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 elitesingles.ie. 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-singles.ie. 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.thenualas.com