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From Chapter Four

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FROM CHAPTER FOUR

For the next month or two, with increasing frequency, I’d find myself logging on to the Matchmaker web site, not in a hunt for romance, but as an incredulous spectator of this revealing phenomenon.  Each time, as I’d pull up listing after listing of women declaring how equally comfortable they were in evening gowns as in jeans, or how little the location of a date mattered as long as they enjoyed the company of the man they were with, I’d shake my head, not believing how mercantile and impersonal it all seemed—complex human beings willingly reduced to billboard versions of themselves, all in a hungry quest to sell the notion of their love-worthiness.  The pathology of it all was deep and fascinating, as engrossing as any good novel, and as with any gripping page-turner, the more I read the less able I was to pull myself away.  This was entertainment of the highest order—it had ethos and pathos, comedy and tragedy, all playing out within a setting undeniably pregnant with the prospect of sex and romance.

Pass me the popcorn!

Then, one lonely Saturday night in early July of that year…


To purchase Finding It Again, click here.


Website content copyright Ó February Press, LLC
Excerpt content copyright Ó 2007, Kenneth W. Shapiro
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From Chapter Eight

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FROM CHAPTER EIGHT

“Don’t worry,” my friends would say, “you’ll find her.”

I have a loyal and caring group of friends, people I love and cherish, but almost all of them—men and women—are married, and sometimes I get the sense that their interest in my finding a mate is motivated not only by their genuine concern for my happiness, but also by how much more convenient things would be, socially, if I were part of a couple.  When I’m invited out with friends, it’s rarely with just one couple—it’s usually as part of a larger group of three or four pairs, and I’m usually the one sitting at the head of the table, or at the end of the table across from no one.  To my friends, when I “find her” I’ll not only be able to enjoy all the comfort and warmth of a deep and soulful love, I’ll also put an end to all those pesky, odd-numbered dinner reservations.  Getting a table for eight is so much easier than getting a table for seven.

But when people say, “Don’t, worry, you’ll find her,” it suggests a fairy-tale notion of some predetermined “her,” some singular, identifiable woman whom destiny has hidden away as part of some cruel “Where’s Waldo” test of skill and endurance.

I don’t believe in that.  I don’t believe that some mystical force has jiggered the game by creating for each of us, from among the billions of people on this planet, only one person with whom we can create a relationship of true love and compatibility.  I don’t even believe it’s one in a million.  While I’ll acknowledge that finding someone with whom you can fall in love, and stay in love, is rare, my instincts tell me it’s probably more of a one in two hundred proposition.  Of course, that doesn’t necessarily require two hundred first dates before meeting a permanent love—she could just as easily be number seven as number 198—it just means that she’s somewhere within that pool.

Thanks to the Internet, I’m currently at 22—and counting.


To purchase Finding It Again, click here.


Website content copyright Ó February Press, LLC
Excerpt content copyright Ó 2007, Kenneth W. Shapiro

From Chapter Nine

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FROM CHAPTER NINE

No, I wasn’t wowing every woman I came across.  Who does?  But even if I sparked an interest in only half of the women I was meeting, still, I was meeting a lot of women—and half of a lot is still a lot.  The problem was—whether I saw someone once or half-a-dozen times, whether we slept together or not—nothing seemed to be taking hold.  The chemistry necessary for any genuine, long-term adhesion just wasn’t happening.

And I wasn’t the only one experiencing this phenomenon.  Not only was I hearing the same lament from the women I’d been meeting, I was gleaning the same story, albeit indirectly, from the dating service itself.  Many—no, most—of the women whose profiles I’d noticed when I first signed on, those many months ago, were still on the service, logging in on a daily basis, signaling by their presence that they, too, were coming up short in the hunt for something long-term.

As I drove home from yet another first date—Bonnie, 43 years old with a 12-year-old daughter—a notion started swirling in my head.  Maybe the problem wasn’t a lack of chemistry.  Maybe the problem was the whole notion of chemistry itself.


To purchase Finding It Again, click here.


Website content copyright Ó February Press, LLC
Excerpt content copyright Ó 2007, Kenneth W. Shapiro

From Chapter Eleven

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FROM CHAPTER ELEVEN

Internet dating, I decided, was a paradox built upon a paradox.  It was, at once, both a great thing and a terrible thing, and what made it so great was also precisely what made it so terrible—namely, choice.

Before the advent of cyber-dating, single people past the age of 40 had relatively few options for a chance at romance.  Fix-ups, singles functions, bars, the workplace, affairs—those were pretty much the available venues, and the number of prospects afforded by each of those alternatives was relatively small.  My guess is that, given the paucity of social opportunities, middle-aged singles were more inclined back then to settle into a relationship with someone who was less than ideal, on the rationale that settling for fifty percent was better than having nothing at all.  When you’re not sure when (or even whether) the next meal will arrive, you’re understandably less choosy about eating whatever’s in front of you.

Cyber-dating changed all that.  With their ever-replenishing inventory of romantic possibilities, and their concomitant insinuation that the person you’ve always been looking for is just a click or two away, computer dating sites effectively neuter any imperative to compromise.  Your date may possess three-quarters of the traits you think you’d like in a mate, but why settle for three-quarters when a virtually limitless supply of other prospects awaits?  Certainly, with so many people still available, you can do better than three-quarters, no?

Well, maybe.  But with so many choices, what will be good enough?  Four-fifths?  Nine-tenths?  A hundred percent?  A hundred percent plus one?  There’s something to be said for the freedom of knowing you don’t have to settle for less than what you want, but there’s something paralyzing about it, too.  With their abundance of choices, computer dating sites foment both—the freedom and the paralysis.


To purchase Finding It Again, click here.


Website content copyright Ó February Press, LLC
Excerpt content copyright Ó 2007, Kenneth W. Shapiro