Feb. 12, 2008 -- If someone had told me five years ago that I'd be spending another Valentine's Day at home with my dogs, I would have said that person was nuts.
Understanding that the man of my dreams isn't going to knock on my door and beg to buy me a 5-carat diamond, I have been trying to scrounge up a boyfriend in a very 21st century kind of way: I shop around on the Internet.
My latest attempt was with New York-based CrazyBlindDate.com. Rather than go through the exhaustive process of creating a profile and then nitpicking through the profiles of others, Crazy Blind Date matches clients, based on their schedules and some basic criteria, such as education and height.
It's free, and it's supposed to be quick. The idea is that clients can request a Saturday night date on Friday, or even that morning, and be sipping mojitos in four major U.S. cities by nightfall.
So far, Crazy Blind Date matches singles in Austin, San Francisco, Boston and New York. This week, its co-founder announced launches in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.
I signed up for the first time on a Friday morning, looking for a date the next night. I picked a solo date — double dates are a possibility — and created a user name and a password. Then I got to pick my date's preferred height (above 5'7'' please), his education (high school diploma was the least educated choice), his age (my age plus six years older), and smoking preference (no, thanks!). There were a couple of other options, including race and ethnicity, which I left blank.
Then I picked the neighborhoods I was willing to travel to, and times I was available. The site requests you stick close to your e-mail or your phone, as the Crazy Blind Date cupids will send you a notification when they match you, and it could be as soon as 15 minutes before they want you to be there.
I also was asked to create a spunky tag line to go with my profile — "There's got to be more to Saturday nights than Netflix" was my best shot — and upload a picture of myself that they scrambled for my match, to give him at least some idea of what I look like, though all you could tell from mine was that I had one head and was wearing orange.
Then I waited. Friday night came and went. No date. Nothing in my inbox on Saturday morning, except some credit card offers and a forward from my grandparents.
I should also mention that, while I was asked to confirm both my e-mail and my cell phone number with a code that CrazyBlindDate.com sent to me, I was never given a code for my cell phone, even after I requested it be resent several times.
So, at 6 p.m. — the start of the time frame I had requested — I made myself dinner. At 7 p.m., I threw around some toys for the dogs. At 8 p.m., I was in my jammies, figuring I could just get dressed again, if need be. By 9 p.m. — now, one hour away from the end of my time frame — I was on the couch with a Kevin Bacon movie in the DVD player.
Two weeks later, I tried again.
I updated my profile to expand the age limits, and took away the height requirement, though I kept my no smoking preference — a girl's got to have standards.
It was, again, a Friday morning, and I was looking for my future husband to meet me on Saturday in some nondescript bar in Manhattan. Or in the Bronx, or in nearby Hoboken, N.J. (I had expanded my neighborhood search option too.) By Saturday morning, I had other plans with friends in the city. I diligently checked my e-mail up until the time I left, and then again from a friend's cell phone. Nothing.
So, I quit. Apparently, there is not one non-smoking, high school graduate that's at least 4 feet tall, in all of New York, to meet me for a drink.
Sam Yagan, chief executive officer and co-founder of Crazy Blind Date, said I did the right thing by being open to a wide range of people. My date-less Saturday nights could have been because the men meeting my criteria had already been set up with other women, or that they didn't respond when the site tried to match them with me.
The company, which Yagan described as "part social experiment, part general interest in launching great products," has gotten some positive feedback so far. After testing the site in Austin in October, and expanding to San Francisco, New York and Boston in November, Crazy Blind Date surveyed its first 1,000 users, and found that 40 percent reported feeling some romantic connection on the first date. Twenty percent, Yagan said, had already gone on a second date with their match.
The idea of this Web site sounded promising. After all, it looks to get people dates that same day, if they want. At some of the big name Internet dating sites, it can take weeks to make a connection, and many times, the interest fizzles in the e-mail phase. And that's what Crazy Blind Date was set up to avoid.
Yagan, 30 and married, said the idea was borne out of his work as CEO and co-founder of OkCupid.
"We thought, in all honesty, it was pretty lame to pay for online dating," he said.
Yagan, who estimates New York City users to be in the thousands, said he tapped into his single friends' online dating experiences when creating this site. Many women were frustrated with the amount of upkeep required at traditional dating sites, including answering dozens of profile questions, and then sorting through all the e-mails from their matches. Men, he said, complained that there was no spontaneity -- that it sometimes took weeks to get a woman to go out with them.
While the site does aim to match singles quickly, the earlier a person is in the queue, the more likely they are to get a date, Yagan said.
Some of my friends questioned whether Crazy Blind Date was safe, something the founders answer in their FAQ section, by reminding potential daters that the meetings are arranged in public places, and that it's as safe as meeting a stranger from any of the other Internet dating sites.
I'm not sure if Internet dating is for me. I figure there are enough strange experiences to be had out there, without actually looking for them.
Who knows? Maybe my true love really will knock on my door. Note to self: pay closer attention to the guy monitoring my electrical meter.