Saturday, February 23, 2008

What's your deal?

Like a high-stakes game of strip poker, people can reveal their cards slowly in the world of online dating. You can show your best cards first, while keeping some in the hole.

I have a friend who tried I'll call her "Pink." Pink is a very attractive girl, so she laid down the Queen of Hearts. She posted pictures of herself doing guy-bait things such as fishing in a bikini and hiking in short shorts. For the intellectuals, she revealed her master's degree card.

Her mailbox filled up the first day, and after that she was always on a date - breakfast, lunch and dinner. Every time I talked to her, she was meeting a prospect for a drink. She met chiropractors, cancer survivors, certified public accountants, actors and architects.

On one date, she played her Red Bull and Absolute card. She got so inspired by a live dance performance, she dive-rolled onto the stage to join in. She scared off her date, but she convinced me to join for a free 30-day trial period.

When I joined the game, I anted up at my favorite sushi bar three times.

Card deal No. 1 was a 6-foot-5-inch Gap executive wearing a blue suit. He'd played the successful-and-stable card and bored me with thread-count talk over sashimi. I played my humor card. The sushi chef, like a dealer, watched our first date theater as he sliced our fish and chuckled at my stories. Then S&S card and I strolled the promenade under a lunar eclipse. He seemed like a decent hand, but not a winner. We ran into two of my sassiest friends who toyed with him mercilessly. He ran to his car as my friends heckled him. What a bust.

Deal No. 2 impressed me with a stunning photo, which after meeting him I realized must have taken a makeover team and Photoshop to pull off. I gave him a chance though (I was hungry). My sushi chef, Sinse, rolled his eyes as he heard me laugh at my same stupid stories. Photoshop guy fell apart and folded. His cards were so low, he actually cried about his mother at one point. After a disapproving double-eyebrow lift from Sinse, I got the name of Photoshop's photographer and recommended a good therapist.

Deal No. 3 was an actor who loved to break out into Shakespearean monologues. His voice boomed, which hurt Sinse's ears. I passed on his paint cards and decided to sit this one out.

Luckily, I let my trial membership expire and eventually booked a ferry ticket to Juneau. Alaska's capital is so small, chances are you will know the entire history of someone you see online. It's kind of like counting cards. You have a pretty good idea when to draw and when to pass.

But everyone is dealt a different hand, so why not have a single friend party? Everyone can bring a friend they aren't dating and shuffle the cards with no pressure.

And Pink? She went "all in." She's having her third child with her husband, who she met while vacationing in Paris. Now that's a royal flush.

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