© By Myron J. Kukla
Computer dating sites are all the rage among people too busy working to pursue the opposite sex in traditional ways like meeting strangers in bars and stalking.
Ads for Internet matchmaking services like eHarmony.com, match.com and russianbrides.com are everywhere. Whenever I hear an advertisement for one of these places, I am reminded of my own venture in running a computer dating service back in my college days in the 1980s.
It all started one Friday night when a couple of us guys were sitting around watching “Brady Bunch” reruns on television while making rude comments about Marcia when a commercial came on for a computer dating service. It touted the advantages of making the perfect match by a computer scientifically comparing your personality preferences to a database of other would-be partners.
“What pathetic kind of losers would need a computer dating service to find a date on a Friday night?” asked Fred, who had recently escorted his cousin to the winter formal and had a fondness for biting his toenails. We looked at Fred, then ourselves and realized we had found a market for computer dating — Friday night losers.
Within a half hour, we had sketched out plans to start a computer dating service at our college. Fred would handle the computer matching because he was a computer science major, Joe — a psychology major — would put the profile questionnaire together and I would handle the advertising in the student newspaper.
Three weeks later we ran our first series of ads. “Tired of sitting around the dorm by yourself on Friday nights? Now Scientific Computer Dating Service can get you the dates you’ve been missing. You’ll get the names and phone numbers of people who match your profile, every week,” read the ad copy.
By the next Monday, 24 students had forked out $30 each for us to help them find their dream partner. They sent the money to a post office box and we sent them personality profiles to fill out. The questionnaires were just a formality, though. In our first batch of applicants, we got 21 guys signing up and three girls. It didn’t take a computer to figure out that each girl was going to get calls from 21 guys for dates.
So we ran another batch of ads to even out the numbers and got another two dozen guys signing up. Now, each of the girls in our computer dating services would be getting calls for dates from 45 different guys.
In the meantime, the first batch of guys started writing us letters complaining that we kept sending the names of the same three girls each week. So we started to misspell and alter the three girls’ names so they looked like different coeds on paper.
We lucked out on the third set of ads, which brought in one new girl. It also brought in two dozen new guys. The original three girls were now being barraged hourly by 80 companionship-crazed guys calling them for dates.
Eventually, the three girls began writing letters of complaint about our service and demanding their money back. We wouldn’t reply. We just kept sending their names to the same guys on our lists and others who had signed up.
The girls started writing us to keep the money, just take their name off our stupid list. One girl even offered to pay us to drop her name from this list. Another said she was getting married and the third wrote us she had died and would no longer need our service.
We just ignored their pathetic pleading letters and kept sending the ladies’ names to an increasing number of college guys who kept signing up for the promised perfect match.
This was strange because we had stopped advertising. Even without it, we kept getting more applications from guys every week and none were complaining any more. It was then we realized that we hadn’t gotten a single complaint letter from the fourth girl who had signed up for computer dating.
So we called up “Heidi,” our uncomplaining client, and found out why she had no complaints. Heidi was a hooker who had evidently been keeping our male clients happy.
The information produced a moral dilemma for the three partners. Unknowingly, we were involved in a prostitution ring, something that was obviously against the law and could get us arrested. On the other hand, Heidi offered to cut us in on part of her take if we kept the computer dating service going.
In the end, Joe and I got out of the computer dating business, completed our degrees and went on to become upstanding citizens. The last we heard of Fred and Heidi, they had moved to California where they were running a successful computer dating service.
West Michigan writer Myron Kukla is the author of several books of humor including “Guide to Surviving Life” available at squareup.com/store/myronkuklabooks. Email myronkuklabooks.com.