The internet....where would we be without it? For our generation, and our kids' generations, it all comes naturally to us. Everyone's doing it, right?
Well, not exactly. For my parent's generation, they're still trying to get the hang of it. "Google what?" they ask. "Face who?"
My dad has taught me many things in life, with one of the most important lessons being how to manage my money. At an early age, he had me sitting down with him every month, showing me how to balance a checkbook, pay the bills and how to budget and save money.
So it seemed only fair that at some point, I'd return the favor. The daughter grows up and teaches her father a few life lessons.
Beginning with the internet....
He and my mom divorced back in 1999 and he moved to Las Vegas...very lonely and wanting companionship. I mentioned online dating and he asked, "Online WHAT?!"
I explained it to him, "Well, Dad, you register on an online dating site and they match you up with people who seem like a good fit for you."
He shook his head and grieved for the days when dating was as simple as spotting a hot chick in the library and asking for her number.
Tim, being the computer guru that he is, rebuilt a computer for my dad and sent it out to him in Vegas. For days, Tim spent hours on the phone walking himthrough various lessons on how to boot up the computer, registering for an e-mail address and finding his way around the world wide web.
I urged my father to sign up for an online dating site. He said, "I don't know about all this...it feels strange and foreign."
Trying to reassure him, I persisted, "Dad, the woman of your dreams could be out there somewhere....just keep an open mind."
And he did...but he was still rather naive about the whole process. For instance, when one particular woman sent him a picture of herself, he told me, "Wow, she's a looker, this one!"
I had asked, "Is it a recent picture, though?" and he had laughed and said, "I would think so...I mean, why would she send me a picture of herself from ages ago?"
Afraid of punturing his bubble, I kept my cynicism to myself.
They spent about a week e-mailing back and forth and then finally chatting on the phone. It was a refreshing change of pace to hear the excitement in his voice each time he'd update me on their progress.
Then it was time....time for them to meet in person. I assumed he was going to meet her at a local Starbucks for coffee and light conversation.
I was wrong.
After dropping $100 on a lobster dinner, which had included some good wine and 2 hours of boring conversation, my dad called me and yelled into the phone, "Helene, she looked NOTHING like her picture. It's like the picture was from 20 years ago! Let's just say that the last two decades have not been good to her."
All I could do was feel badly for him, as he continued ranting and raving about how dull she was and that he had spent the whole time trying to think of a way to high-tail it out of there.
To make matters worse, she had already left him a voicemail telling him she had a great time and couldn't wait to see him again.
I gave him some pointers....
1) Always ask for at least a couple pictures....put an emphasis on the fact that you want RECENT pictures.
2) Within at least a couple days, arrange to meet in person. Don't waste any more time than necessary e-mailing and calling one another. Someone can be as charming as Sophia Loren over the phone but be more like the female version of Simon Cowell in person.
2) Never ever meet at an expensive restaurant for dinner! Meet up for coffee in the middle of the afternoon....make sure she knows you only have an hour, at the most.
Your busy work schedule can suddenly "free up" if you hit it off with her and want to spend more time.
3) Arrange for your secretary to call you on your cell after 20 minutes, in case you need a quick out.
4) If you don't plan on seeing her again, be honest. Don't tell her you'll call because she'll keep hounding you, wondering why you haven't returned her messages.
Okay, so after all that...he felt like he was ready to venture out again. And he did.
He went on a few more dates with various potential partners and then finally lucked out with a beautiful woman who seemed to share the same passions in life as he did...except she had left out one very important detail.
She was still married...which explained why she always insisted on either meeting my dad out in public or at his place, but never at HER place.
When she finally came clean, she explained that the marriage was over but they still lived together only out of convenience so her husband could be covered under her insurance, due to a lifelong medical condition he suffered from.
My dad was about to give up on dating by that point. Sure, he was very lonely but dating in this new century was more of a hassle than he had realized.
It made me sad, thinking of my dad sitting around all by himself in his bachelor pad. He tried to reassure me that he was fine....he was hitting the bars on Sundays to watch the football games and he was trying to mix and mingle with the people at work.
Still, I continued to pressure him, "Dad, just try the online dating thing just one more time....don't write it off completely after a few bad experiences. Come on, please!"
Thankfully, he agreed....and, after a few more less than amazing dating experiences, my dad met his current wife. He could hardly wait to tell me that she looked exactly like the picture she had sent him and that they had many things in common, with the exception that she raised border collies for a living and he hated dogs....but he could work around that, he had explained.
They were married just a few months later...and they'll be celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary this June.
I recently convinced him to join Facebook, which he begrudingly obliged because I just wouldn't let up. I drew him in by saying, "Think of how many old high school buddies you can catch up with!"
Apparently, though, he's still rusty on the issue of social media and needs a few pointers, with the first one being on public vs private profiles.
"Uh, Dad....promise me the minute we get off the phone, you'll delete your phone number and address from your profile. And make your profile private, please".
"Why?" he asked.
I replied, "Haven't you seen the stories on the news of people's homes being burglarized after they posted or tweeted that they were away from their homes for an extended period of time?"
He answered, "No, I haven't. I hadn't even thought about that!"
"Well, there are horrible people in this world who do think about evil things like that so please do me a favor and take that information off your profile and then make your profile private, okay?"
He assured me, "Okay. Oh...and what's tweeting?"
"Oh geez, Dad," I said. "Let's save that lesson for another time...tell you what, in about 5 more years, your grandkids can teach you all about it."
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