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Online, I could be equal parts brainy and breezy; I could hide behind pictures that only show my good side, and I could deftly dodge questions with cryptic clues about what I did for a living and the kind of man who might be the right kind for me.
In a flurry of box-checking, I could filter out men who didn’t like my politics, my hair, or my taste in music and who didn’t care if I was as comfortable in jeans as a little black dress but did care about when and how to use “you”, “you’re” and “your”. Time to take stock of all I have accepted about myself, the “alternative facts” if you will.
The Harley I’d seen in the photo was parked outside, silver steel shimmering. Unless he had borrowed it just for our first date, this was a good sign. He says he thought the woman in the picture was looking directly at him. She is director of education innovation at the Arizona Charter Schools Association, and has been recognised for her work in school reform and her activism on immigration.
He was sitting at the bar, staring ahead, and I watched him watch me out of the corner of his eye as I walked the plank all the way from the front door to where he sat. In spite of all the tactics and algorithms deployed to make sense of our checked boxes and declare us a 100 per cent match, and being declared “official” by Facebook and the young bartender who thinks we’re photogenic enough to be “the desert Obamas”, we are making this match right here, right here where angels fear to tread, in the messiness of the middle of two lives that collided at the best and worst of times.
Even though I know you’re not supposed to have any expectations, I had prepared myself to be let down and lied to, but my instinct told me that the man at the bar was not going to lie to me and that I would not lie to him. Virtuality was becoming reality and although I was sceptical - sorry, musicians, but you have a reputation to uphold - I was also smitten. Having read and committed to memory the FAQ section of the online dating site, I knew this was another red flag.
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It’s much safer - and easier - to sparkle and enchant the way you would on your resumé - except you have to be cuter, avoiding clichés or divulging your home address. My best friend reminded me I have an unparalleled expertise in ambiguity, which reminded me not to give too much away. I was wearing the outfit I had worn in my profile picture, perhaps to prove that I had posted a picture taken within at least the past decade.