Blind dating: Triumph of hope over experience?

Studying computer science. Blind dating. Studying computer science. Blind dating.

I weigh the relative merits of each again and again and I am hard-pressed to decide which one is preferable to waterboarding.

The best I can say about studying algorithms is that it is behind me. I wish I could say the same about blind dating. If I hope to find a mate to grow old with, visiting sites such as — God help me — JDate, and then consenting to meet the anonymous and tattered exemplars of the aging Baby Boomer cohort is just about the only avenue open to me. It’s horrible. Horrible.

Let me begin by saying something nice about the gent I agreed to meet at Chennai Garden on 27th and Lex in the city. He was generous enough to suggest dinner. It’s true that at $7.95 an entree he wasn’t exactly a major league risk-taker, but dinner anywhere is still a step up from Starbucks. Definitely a plus, and I applaud you, sir.

Next let me say something nice about myself (I don’t always, you know). Despite my not being wowed by the guy when we spoke on the phone, I gave him a chance. That’s what my friends are always telling me to do. “Give the guy a chance. Nobody sounds great on the phone.”

As somebody who has interviewed hundreds of people on the phone over the past ten years, I know for a fact that that’s not true. People excited by a deal they closed or by the poker games they use to test game theory can sound thoroughly engaging over the phone. A dean of computer science in Scotland I interviewed last week — a total stranger — offered to send my son money when he lost his passport in Edinburgh. The man was willing to do that based on the rapport we had established while talking about the “challenges confronting a maturing workforce.”

Details, please
The guy — I’ll call him Philip — was already seated by the time I ventured into bad-hair-day Chelsea and then into the restaurant. Imagine my shock when he looked nothing like the kayaking outdoorsman portrayed in his online photo. Some women really like large protruding teeth. It may just be me, but I prefer somebody a bit more orthodontured.

Can you believe that people actually fudge their pictures on JDate? Thou shalt not lie! Of course my photo isn’t very recent either. And — the wonders of the Internet Age — I am five years younger than my actual age!

You must believe me when I say that if Philip had been rollicking good fun or seriously ministerial, I would have overlooked the less than handsome face. Some of the plainest mugs in all of creation have become dear to me when accompanied by wit or great intelligence. I used to fantasize being married to the corpulent and brilliant man who hired me into my current job. Blind dating is a drag, but love is blind.

Over the course of an hour and a half, I learned a lot about Philip’s three sons: Where they went to high school and college, what languages they speak, where they went traveling. But I don’t recall much Philip said about himself. I know he is an ABD in Jewish history, but I don’t know what period he was drawn to. I know he likes movies, but he didn’t say if he likes the Coen Brothers or Spielberg. Who knows if he reads anything other than the Times. He didn’t say.

I also discovered nothing about Philip’s life with his parents, both of them Holocaust survivors. The historical event that shaped his life and mine never came up in conversation. I guess there are other things to talk about, but those things didn’t seem to come up either, is what I’m saying.

He did mention that he had been hit by an SUV several years ago.

“You yourself were hit or the car you were driving was hit?” I asked.

“I choose my words carefully,” he said in what I think was a stern tone. “I myself was hit.”

By the end of our meal, I asked Philip if, in fact, he is divorced, and if his wife received a get (Jewish divorce) from him. Ah, now I hit upon a subject that sparked some moxie! He said the divorce from his wife, a lawyer, had been acrimonious, and he had made the get a critical part of the negotiations. This last Philip retailed with some pride, as if to say he had gone up against a lawyer and pulled out the one stop he knew would win him the victory he was looking for.

If he were smart, he would have said, “Of course I gave her a get right away. I would never compel another human being to stay in a marriage she wanted out of.” But his vanity revealed him to be petty and vindictive. Scary.

Ah, I got it. That was his ex-wife in the SUV.

When we walked out to the street, I watched to see if Philip limped. Maybe the only reason he told me about the SUV was so that I wouldn’t ask later why he limped. In other words, he revealed only what had to be revealed about himself: The obvious. In any case, I didn’t notice anything. And a limp wouldn’t have mattered much to me. I don’t expect to find a nice man to grow old with who dances salsa too.

The day after the date, Philip sent me a note saying that I was brainy and sexy — an allusion in my JDate profile to the qualities I desire in my former Summer of Love mate. I thanked him for saying so, but had to tell him I didn’t feel a connection with him, etc.

The best way to avoid blind dating is to get married young to the love of your life. Look for him wherever he might be: In a classroom, at a Met game, on a hike, in a hospital waiting room. Persevere. Keep your eyes open or you’ll end up going blind.

Incidentally, I’m not so sure he left thinking what a classy dame his date was. I took my leftover tamarind rice home with me. I guess we both got what we deserved!


Create a word cloud of my text.



  1. Andrea Rabinovitch said

    I couln’t resist pasting in this poem. I wrote it many years ago, and it was printed in the NY Times Metropolitan Diary. Blind dates are no fun, but once in a while they actually work!

    He took me to a place in Chelsea, which he promised would be great.
    “Short on atmosphere, but the dining is first rate.”
    Short on atmosphere?!!
    The only decoration was a yellowed reproduction,
    Of Heimlich’s method to remove esophageal obstructions.
    And the unforgiving fluorescent lights hovering above,
    Made it crystal clear to me that his was not a face to love.
    I peeked at my watch, could it be right?
    Boy, it would be a long night.
    Then I got lucky as fate took control,
    When with a knowing air he bit into a roll.
    He got itchy all over, his face turned bright red.
    “I’m allergic to raisins, why are they in the bread?
    I need to go home, this reaction is bad.
    Would you mind a rain check? I hope you’re not mad!” ANDREA RABINOVITCH
    . . .

  2. Edie A said

    Brook, this is terrific– I didn’t know you were a writer. I like your attitude and humor! I miss you in class and I’m hoping you’re getting a chance to practice Hebrew with someone.

  3. Kallie said

    Hey there,
    Would it be possible to use the image in your article for a thesis im doing on blind people and media facilities?

  4. modestine said

    Totally OK to use the graphic, which is in the public commons.

  5. this is absolutely hilarious

    great read to stumble on..

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