Once upon a time, Boy met Girl. Boy liked Girl so he asked her on a date. Girl thought Boy was cute so she said yes. A year later, Boy proposed to Girl. A year after that, Boy married Girl and they lived happily ever after until Boy died of old age, and heartbroken, Girl died a few months later.
Ah, the good ol' days of dating. It was so straightforward and simple. I like straightforward and simple. I am not sure when the good ol' days ceased to exist or even when they started fading away but I think it was about the time I jumped out of the dating pool and into what was supposed to be my happily ever after.
In the Spring of 1998, I met a boy one night at a bar. By the time the bar closed, I was very much the smitten kitten and I gave him my home phone number. When he called the next day, I gave him directions to my apartment so we could go on a date. I didn't tell anyone I had a date-I just went out and had fun (8 hours worth!). We dated for a little over 2 months and then he decided that he wanted to try to win his ex-wife back so he could raise her kids. I don't think I even got around to telling all my friends I was even seeing someone.
About this time, online chatrooms were becoming very popular (because what else were you supposed to do with 50 bazillion free hours from AOL?). Well, this is when I discovered them anyway. I chatted with a few people regularly-mostly people who lived far away-but a few locally as well. I even met a few, and I met them all in public places but didn't tell anyone I had dates. Probably stupid on my part, but online dating had such a negative stigma attached to it and I of course was scarred by my dad's disappointment in my inability to land a man. I didn't want my friends to think I was a loser too. Nothing ever came of this attempt at dating and I gave up trying to meet people locally and went back to national chatrooms just to have someone to "talk" to. But even then, you really had no idea who you were really "talking" to.
In December of 1999, when I met James, the tide was turning. When James asked me out, I said yes. (Boy meet girl, boy likes girl....). Not really knowing anything about him, I put my resources to good use. Let's just say having a friend in the human resource department is a good thing. And, yes, I did confess this to James-eventually. I gave him my phone number. I got directions to his apartment so I could meet him there for our first date (New Year's Eve party). Only my co-conspirator in H.R. and my best friend knew I was on a date with him, but at least someone did. If I didn't turn up for work the next work day, at least someone knew where to start looking. But there was still an element of trust; the good ol' days weren't completely gone yet.
Now, apparently, all the rules have changed. Boy meets Girl on a message board or through a dating site. Boy and Girl exchange private messages hiding behind screen names on a website. Then they move on to exchanging e-mail addresses. Girl gives Boy an address that in no way reveals her true identity so Boy can't find out where she lives since Boy could be a lunatic stalker or mass murderer. In between chats and sending messages back and forth, Girl uses what she knows about Boy to Google him or order a complete background check to make sure Boy really is on the up and up. (Or she decides to end all contact because he seems like he could totally be the man of her dreams and all her online buddies tell her "if he is too good to be true, he probably is").
Then Boy and Girl decide to meet for a coffee date/interview. Girl updates her Facebook and Myspace statuses that she has a date and text messages her entire contact list to let them know where she will be. She then e-mails her entire address list the picture Boy sent her that was really taken about 10-20 years ago so if she turns up missing, they can take it to the cops. If they get through the date/interview without her Spidey sense going off, they exchange phone numbers. Girl, of course, gives Boy her cell number because it is harder to trace back to her home address. When Girl gets home, she updates Facebook and Myspace, and text messages and e-mails all of her contacts that she is home safely.
Eventually, Boy does find out Girl's last name (probably when they become Facebook friends) and where she lives. Eventually, Boy and Girl shack up and get married and live happily ever after until Boy dies of old age, and heartbroken, Girl dies a few months later.
At least that is my understanding of how it all goes down now. I am still waiting for the boy to meet this girl.