Desperate times lead to desperate measures ... ploys ... even, strategeries for impulsive women. And that is how I came to create an online profile on a Catholic dating site.
Stop, let me rewind to Easter morning. Easter morning was one of those mornings where I awoke in a state of absolute panic at my quiet place, my half-empty bed, and the realization that no matter how much PABA I'm taking and how gifted my stylist, the grays on my head are breeding faster than lab mice.
Sunday morning and it all hit. I am going to die alone.
Okay, we are all going to die alone, fine. But I mean really alone. Or maybe with a hospice nurse, or, even better, a physician who will let me have a Brompton cocktail if I'm lucky. And nothing more to say for myself than a lot of weird random stories that I will only share with a few near and dear peeps who I will have outlived. Maybe their children will come visit, although as my cantankerousness increases with every waking moment, probably not. And I will have little to lure them with besides my student loan debt. And denture tricks.
It was an unpleasant, shaky, shuddering feeling and there was nothing to do but hit St. Mary's with the cheerful Father Gene* and just pray pray pray for it all to go away. Unfortunately, the maxim regarding Catholics who only go to church on Christmas and Easter proved to be true even here, and by the time I got through the doors, it was standing room only at the back. There I stood, in a crumpled t-shirt and jeans, next to a woman who I'm pretty sure - given her loud choral performance and jazz hands during "Lamb of God" - was none other than Carol Channing living out her last days in St. Alphonsus Parish.
And then I saw them. Babies. Babies, slightly more than babies and other assorted children all edgy for the Easter Egg hunt. Pewsful full of pedo-cuteness. And I found myself looking at them much in the way of the women who steal infants from maternity wards. Except with slightly better hair.
And then I started studying the couples who held these little creatures, and it hit me, like a thief in the night (har), what was missing. I needed to meet and marry a Catholic man.
I began to study the crowd around me in the back of the church, all of whom seemed to be single thirty-somethings who, like me, didn't feel like fighting the Easter throng for a seat. "Huh," I thought. "Not bad. Not bad at all." However, already knowing how awkward I am wishing for people to have peace be with them (as if peace is so easily commanded), I didn't even want to take the chance of further loosening my tongue with a "peace be with you, and hey, are you, like, seeing anyone?".
My eyes strayed to the bulletin crumpling in my suddenly sweaty palms. Ripping it open, I was disappointed to find that, despite my previous mocking of the event, there was no Wednesday night singles mixer scheduled for the upcoming week. "Could it be," I wondered, "that maybe it's because they've already all met each other and have started breeding ever more babies to stick in a baptismal font?" Dear God, no. No, no, no.
I'm not going to pretend for a moment I have never done the online dating thing. I have. There, I confess. (Mass after-effect.) But my forays into online dating have always turned into twisted bizarre novel-like stories, worthy of only sharing with a select few who adore satire. But still, how to handle this needing-a-Catholic-man issue?
I thought about friends who had dipped into the specialized online dating services. One had joined J-date, where the only person who expressed any interest was a 52-year-old man from Idaho. Who, when she politely declined meeting him, told her to "stop kidding herself." However, that ended happily when she met and is now engaged to a very lovely Jewish boy a year later. My most recently engaged friend, of the Indian ilk, met her man on Idate. And countless others who met on eharmony, which I think is probably run by the Mormon mafia. Okay, no, but it has decidedly family values bent, and after okcupid - where men have said such charming things like 'what's your stance on blowjobs?' - such a change might be welcome.
And so I looked up catholic match.com.
The first thing the website emphasizes is how love for God is first, and love for each other is second. This is obviously going to come in handy whenever I do something stupid that will completely jeopardize our relationship.
"I did it because I love God," I will say. "I love him so much I don't even know or understand why I did that. I just know it was what he wanted."
Second bonus, unlike other sites, I got to check out the goods without creating a profile. First off, nice. Clean cut boys without drunken photos. I bet some of them even went to Jesuit. (Oh god, I can't believe after six years of rolling my eyes when a guy mentions they went to school at Jesuit like it makes them kings of New Orleans, I actually thought about it in a good light. But still.) Better yet, I got to check out the competition too. No airbrushed boobie shots, just normal looking women. I've got a shot here, I think.
So, I decided to create a profile. Catholic match.com spares you the drama of having to come up with a clever catchy but not-too-over-the-top-cheesy profile name. Nope, it's simply your first name and a number. Like you're in prison. First step to altar accomplished.
