Sunday, November 28, 2010

My First (but By No Means Last) Experience with Online Dating - Part III

The story so far: I had just signed up at on online dating site, only to discover my prefrontal cortex, which is nominally in charge of my thinking, had turned the assignment over to another part of my anatomy.

"Boneriffic!" my dopamine-sensitive ventral tegmental area (VTA) was screaming. For the purposes of this essay, all you need to know about the VTA is that this is the part of my brain where my dick has a branch office. As you will recall, I had worked out a brilliant strategy of making an intelligent choice from a long list of very good looking active and intelligent women based on my "Simon Cowell eliminator" that had to do with the enigma of Einstein's iPod.

Trust me, it was a brilliant strategy.

Then I discovered that my prefrontal cortex is only capable of weighing and measuring, but not deciding. For that, it needs input from the emotional areas of the brain. Unfortunately, my amygdala - fear central - was in league with my hippocampus and other centers of ancient memory, cranking out malicious sound bites for the amusement of my inner mother.


Suddenly, I was that short skinny nerdy high school kid with glasses at my first high school dance, on the gymnasium floor, Bobby Vinton's "Blue Velvet" crackling out of a crappy PA system, trying to summon the nerve to ask Marie Kapinsky to dance.

"Loser!" my prefrontal cortex concurred, with unassailable prosecutorial authority. The brief it had assembled was bullet-proof. The men these women date, the thinking part of my brain reminded me, own their own homes. They drive in cars with Bose Surround Sound.

But I don't want to die a virgin! was my best defense. Okay, that wasn't exactly accurate, but I was stalling for time. In desperation, I summoned "Tomatoe Girl," the woman with no obvious interests who couldn't spell tomato.


Instantly, the tenor of the conversation changed. My dick was now in charge, with my VTA calling the shots. My amygdala and its henchmen were nowhere to be found.

She doesn't know how to spell tomato, my prefrontal cortex reminded me.

And that's why she won't complain when I show up in a car that doesn't have a working radio, my same (and now dueling) prefrontal cortex shot back.

Weighing, measuring, weighing, measuring ...

Nothing good ever came from thinking with your dick, my dueling prefrontal cortex let me know.

True, my dueling prefrontal cortex acknowledged. Bad marriages, failed relationships. I needed to change my pattern. In some way I couldn't comprehend but knew was true, Tomatoe Girl was part of my old pattern. On the other hand:

Who is the woman I want to be snuggled up with on the sofa right now?

Shit-shit-shit! This was crazy. The tide had turned. My entire prefrontal cortex was now in thrall to my VTA. Already, it was cooking up images of the two of us - me and Tomatoe Girl - curled up in a comfortable corner of her motor home (the corner that didn't need to be jacked up), sipping Jack Daniels from the same bottle and viewing reruns of "Dancing with the Stars."

"The sheriff won't show up till tomorrow," she whispers in my ear. "In the meantime, we have tonight."

I have a very good friend and mother confessor in LA, who I reveal all my dark secrets to. "Sometimes I want to drive down to San Diego and wring your neck," she is wont to let me know.

But it was no use. I was already composing a message that entirely contradicted everything on my profile. Hopefully Tomatoe Girl will just ignore me, I rationalized as I clicked "send." But I also walked away from my computer knowing I had broken the deadlock, that I had overcome my fear and insecurities and had set the process in motion. Tomorrow was another day.

Something told me to check my computer one more time. A fresh email informed me a new message was waiting in my online dating site inbox. She was a classical musician who loved nature and entered triathlons for fun. Not only that, she read the same books I did and had solved the enigma of Einstein's iPod.

"Holy shit!" I could only think. Could this be the one? 

To be continued ...

Previous installments
Part I
Part II

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