mercredi, février 14, 2007
Article from Today's Inquirer
Posted on Wed, Feb. 14, 2007
A woman of faith deals with online dating
I'd certainly never thought of myself as a pin-up girl. In fact, to the best of my recollection, I spent three years studying to be a minister without getting asked out on one date. It wasn't until much later when I started dating as a single mom that I realized some guys really had a thing for women in uniforms.
The 10 years after graduation were basically a relationship wasteland. Looking back, the reasons are probably not hard to identify; running a senior citizens transportation service or acting as the vicar of a Philadelphia blue-collar parish on life support were not the best ways to meet eligible men.
By the time I married in my mid-30s, I was convinced that being an ordained female was as incompatible with sex appeal as Windows was with Netscape. Twelve years later, older but perhaps not wiser, I began to ponder the possibility of posting an online dating profile. Since I am currently earning my keep as a writer, it was easy to avoid alluding to my preaching years.
Aware that I would need to explain my vocation to every man I met, I feared shock and revulsion. But when I got around to breaking the news, I found that reactions ran an unexpected gamut.
When I confessed my most un-lurid past to my first date, a writer, his eyes gleamed. Pronouncing himself intrigued, he moved closer to me on the couch.
Another date was amazed that I would make such a big deal out of disclosing a vocation for which he had the greatest respect. Having dated an aspiring rabbi when he was young, he couldn't figure out what all the fuss was about.
Over tea and pastries one morning, I commiserated with a charming, smart and sensitive minister who was serving in a congregation. He had, at least temporarily, shelved his online profile, as convinced as I had been that as revealing his profession was as harmful to his cause as being a Steelers fan at an Eagles game.
In one extended online correspondence with a local actor, I teasingly wrote that my career had required me to "look good in black." A screenwriter, he entered into the spirit of the guessing game, hypothesizing that I had been either a nun who "couldn't find the depth of utter faith it takes to devote oneself to the concept of marrying the mythic Christ" or, more hilariously, a disillusioned ex-CIA agent on the run.
But my most unsettling encounter to date has been with a TV producer with a past that he said included involvement in what we sometimes delicately call "alternative lifestyle" activities. In those circles, apparently, dating a priest would have been like hanging a prize pair of deer antlers on the den wall.
Didn't I realize, he asked me, that when I was conducting services at the altar many of the men in the congregation were fantasizing about me? I assured him that such a thought had happily never crossed my mind. (And here I was thinking that they were wondering what time the football game began that afternoon!)
I have to admit that for the space of a few weeks, lured by his creativity, intelligence and disarming sense of humor, I yielded to the fantasy that a "priest and pagan" or "holy woman and hedonist" could build a friendship, if not a long-term relationship.
But when we finally met over lunch, the man who had been so exceedingly frank in the virtual world seemed strangely reticent in the real one. After revealing that he was not ready to abandon his "alternative lifestyle" - activities I thought he had given up long ago - my friend vanished.
Priest. Ex-CIA agent on the run. Sex goddess. Sex goddess? So many roles, so little time.
I could be overwhelmed by the plethora of facades available to me. But for now, I think I'll keep holding out for the guy who sees me just as I am: feisty, introspective, and hopeful, a woman of faith in an online world in which the genuine articles just barely seem to outnumber the charlatans. If he can handle the woman behind the collar, a touch of black and white isn't going to faze him one whit.
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