and Mr. Sweet Guy was pouring his heart out to us! While thoroughly entertained (I haven’t laughed that hard in ages), Clém. and I realized we were in over our heads. The charms and visits kept coming in and this Mr. Sweet Guy was trying to set up a coffee date. This was fiery stuff! We logged off, needing to sleep on it before deciding what to do with the profile. Our intention was just to have a little look; we certainly didn’t want to play around with these determined daters.
The next day, Clém. and I pretty much agreed we had to shut down the account, though before that, we would send Mr. Sweet Guy a message saying we were closing up shop, but not because of him, good luck, etc. I went into our “inbox” to do this, yet I first noticed we had some new messages. The first was from the site’s administrative teamsters: our profile photo had been declined (they obviously didn’t have an appreciation for creativity!). The second message was from a cute guy whose profile we “visited” the previous night. He was rather attractive. Maybe we shouldn’t close down the account just yet … ? That thought lasted only an instant … time to read his message!
Dear Mlle XXX, I hope you haven’t been harassed by too many emails and charms? It’s a jungle in here! I prefer to say this in advance… I’m not looking for anything serious here (I am not talking about “one-shoot”)… sorry, I’m not telling you this to shock you, even if it could make me seem like a big jerk… but it’s just a little more honest. Soooo … was he saying that he was just looking for a little action? I had no idea what he meant by “one-shoot,” but I could certainly guess! My worst fears and impression of these sites might actually be true. And with that, I definitely didn’t feel bad about cancelling our account (though it was harder to figure out how to deactivate it than it was to set it up!). If we were going to ever do this for real, the online dating experiment certainly better prepared us on how to approach it … in the meantime, it was au revoir to this T.M.I. idea and back to the drawing board! P.S. French-speaking readers should check out this funny video, which is a good illustration of the experience!