Now, the tricky part. The dreaded profile questions. I blew through physical description with all A's, wavering only at whether my eyes are green or blue (I actually don't know, they change all the time, like when my other personalities kick in). But then, unlike plain vanilla match.com, it started getting difficult.
Do ears count? I'm going with no.
So far so good so far so ...
"Do you subscribe to the following Catholic beliefs?"
Um, well, I don't really know. Pass? Okay, no. I don't like to think that partaking of communion wine makes me a vampire. So, sue me.
"2. No contraception."
Wow, seriously? On a dating site? I'm going with no.
"3. No abortion."
"4. The pope is infallible."
Does ANY Catholic still believe this?
"5. No premarital sex."
See answer to #2.
"6. Immaculate conception."
Actually, virgin birth IS possible according to my sixth grade health care teacher who once lasciviously described a situation where two people were heavily petting whilst naked and somehow his little swimmers made it up there without her being un-immaculated. That's bull. False.
"7. Only men can be priests."
And just see what a mess they've made of it. NO.
So, there you go. Zero for seven of the church's tenants. At this point, I'm wondering why I even bother going to Mass. Couldn't they have at least brought in the Holy Spirit? Or love, peace, or brotherhood? I could've easily gone for that.
Biting my lip and sighing, I began the grand tradition of online dating misrepresentation and changed my answers to "Yes" for numbers one and six. "I'll explain later," I think. "Like, after the wedding." While I was on a roll, I listed my favorite sacrementals as holy water, candles and rosaries - which sounded very sexy, I thought, particularly when combined with my favorite prayer "The Act of Contrition."
"Do you intend to pursue a vocation (priest or nun)?"
Why on earth this question emerged so late in the game is beyond me. Perhaps it was a recruiting attempt, and can catholic match.com be blamed? The very idea of dating these days has often sent me into wondering if I weren't better off thumping the fat knuckles of preteens and getting free meals.
Don't worry catholic mathc.com, I'll be back in five years when it's all gone down the tubes.
Then game time. A personal description. I have often prided myself on the wit and art I can summon to impress perfect strangers into buying me dinner via my inspired dating prose. However, given the context, somehow my efforts this time just fell flat.
"Am currently looking for someone to spend some time with that is also in the Catholic church and shares my faith and values. I am a young professional not originally from the New Orleans area. I attend mass at St Mary's Assumption on Sunday mornings."
Great, after that masterpiece, I am going to have to get professionally airbrushed, if and when I actually put a face to this hot mess.
But now I can look around. And dontchya know it, I almost immediately find an eligible young buck and my jaw drops. Cute, and reading all of his likes is like reading my own, right down to "Lives of the Saints" the imperfect yet endearing Nancy Lemann novel that led me to this crazy city in the first place. Best of all, a self-mocking lawyer ("All I've learned is that you can only practice law, but I'm never moving out of Louisiana. No more bar exams!"). Exactly! Exactly, Mr. Right-I-Will-Bear-You-Tall-Easter-Clothes-Wearing-Children!
In my excitement I have to go for it. I have to email this guy. The combination of "The Sun Also Rises," "The Decemberists," and "pub visits" - while maybe not incredibly original - are quite enough in my new frame of mind. Sure, he says he believes in the seven thingamabobs, but he's probably just misrepresenting a little too.
And then catholic match.com informs me that to e-mail him, I have to actually subscribe and pay a fee. Apparently my occasional crumpled notes in the weekly basket are not going to count as a subsidy in my newfound role as burgeoning Catholic wife.
Or maybe it's a sign to stop and think about this for a minute.
[my own addition to Catholic beliefs]
"8. Do you believe in signs?"
Yes. Yes, fervently.
I'll pay the fee as soon as I get my professional photo on.
Peace be with you, Mr. Lawyer guy. In the meantime, please change your answer to number five.
*For reasons that are probably obvious to my tiny readership, I will not link out on this blog to my church's website. If they are savvy enough to have a website, they will undoubtedly be able to find where hits are coming from and uncover my not-so-Catholic secrets. So do yourself a favor. Google "St. Mary's Assumption New Orleans" and check out Father Gene's bio. The picture of a young Father Gene cuddling a hamster with the caption "love of all things great and small" will just make you smile your face off.