Jorga smiled anxiously at the screen. Its light was the only one in her room, the rest of which was all dark shadows and deep blue recessive pockets of gloomy distortion. Her brightly lit laptop screen fluoresced and accentuated the shadows under her eyes and the red, inflamed zits she'd been picking at.
"'Only14U' has winked at you" said the words on her screen. She clicked the underlined name noting the obvious intent of the name as she did so. "Only14U" obviously meaning "Only one for you". So many men made this pitiful attempt at being clever with their online screen names. She'd seen one or two screen names that had indeed, been clever, but most were vague attempts at wit and were largely seen by Jorga as somewhat childish, inane or grossly stupid! Winking via an online match-making site only meant you were indicating an interest in pursuing a potential friendship or date with another person, but even something as innocuous sounding as a "wink" began to exhibit for Jorga, a whole Pandora's Box of emotional self-mutilation.
Jorga often found herself hesitant and anxious when she received such names as 'Only14U' in her online dating service inbox. None of the inane,stupid username profiles had interested her so far. None of the cutely named, clever, sensible, adorably profiled, lovely looking men she'd sent winks to accepted her either, for that matter. Jorga was very used to having rejection replies in her inbox. She was caught in between stupidity aiming 'up' for her and her own stupidity for aiming higher than herself!
'You'd think we were over this class status via physical attractiveness factor thing by now' she mused to herself as she looked at 'only14U's' profile. As was usual in her online dating experience thus far, 'only14U' had declined to add a profile photo of himself as did so many of the men that had previously 'winked' at her. 'Probably as ugly as all hell or wanting a mistress' was Jorga's usual summation of such profiles.
Sometimes, she just sent them a polite "Thanks, but no thanks!" and at other times, if the words of the profile seemed more or less half intelligent, she would send a "I'd like a profile picture please" request. Usually, they were "as ugly as hell", at least according to her version of what "Attractive" meant.
No chemistry at all! She knew logically that to base a potential romantic relationship on two hundred and fifty words and a poorly thought out photograph - if they'd bothered with one at all - was nonsensical and arbitrary in the extreme, however, she wasn't into old, craggy, frowning, aesthetically challenged faces so much.
She knew it worked that way for her in the minds of the pretty men she winked at and who then clicked on her own profile. "As ugly as all hell!" rang in her ears as a challenge to her own vanity and sense of herself as a woman. She knew she was getting on in years and that her looks were now fading but she often felt pretty - sort of - if she wasn't looking in a mirror or at her own photograph.
She felt intelligent, witty, clever, honest, practical, romantic, sexy and adorable most of the time. It was just that her physical representation in two dimensional space continually let her down over and over again. No amount of preening and makeup, lighting or angles of head tilt in her profile pictures could disguise how ordinary and aging she really was!
With this fact in mind, she would often be plagued by a mild case of guilt when turning down, apparently, shy, aging and very ordinary men, whom she could not find attractive but were really very okay. She knew how it felt to be relegated to the dating dustbin by very physically attractive men. She felt bad on the one hand for rejecting men on the basis of how they looked and perversely gratified for being considered attractive by anyone.
When you get a "Thanks but no thanks" in your inbox after sending a 'wink' to a nice looking person with a really clever profile, you feel the jab in your self-esteem quadrant, like that very large needle into your gum at the dentist. It hurts and it can smart for a long time after, but you ignore that because you know its better to take the icky stuff now than suffer any pain, during and after. Jorga was over taking needles. Very over it!
Ordinary and utterly cool women, like herself, spending decent Documentary-on-the-tele viewing time shopping for dates online instead. It was insane! Lovely girls, looking for men who had both smarts and good looks with athletic bodies, along with an above average grasp of the English language, but getting their shy winks knocked back by these men because of what? Her face was too round? She was carrying too much weight? She was too forward? Not forward enough? She was the wrong star sign? She lived in the wrong area? Her profile too perky? Her profile too mundane? She wasn't thirty something? WHAT?
She could never find out what it was that prevented her from finding a genuinely attractive man. And then she noted what she turned down in those ordinary, average men who had winked at her profile and she listened to the subtle, silent judgments she made on the basis of their profiles. She too was mercenarily shallow enough to base her assessment of them by the words they used, if their faces were too round, they were carrying too much weight, or they were inarticulate and silly sounding. She was little interested if they seemed inordinately "dumb" even when she knew they probably were great people despite appearances. They were often too old and their profile pictures made better mug shots for Police Wanted posters than romantic lures. It begged the question as to whether these men were merely desperate or just needed some feminine guidance on personal presentation. Jorga decided it was probably both.
Staring at the screen and observing 'Only14U's' very average profile - sans profile picture - she concluded that the slave trade had not yet died. The exchange rates were different of course but this stuff was voluntary human trafficking nonetheless and therefore a romantic grand disillusionment. A meat market with a large promise of lifetime romance that only rarely delivered and then mostly to the lucky, gorgeously endowed few.
She clicked "Cancel subscription". Her anxiousness passed and her smile widened on her round, aging face. She knew she was better than any online date could guess from two hundred words. She was more intelligent than her attempts at being clever with words could convey, better looking in real life than her photo's suggested, sweeter, kinder, more warm-hearted and far, far more lovable than a page on an internet dating site could ever display. She was Jorga McGuire and that was enough.
A large weight shifted slightly, in her heart and she felt the first flutterings of her self confidence rising up again. She would meet someone...eventually.