Excerpt: Age is Just a Number: Adventures in Online Dating

The Secret Life of Divine

Monday, August 16, 2004, 7:20 a.m.

I SCRIBBLE furiously from the first-row corner seat aboard Lantabus Metro. I'm anxious to capture the thoughts and words as they come, honestly, naturally. As I write, I wonder how I ever made it to this point.

A little over three years ago, I quit a well-paying, soul-destroying job in title insurance. Around the same time, I discovered my fiancé's impending fatherhood, which he credited to my decision to reclaim my chastity until our wedding in six months. (I guess he took my urge not to merge harder than I thought.) On the spiritual side, since I'd been too busy coping with life to pick up the internal phone, God sent a messenger to tell me that my services were required as preacher, teacher, and mentor extraordinaire.

Aside from a daily struggle with depression and a weight gain of thirty pounds, I thought I was pretty much taking it all in stride. Then, due to unforeseen circumstances, my landlord gave me forty-five days’ notice to vacate my apartment. Again, sudden changes ordinarily wouldn’t faze me. I’ve been a long time subscriber to the “life happens” train of thought. But for the self-employed, apartment hunting is not a cakewalk. Add defunct child support payments, an elderly parent with special needs, a growing teenager, and my location to the equation, and I’m sure you can understand my dilemma.

I “remained calm” even though my life was the equivalent of a five-alarm fire. I was on a forty day fast at the time, so I knew God had my back. I was even bold enough to tell God, “This one’s on You.” Nevertheless, I was ripe for a distraction, a diversion, a denial facilitator: some kind of heavy-duty mode of escapism.

And wouldn't you know it—I found one!

My journal remembers

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Saturday, March 15, 2003, 5:00 a.m.

I hit the jackpot last night! I'd just returned from choir rehearsal and was unwinding with a copy of Ebony Magazine when I came across an article about two couples. One couple is newlywed; the other is newly engaged. I know, I know…what’s so remarkable about that? Let me finish. Both couples met each other online through dating Web sites! Go figure. I didn’t even know dating Web sites existed! I love technology!

According to the article, the couples “met” online and, despite the sad rap that the Internet has for unsuccessful connections, they managed to beat the odds. Residing in different states seemed not to pose a problem for them. As I processed the article’s information, my heart began to race and I experienced a certain sense of exhilaration. In my mind’s eye I fast-forwarded straight to the culmination of a successful connection for myself.

Me, Divine, walking down (or is it up?) the aisle, wearing a beautiful buttercup-yellow, empire style gown, with a rip away skirt for dancing and showing off my jump-back-Tina-Turner legs. Of course, in this vision I am a size 10 again, and not the mismatched size 16/12 (top/bottom) that I am presently. My auburn tinted locks are braided in an intricate Nefertiti upsweep that just oozes royalty. My nails are unfortunately acrylic (an inveterate nail biter, I can only distort reality so far), and the groom—oh, the groom… he is Morris Chestnut and Shemar Moore of “The Brothers” and Boris Kodjoe of “Soul Food” all rolled into one. It is so real I can feel the goose bumps, sweaty palms, and knocking knees—finished by a sense of relief as the Divine in my vision silently whispers, “Thank you Je-sus!”

I hasted to get to the computer in my home office, adjacent to my bedroom. The fate of the magazine went unnoticed as it hit the floor. I logged onto one of the Web sites referenced in the Ebony article, Blackplanet.com. I ran a search and sat mesmerized as I viewed with awe the works of God’s hands in all their multicolored glory. They came in all shapes, heights, sizes, and sexual preferences. Occupations ranged from blue collar to executive level. Profile after profile, each one more tantalizing than the next.

I pulled an all-nighter, yes I did. I wouldn’t bet money on it, but I might be willing to swear that I heard strains of “So Many Men, So Little Time…How Can I Choo-oose” playing faintly in the background as I set about launching a full-fledged assault on the men of Blackplanet.

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