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Free Range: Dangerous dating

By Felicia Morgan

A few months ago a friend was telling me about a guy who was stalking and abusing women he found from online dating sites. He’d been imprisoned for this behavior, done his time, was back out on the streets and returned to his bad habit but this time he’s targeted biker chicks. I immediately decided I needed to alert my sisters in the wind to the potential hazards associated with the dating sites. Problem was, I’d never even been to one. In the interest of public safety and responsible journalism, I dove into researching the pitfalls of this modern-day method of mate shopping. I realized immediately I was in over my head.

First of all, let me tell you there are a bazillion options when it comes to dating sites and they range from what seem to be responsible, professional sites that offer not just in-depth screening but helpful tips and useful resources to assist you in building a healthy relationship, right on up (or maybe down) to what appear to be nothing more than porn site hookup spots for one-night stands. Whatever you might be in the market for, it can be found in the personals and I was pretty well amazed at what folks are willing to put out there. I stuck with the professional sites. Eventually I ended up with four sites that I tended and by the first week I was notified that I had 98 guys interested in me. I discovered this was a pretty good ego builder and realized immediately that there’s some pretty interesting psychology behind this racket.

“He’s interested in you. He sent you a wink. You have a love connection,” were daily if not hourly notifications. It dawned on me that I couldn’t possibly write from a place of authority if I never actually met anyone, which was not part of my initial plan. How could I tell others about the pitfalls of Internet hookups if I never actually had one? I picked three guys and arranged meetings. One I considered the nightmare guy, someone I’d never actually date. Second was a guy I’d communicated with, found intelligent and, from his photo, seemed attractive but said he rides a “foreign” bike. I decided I was willing to make an exception to my V-Twin rule. The third was a retired man who didn’t currently ride, though he still held his motorcycle endorsement. I made dates for the first two on the same day: one for breakfast, one for lunch. The third I’d wait until later to see.

Nightmare guy asked to meet at a bar. He’d be on break from his job as a school bus driver and had a couple of hours to kill. I had visions of a Foster Brooks character sucking up bourbon before wobbling off to terrorize small children by careening through neighborhoods on two wheels. Instead I was pleasantly surprised to meet an attractive, responsible guy sipping coffee and watching 20 different televisions at once down at the local sports bar. He did all the talking, never asking anything about me so it was pretty easy. Then he shared that he’s just looking for a lady to help him pay his bills. I was blown away by the admission and, since I have enough trouble paying my own bills let alone somebody else’s, made my escape. Next stop was an hour away so I enjoyed the ride, trying to ignore the nervous knot in my gut.

Sitting at the restaurant, I texted a friend and asked how long is reasonable to wait for a first date since I’d already been there half an hour. We wrote for another 15 minutes before a tall man casually sidled up to the table. He broke out in a big smile and suddenly it hit me: I’d neglected to ask if he had all his teeth. Or brushed the ones he did have. Our hour-long visit was spent discussing his 16-pill-a-day medication problem, though he assured me his shrink was working on cutting him back. And he shared that his motorcycle is actually a Vespa. I crossed the city limits, hit the throttle hard and commenced to making sure I was impossible to follow.

Last but not least was a lunch date with a man who wanted to show off his cooking skills by making me a home-cooked meal. I arrived for lunch, secured the Beast and hit the doorbell. My chef-host answered the door and I stood frozen in shock. Tall and sporting a pronounced beer belly, my date had long skinny legs, swollen arthritic knees and was wearing his underwear. And not the sexy kind, either.

It seems to me that if Vespa-riding guys with teeth that have a mossy patina, or men in their panties is what’s available, I’ll be single for a long, long time. As in: forever. As for the rest of you ladies, you’re on your own. Just be safe out there.

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