I believe I’ve mentioned before that I met my other half on a dating site online. At the time, I was logging about sixty hours “face time” at my job and didn’t have much wiggle room to look for suitable companionship. Work, not my choice of venue for finding eligible men, was composed mainly of young techies, married men, two guys who dated each other, and women. Not an excellent pond to cast my net in.
One of my best friends had a friend who found the love of her life online. Spurred on by her friend’s success, her love life being in a slump, and not being very computer literate, she asked if I’d help her set up a profile. Armed with a wheel of French brie and a delicious baguette, and fueled by several glasses of chardonnay, we spent an evening creating her on-line persona. The cursor poised above the “publish” button, her feet got colder than Medusa’s heart. After some prodding she said she would do it if I would participate as well. That way, I guess, if the ship sank, she wouldn’t be alone in the water. So “Sweet Susie” was born and slipped quietly into the dating queue. I hear you laughing out there.
Forgetting about it completely in the chaos of my life at the time, my friend emailed me several weeks later to say she’d had quite a few responses. It seemed none she found earth shattering. I didn’t get back to check on how “Sweet Susie” was faring until sometime after that. Not being familiar with the inner workings of the site, at first I found nothing. Insert boo-boo lip here. Really, not even one borderline psychotic or recently defrocked priest? Fine. Then I noticed a blinking red light in the corner, red being the appropriate color I would guess, and clicked on it. The inbox indicated I had 50 responses. Good Lord, the mother lode.
I spent an hour sorting through the emails. It was like Cyber Bachelorette. Surprisingly, as I read the responses, most appeared, on the surface at least, to be fairly regular guys hoping to make a luv connection with someone of the female persuasion. This, of course, peppered with a few sleazy lounge lizard types, the guys posting pictures of themselves from their high school yearbooks, and the twenty year olds looking for a grateful woman over forty, delete and block. Sigh.
Generally, after introductions via emails, etc., the first question asked was if I’d been married. Put a big check in that box, yup. Explaining that I’d been married four times and widowed twice separated the chaff from the keepers in pretty short order, I have to say. Some of them you could smell the rubber burning through the computer.
Still hesitant about the whole thing and casually dating someone, I didn’t accept an invitation to meet for a drink for another month. For me, there was no question but that I drove my own car, met them in a public place, and this for a casual drink or coffee, not dinner, and not dessert, definitely not dessert.
The first man I met was the “eye in the sky” newscaster for a local radio station. Although attractive, and very well spoken, his sentences flowed out in mellifluous tones like a TV anchor and about ten octaves above normal, this most likely due to the loud blades on his helicopter, causing people sitting near us to continually be looking over their shoulders. No.
It was an interesting experience, I must say. Over a period of thirteen months I met a fireman, a farmer from Manitoba, a thirty-two year old Native American with a ponytail, a construction worker, a barefoot water skiing champion, and a college professor, to name a few. Sort of like dating a fully straight version of the Village People. Each man came with diversely varying interests. I hiked the beautiful trails of Mt. Tam with the construction worker, strolled along the beach at sunset with the fireman, and went to the theater and enjoyed excellent restaurants with the college professor. I felt like Igor, piecing together the perfect man from spare parts. It’s alive! It’s alive!
During that time I traveled by jet and then small plane to the outreaches of Manitoba and spent the week with a farmer, his parents and two grown children on their working farm. I learned to drive tractors, discovered things about the backsides of cows I could have gone a lifetime without knowing, went white water rafting, and had three tics removed from my back at one sitting. Interesting stuff that.
It was like finding yourself at a smorgasbord armed with a ladle and a trough. At one point, I met a man from my area for a quick meal at a restaurant close to my office. There was no spark of interest between us but we shared a cheeseburger and a laugh or two. After a couple of cursory phone calls following that night we trailed off in different directions and I didn’t see him again until my other half’s ex-wife introduced him to me as her fiance a year and a half later. A small and incestuous place it would seem this world of Internet romance can become.
In the middle of this year of dating gluttony, I found an email from my other half in my in box. Later he would tell me on his compatibility scale or whatever they gauge these things by, I was number two hundred and seventy or something bleak. In truth, I wouldn’t have put us together either. We’re as poorly paired as a bowl of beets and blueberries.
Speaking on the phone on numerous occasions, we finally settled on meeting for dinner on a Friday night and a hockey game. Not being able to stop talking we ended up at an adult playground in the area similar to Circus Circus, riding interactive motorcycles and shooting a game of pool. In the end I narrowed the playing field and found all the things I wanted in one totally unsuitable man. A lot easier on the nerves in the long run, well, most of the time.
This is an old tried and true recipe with a bit of a new punch. As with everything I tried it out on my two taste testers and they gave it a thumbs up. My mother always did these in the pressure cooker, but I’m still making peace with that kitchen appliance hence the stove top recipe. I ask the butcher to finely grind the beef but regular ground beef will work fine. Hope you like it!
Stovetop Porcupine Meatballs
1/2 green pepper
1 clove garlic
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef mince
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup cooked white rice
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. Cajun seasoning
1 Tbsp. parsley, chopped
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. sauce mix
2 8 oz. cans tomato sauce
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 tsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. parsley
salt and black pepper to taste
For the sauce:
Sweat onion, garlic and pepper flakes in olive oil over medium heat until onion is translucent (about 5 mins).
Add tomatoes and sugar. Simmer until tomatoes soften and skins begin to burst. Crush lightly with potato masher. Add parsley, and season as desired. Stir in tomato sauce and water. Set aside.
In food processor process onion, garlic and green pepper until chopped finely. Squeeze liquid out with a tea towel or double ply paper towels. Place in large mixing bowl. Add crumbled meat and 1 Tbsp. sauce mix and mix well with remaining meatball ingredients. Form into 1 1/2″ meatballs. Place meatballs in deep skillet over medium heat. Brown meatballs on all sides, turning often.
Spoon sauce over the top of browned meatballs. Cover skillet and simmer for 30-35 minutes, occasionally basting with sauce. Yum.