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Finding Love


David Rothman

What is love -- romantic love, tempestuous love, love both erotic and pure? Subject of countless stories, object of a million hearts, love is a passion unknown to those never touched by cupid's arrow.

The lovelorn daydream of love, attempting to capture an emotion they have never experienced. To fantasize of love is like imagining the feel of silk, or the smell of a rose, or the taste of ambrosia, or the sight of a purple potato when one has never felt, smelled, tasted, or seen such things. The loveless multitude know nothing of the swooning passion, a passion impossible to describe to the uninitiated until they fall, and one does not fall until one meets the object of their desire.

John Rambold had never met the object -- the right one. Lucky are those who find love, those who discover that special excitement which is at once uplifting and deflating. John's friends and colleagues tried love as if it were a style of dress, in vogue one season, tossed out the next when tastes changed. "Had my friends ever really been IN love?" John wondered.

People everywhere played at romance, falling for movie stars and entertainers they had never even met. "They fell for images -- how absurd," he thought.

"Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art... Oh Juliette, my Juliette... Why... why can't I find love?" said John Rambold to his computer monitor, which displayed an Ask Jeeves search engine.

Could he find the romance that would last forever? He was depressed because he had no one with whom to share his life, nobody who could console him in tragedy and bolster him in failure, nobody who would celebrate with him in success and triumph, who would bear his children, and remain with him until death-do-us-part.

Ready to give up on ever finding the Juliette to accompany his Romeo, John, in a nasty mood, leaned back in his chair and stared at the monitor, his hands on the keyboard. John pounded the keys, and "love" showed up in the appropriate box on the search page.

He sighed theatrically as he clicked Search. He then scrolled down the numerous listings that appeared. Number forty three caused him to pause. It said: HEY MISTER LONELY GUY, find love, experience love, at

John was just over six feet tall, not bad looking, healthy and in good shape, bright, caring, had a pleasant personality, was employed, and had no outstanding idiosyncrasies, although he did have a habit of saying, "What's it all about?" at odd times, sometimes for no reason anybody who overheard him would understand.

He had had sexual encounters with more than one partner, but was not promiscuous, and had been married once -- for a year. He had not been in love with any of them, not even his ex-wife. "Had any of them been in love with me?" he thought.

He was frustrated, for wherever he went he found companionship but was unable to find love. "What's it all about?" he said to the empty room, and thought, "How do people find true love?"

John clicked, and the Home Page appeared. John clicked on the First Time Visitor button.

Hello John Rambold, please fill in the following short questionnaire:

1. Age? 38
2. Have you ever been in love, real gut-wrenching-can't-think-straight love? No.
3. Are you ready for it? Yes.

Thank you, John. Please press Enter.

John thought: why am I wasting my time? With nothing better to do, he clicked Enter, and the following message appeared: A series of pages will flash on your monitor, each will remain for ten seconds. Quickly scan each page and Click on the picture of the person(s) you are significantly attracted to on each page. If strongly attracted to nobody, don't make a selection. You have ten seconds to make your selection(s) before the page disappears and the next appears.

He began to relax. "Just maybe if I keep my mind open something good will happen." Please press Enter when you are ready to begin. Now serious, John clicked enter.

For the next two hours, pages paraded onto the screen, each remaining for ten seconds, and John scanned each as if he were searching for a precious diamond among scattered stones. After looking at hundreds of pages that contained every conceivable variation of humanity, both male and female, John was exhausted. He had selected twenty pictures, twenty female candidates among the thousands of images that crossed his vision. Hope stirred.

The following message appeared: After you take a one hour break, click 'Continue' and you will learn more about the women you chose. John was eager to continue, but as instructed he broke away to visit the bathroom and have a snack.

When John returned to his computer after the hour had passed, the following appeared on the screen: Each young lady will answer two questions of your choice from the following:

1. Are you religious, spiritual, or rational? Explain.
2. What is your ambition in life?
3. Are you athletic or intellectual, or both? Explain.
4. Do you like your father and why or why not?
5. What is more important, a person's physical appearance or what is in their heart? Explain.
6. Could you become romantically involved with someone of a different race or religion or social standing, or of your sex?
7. Are material things important to you and which ones and why?
8. Do you want to have children, and if so how many?
9. Do you enjoy sex? Explain.
10. Do you like housekeeping and cooking?

John thought about which three questions would most reveal qualities and traits that were important at this stage of getting to know someone. He knew he could learn more when they met face to face, but he wanted to eliminate any candidates that were definitely incompatible with ideals he cherished. He chose numbers 1, 2, and 7. The pictures became animated as the women responded, giving them an added dimension. The questions had been prerecorded so John could not interact with the women.

After listening to their answers, John narrowed the list of women to twelve, a dozen potential partners. After clicking Enter, a prerecorded video of each woman ran on the monitor. Each candidate wore various styles of clothing and performed activities like riding a bike, dancing, shopping, and cooking. John narrowed his selection to the final five.

John clicked enter, and the monitor told him he would have to wait two days while all five he had selected viewed a video of John and asked him their choice of prerecorded questions. Then John could ask them out for coffee at Starbucks.

Two days passed. John was excited, and nervous as a schoolboy. John called each of the women he had selected. One by one they refused his invitation. None of them wanted to meet him.

"What's it all about?" said John to the empty room.

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