The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - CONTENTS - anne.gildea@mailon­sun­

Who looks for ‘elites’ on­line? Er, I do

A h, the clichéd ad­ver­tise­ment for a dat­ing web­site — the canoodling cou­ple hand-hold­ing in the sun­set, the cud­dly en­tice­ments of be­ing in love, all thanks to a click on the in­ter­net. Scrape that! Love is all very well, but what about all the riff-raff clog­ging up cy­berspace? The lat­est in­ter­net dat­ing an­gle cuts straight to the chase: ‘To find some­one of my in­tel­lec­tual level, Elite Sin­gles is the ob­vi­ous choice,’ a man tells the cam­era. He’s a well­groomed Mr Smug. ‘Oliver, en­tre­pre­neur’ the caption at the bot­tom of the screen calls him.

Oliver, the ad­vert im­plies, doesn’t want to meet the thicks you get on other sites. But his search couldn’t just be about in­tel­lect, or he’d be happy just bop­ping along to the next Mensa disco.

No, get a load of his gaff in the back­ground. There’s a model yacht on the man­tel­piece and be­side it a gavel or­na­ment that looks vaguely con­nected to the le­gal pro­fes­sion. The shape of the win­dow sug­gests he might re­side in a cas­tle.

Wow, Oliver is some sort of en­tre­pre­neur­ial, sail­ing bar­ris­ter-cum-king.

What a lousy ad. Who would be in­ter­ested in a dat­ing site that pitches it­self at such a level when it comes to True Love? Who’d want to meet some­one who cat­e­gorised them­selves as ‘elite’? Who’d click on that site? Me, as it hap­pens.

Sub­con­sciously, I think it was the yacht. ‘Do you ever have this feel­ing you should be do­ing dif­fer­ent stuff at the week­end, like sail­ing?’ a friend had only just been say­ing to me. We were mar­vel­ling at the hum­drum­ness of life.

My week­ends, when not gig­ging, look some­thing like this: A trun­dle to the gym. Laun­dry. Clear­ing bits of old cheese out of the fridge. Buy­ing new bits of cheese. Vac­u­um­ing. Per­haps babysit­ting. Meet some­one for a pint and end up mar­vel­ling at how hum­drum life can be­come.

Even the no­tion of dat­ing is dreary. You go for a pint and maybe catch a film. Then you come home and go to bed, the fug of rou­tine hang­ing over ro­mance. Gym shorts damply dan­gle from the bed post, your stack of cur­rent read­ing swamps the night stand. Feel The Fear And Be Hum­drum Any­way... The Seven Habits Of Highly Hum­drum Peo­ple... The Power Of Hum­drum… You get the idea.

‘I can’t help think­ing there should be a man call­ing round for me at the week­end, in a con­vert­ible, with a pic­nic ham­per strapped to the back,’ my friend laughed. And she’s in a re­la­tion­ship, al­beit one that doesn’t con­form to that pic­nic-based idea of daz­zling ro­mance that’s stuck with her from some film seen in youth. Mid-forties, she’s stuck with the hum­drum of re­al­ity. Luck­ily I’m not in a re­la­tion­ship, so it’s all to play for.

So that’s my ex­cuse for click­ing elitesin­ I’m not par­tic­u­larly in the mar­ket to meet a chap right now, but I wanted to check the cat­a­logue of po­ten­tial non-hum­drum elite de­lights that might be there when I’m in the mood again. But there was a catch — be­fore you can en­ter the site you have to com­plete an in­ter­minable ques­tion­naire.

Do you clut­ter? Con­sider your­self at­trac­tive? Does it mat­ter if your po­ten­tial elit­ist is Hindu? It’s con­sid­ered a good idea to ar­tic­u­late pre­cisely who you are and what you’re look­ing for. The prob­lem with that, I thought rue­fully, is that if I knew all that with such pre­ci­sion — or had ever been ar­sed analysing — would I re­ally be snoop­ing around this site?

I gave up, but I had given my email ad­dress. The scraps I had an­swered were tan­ta­mount to a ‘pro­file’. Within 48 hours I’d 15 emails no­ti­fy­ing me about var­i­ous ‘elites’ check­ing out my biog. All I had to do was whip out the credit card and be­come a Pre­mium Plus mem­ber to see their pic­tures and full de­tails. Most of them seemed to live in Bal­brig­gan. Is Bal­brig­gan the elite sin­gles cap­i­tal of Ire­land? How fas­ci­nat­ing... not.

I in­ter­net-dated once in the past. I’d one care­fully cho­sen date — hand­some, funny, fine and tall, as his pro­file had in­di­cated. And it took me four years to re­alise it was never go­ing to work. Not be­cause of a lack of yachts. Rather, we never got to the real stuff of con­nect­ing, the or­di­nary hum­drum of be­ing to­gether.

How do you know when you meet that one? I still be­lieve it’s down to face-to-face chance, not ques­tion­naires in cy­berspace. You’ll serendip­i­tously look into his eyes, he’ll look back into yours — and that’s it, you just know. It’ll be as much about him be­ing right, as the tim­ing. And it could hap­pen any­where — on the street, at an air­port, in a ma­rina be­side his schooner.

I guess my ideal dat­ing site isn’t so de­tailed and as­pi­ra­tional. There’s no form-fill­ing — you log on and re­ceive a reti­nal scan that mag­i­cally matches you to that one, your one, The One. You fall into the delight and hum­drum of love the se­cond your eyes meet in real time. Easi-sin­ It doesn’t ex­ist but, ah, if only real life were so easy. The Nualas play Mer­maid Arts Cen­tre, Bray, Fri­day Septem­ber 13 and GB Shaw The­atre, Car­low, Satur­day Septem­ber 14. www.then­u­

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