October 20, 2005
Like I Love Fresca
There are pros and cons to dating in the modern technological age.
Some recent downfalls?
A cyber-stalking from a boyfriend's crazed ex, finding my exes on JDate and some unsavory messages from men who perceived my contributions to this singles column to be an open invitation (when they should realize it's actually a public place to air my dirty laundry).
But there are some positive social benefits to the Internet -- besides the ability to Google any potential date. I speak of the cyberspace kiss off. I gotta say, I'm kind of a fan.
Here's how it worked for me. I had spent a few weeks dating this man. You know how it goes: A haphazard introduction in an elevator led to a couple of phone calls, which yielded to dinners, then dates, then most significantly an evening where I actually allowed this gentleman to escort me to an auto show.
An auto show.
He is a lovely human being. But after a certain point, it was clear there was no love there. And that the feeling was mutual.
It reminded me of one of my favorite quotes from "The Simpsons": "Of course I love you. Like I love Fresca."
This man was refreshing and sweet, like Fresca: bubbly, approachable and thirst quenching, sure, but a bunch of empty calories. At the end of the day, we realized what we had on our hands was a lukewarm Fresca, quickly losing its fizz.
That's how it goes sometimes. Mutual attractions can fizzle.
Still, it's awkward to leave matters hanging. Even the briefest and most ill-fated attempts at relationships have an inherent level of intensity.
So while the inevitable stutter-starts can be deflating, it's a further downer when the situation will never be spoken of, never resolved, never finished.
My gal pals consoled me with: "You were never into him anyway," or "You are better off without him."
Yet the lack of closure smarted.
Then, a week later, I opened my Inbox. The subject line said "Sorry we haven't spoken."
When I opened the e-mail, I discovered a thoughtful note that assured me I was a fantastic individual, that he had a great time getting to know me, but that being in a relationship was just not "where he wanted to be" at the present time.
It was bona fide Bail Mail. And shockingly, it felt helpful.
Maybe being on the receiving end of Bail Mail isn't a stellar position. You are, in fact, being rejected by the contemporary equivalent of a hand-passed note in history class.
Some women would prefer a phone call, an earnest discussion over brunch or a sloppy and emotional speech after a few too many cocktails. But I appreciated the succinct cleanliness of it all.
By getting one little e-mail, we at least acknowledged something existed, and then ceased to exist. I even got a little ego boost from his compliments, even if he was just being diplomatic or nice.
And best of all, it saved me (and him) from having some awkward telephone conversation where the phrase, "No, it's OK," was woefully over-used and abused.
Now, I am not advocating e-mail for ending a long-term relationship, which warrants some human-on-human discussion. But when it comes to the fizzle, perhaps it's better to pen and send some decent parting words than to let the whole can of Fresca fester. And in that respect, technology can be our friend -- an eloquent way of navigating the very ineloquent world of modern dating.
And let's face it; I would rather get my Inbox flooded with poetic Bail Mail than Internet specials on Viagra any day.
Lilla Zuckerman is the co-author of the "Miss Adventures" books "Tangle in Tijuana" and "Beauty-Queen Blowout" (Fireside, 2003).
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