the fall before last, two new activities coincided for me… i started dating again and i joined a jane austen book club. the first activity was pretty nerve wracking. i had tried to sign up for the bumble app many months before, but you can only use it on your phone and the writing was so small that i couldn’t see it and i closed it down. i had to get reading glasses a couple of years ago and i am still very upset about it. my entire family has worn glasses for decades and i was a bit vain about my unique 20/20 vision. i used to be able to see everything so clearly, even street signs blocks away - that was really helpful with my directional challenges - until i noticed that my texts were fuzzy in the mornings. i thought it was just because i am always tired (SLEEPING is something else i was really good at until the last few years and i am also pretty upset about that!) until i realized that my texts were fuzzy in the middle of the day too. so i finally went to an eye doctor (a place i had NEVER been before) and got checked. sure enough, i needed readers. i bought my first pair at the doctor’s office and they were expensive, which was a bummer. and they did not last long, as i fall asleep reading most evenings and they got mashed one night when i rolled over on them. now i just get them at the walgreens… between hank sneaking them into the backyard to gnaw on and me smashing them in my sleep (i frequently wake up with a dent in my forehead now, which is annoying when i have an early meeting because it typically takes a few hours to go away) they are pretty temporary possessions.
so i finally revisited the bumble only to find that i hadn’t actually closed down my account. bumble somehow works with facebook and pulls profile pictures from your fb page. at that point, i had obama as my profile picture (i had put him there on trump’s inauguration day) and bumble used him as my photo. embarrassed, i took obama down and closed my bumble account again. except i didn’t. this time bumble took the only remaining photo from my facebook account… a ten year old picture of me holding theo as a baby and used that as my photo. months later, when i got up the nerve to try it again, i made the horrifying discovery that my account had again remained open (clearly, i am not a techie.) this time, i enlisted the help of a more adept friend and properly set up my profile with recent pictures that did not include my children. in the meantime, i had collected a queue of “likes,” but bumble won’t tell you who they are unless you subscribe for $25 a month. after spending too much time going through the general population (you wouldn’t believe how many men post photos of themselves holding a big fish or standing on top of a mountain with their arms in the air or wearing very tight biking costumes) i decided it would be more efficient to pay the monthly subscription and start with the people in my “like” queue. so i did.
early the next morning i got an email from my first husband, “this is weird, but i just got charged for your bumble subscription. i will take it out of the monthly expenses.” it turns out that we are still on a family plan so we can both monitor our son’s phone activities and my first husband is in charge of the account. it took almost everything i had to sign up for that app and i have probably never been so mortified… although it WAS a little funny. soon after, i went down to the apple store to try and sort this situation out. i spent two hours working with a millennial. after apologizing for oversharing, i told him that apple needed to step it up and help out today’s complicated families. we tried having me leave the family plan AND bumble and then start bumble again with a new credit card and then join the family again, but in the end it still went back to my first husband’s card. so there really is no way to have a private account when you share a child… i must say, first husband has been really gracious about this.
my first two dates chose the same new restaurant… boulder is a REALLY small town. and my first husband called during one of them because he had taken our son to the barber down the street from this restaurant and seen my car. he wanted to know where i was and did i want to see theo’s hair… REALLY small town.
at this time, i was also immersed in the jane austen classics with my new book club and was struck at how virtually everything and nothing has changed in the dating world in two hundred years. i was raised by a pretty traditional father who regularly told me never to “call” or “chase” and i really never did. but on the bumble, the woman has to be the first one to leave a message… definitely out of my wheelhouse. at the same time, once the communication started, i was just like marianne waiting for willoughby to pop over and leave his calling card or a note, except i was waiting for a text or a phone call… super annoying.
what followed was about a million first dates… there was the sweaty architect, the tortured writer with three cats, the guy who explained frisbee golf in excruciating detail, the breakfast date who was shocked when i ordered bacon and eggs (he did too!) and asked me how i stayed so small, the laser salesman whose machines whip your blood around before it is re-injected into your face (i think the kardashians do this), the climber who put his coat on when i still had half a drink left and then stood up to LEAVE, the builder who was missing most of a FRONT TOOTH (i may be 50 now, but i think i still deserve a full set of teeth) the bathtub salesman who just irritated me and several others who only vaguely looked like their photos (i now only reach out to people in high resolution.) i didn’t go out with any of these people twice. and there were all the ones i just bumble texted with and never met for a date, like the guy who said he recently discovered he is really good at throwing machetes… that would only be compelling if you lived in the hunger games. i watch too much law and order to meet up with someone who is adept at throwing axes.
anyway, in jane austen’s world, the families all know each other or have close friends who can get the scoop on a potential beau. they spend hours and hours analyzing the integrity and character and dispositions of the candidates and don’t have to waste time with all of these poorly matched first dates. they go DEEP in jane austen… will his temperament complement yours? are his interests aligned? is he well mannered and properly brought up? what is his relationship with his mother? how does he conduct himself under duress? on bumble, i am just looking for high resolution smiles that include ALL the teeth and someone who mentions enjoying something indoors, beyond the hiking and biking and skiing and requisite boulder nature stuff.
then there are the neighbors that pop up in your queue. on some level, this should be comforting because i do know about these people (and whether they have all of their teeth), but i also typically know their first wives and WHY they are divorced and what their failings and foibles are. and that all feels a bit too close. so i am really at an impasse with the bumble. the strangers are too strange and the neighbors feel claustrophobic… what would jane do?
* my parents just celebrated their fifty-third anniversary, which is a bit of a shame because my dad has the perfect fish photo for a bumble profile…
my son does too… but i think he has to wait until he is eighteen to sign up.
** a bumble tragedy… bumble follows you around so when i came home to california for the holidays, bumble told me i had new “bees” in my “like" queue. i proceeded to peruse them with my son (inappropriate?) he LOVES looking at them all and weighing in… “that one is too old for you, mama. try that one, mama - he looks rich! ooh, that one has cute daughters - go out with him!” per usual, there were A LOT of frogs… and then there was one shining candidate that stuck out like a phoenix, rising up from the ashes of middle aged dating sadness. he practically had a halo and i think i heard angels singing as i scrolled through his adorable photos (NO fish, or sporty costumes or shirtless bathroom selfies) and read his sweet, straightforward bio. i have NEVER been excited to meet someone i’ve seen on bumble… at best, i think, “maybe…” but this one gave me hope. “brian” was in marin, but went to CU… i couldn’t really tell whether he lived in california or colorado and i honestly didn’t care, i was so excited. theo was too and grabbed the phone from me to get a better look. tragically, that grab (that i see in slow motion in my mind accompanied by a munchesque scream) swiped him LEFT and POOF he was gone… completely deleted. we were all a bit devastated, lucy saying, “THEO… that could have been my stepdad!” we even tried going through the gen pop to see if he was still in there, but there was no sign of him. sigh… what would jane do about THIS?