by Kathryn Lord

It was Thursday before Memorial Day weekend, 1998. We were in the middle of a blisteringly intense heat wave in Tallahassee – day after day of temps over 100. I had just gotten back from a trip to my Maine house that included a first meeting with my latest Internet romance, an extremely suave fellow with an enticing English accent and quite a way with words. Unfortunately, reality couldn’t match the fantasy. The landing was a painful thud, and I was still rattled.

I first heard about the year before. I was single again, had not dated in way too long, and was really floundering. For sure, I was not seeing anything interesting or available in the small circles I was traveling in, so I checked out Match.

It was scary. And the embarrassment potential was huge. Internet dating seems awfully close to newspaper personal ads, and those could be terribly pathetic. At one of my parties, my guests laughed themselves silly when a droll friend entertained us by reading the personals from our local paper. I remember the best/worst one: “Looking for love in Chattahoochee. Must have job and own car.”

I lurked on Match for a few weeks, finally getting up enough nerve to post a profile, then started what I now know was a tepid email conversation with a magazine editor in New York City. George would send me a nice note every week or so, hinted that he might come to Tallahassee for a cup of coffee. I’d wait a few days to answer (did not want to seem too eager), and then in a week or two, he’d write back. He told me his magazine, so I bought it, and there was his photo! Cute! Figuring I had an unfair advantage, I copied a couple of nice photos of myself and sent them regular mail. I never heard from him again.

Crushed, I got off Match and stayed off for about six months. But things weren’t looking any better in Tallahassee, so I screwed up my courage and got back on

This time, I was more careful and methodical, as well as less sensitive. Slowly, I figured out how to write a good profile, and then how to critically read those of other singles. I became more adept at making first contacts and filtering in the good candidates. The Lothario with the English accent did slink in under my radar, but frankly, every woman should be wooed at least once by such a pro.

So it’s the evening of Thursday before Memorial Day, and I decided, though bruised, to get back online. I scanned the profiles, came up with five or six that looked worth some effort, and sent each an email.

I got a reply, from a fellow with the screen name stglass. I wondered: “Stained Glass? More likely, Steve Glass.” Stglass, who said his name was Drew, thanked me for my note, but said he was currently communicating with another woman, and old fashioned enough to want to see that contact out before starting another. I emailed back that I liked old fashioned, but that with Internet dating, it sometimes was better to have more than one contact going at the same time. And please get in touch later if he wished. Since nothing else looked promising, I went to bed.

When I logged on the next morning, I had two very long emails from stglass Drew. He had second thoughts, reread my profile, liked that I was handy with a chain saw, and decided to shift me into first place. The stglass was stained glass – he was self-taught, did it as a paying hobby. (I had an art background and had done a little stained glass work myself.) And he had left his computer on, waiting for me to answer! This guy was motivated.

So we wrote. And we wrote and we wrote and we wrote. All weekend. This was no tepid email relationship. This guy was excited.

We started talking about meeting, a bit of a problem, since we were 482 miles apart. We finally settled on half way and set a date for the next Saturday. Then we emailed steadily every day in between.

Because of all the emailing we did, we knew a lot about each other before we ever met in real time and space. Even though the meeting was nine days after our first contact, we had both asked and gotten honest and direct answers to most of our questions. But I had one big question to settle in that first meeting: Was Drew sane? His communications had been so lengthy, his energy jumping through the computer screen, that I had some real concerns he might be manic.

Bellingrath Gardens in Mobile, Alabama, was swelteringly hot. We were outside most of the day, sweating profusely. At one point, a huge thunder storm moved in off the Gulf. We kept dodging the other visitors so that we could talk privately – every time we found a secluded spot, someone came and sat beside us.

In person, Drew was intense, though quiet and low key. No mania there. Sanity checked, by the end of the day, we both knew this was a match.

We were married in 2001. I got an instant family, since Drew had a grown son and daughter. Both are now married themselves and working hard to make me a grandmother, which is quite a treat, since I never had children of my own. We now live in Tallahassee in the winters, Maine in the summer, in the house I built on an island 31 years ago. We have stained glass studios in both places and work together creating beautiful windows. And I got a new career, too: In 2002, I became a Romance Coach, working with other singles to help them find love online.

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