Recently, I embarked in a dubious  experiment--I signed up for an online dating service. Thing is, I am not looking for romance. Last year, I lost the love of my life and I think it would be unfair to expect to duplicate the kind of closeness we had.   Anything else in the romance department pales by comparison. Then there is the question of age. I am at the end of my sixth decade. At this stage, if one has not learnt to function as a single unit, one is in serious trouble. For the most part, I am OK being on my own. I have several interests that keep me entertained and when I occasionally need help,  a few good friends and neighbors come to the rescue. What I miss is the companionshiop of someone with whom I can share a good meal, a visit to the museum, a walk by the river. This does not seem too much to hope for, but  the sad reality is that in our society, most people socialise with their coevals. In my village, folks socialise with family embers, fellow church goers, colleagues from work, Rarely do circles of young couples, for example, merge with trhose of single Third Agers.One's companion does not have to be a man, but most of the women I know are too busy with their husbands, their families,  book clubs, Elderhostel and who knows what else to add anew  friend to their circle.

Many retired people who create opportunities for human contact by plunging  into volunteer work. Their primary motive might be altruism, but there is no question that  comraderie  is a strong incentive. I am not, by nature, a group person. I loved my work as a freelance writer for many reasons. Not  being confined to a newsroom, not being part of the politics of the workplace, not being expected to attend  the office party, were high on the list of pluses. I had the occasional lunch and dinner with a congenial editor and that was that.

Some retired people are joiners, just as they were when they were at work. No doubt many transition seemlessly from high activity levels to higher ones. Not so with me. I live quietly, I tend a flock of chickens, I write fiction,  do some gardening, read, bake all my own bread,  publish an occasional book reviews, dabble at watercolor painting, sketching and silversmithing. I like my life. I love my house and its location. Why bother with a largely discredited online dating service in order to find a a platonic companion? Simple, No companions appeared, unbidden, at my door. Some were bidden and tempted with organic fresh eggs, but alas, they had no free room in their agendas.

Hence the Golden Carrot Dating Services experiment. Is it going to work? I doubt it. A sample of my so-called matches is somewhat discouraging. There s a significant number of doctors and lawyers among the offerings proffered by Golden Carrot. Most live in large urban centers. Most claim to make 100k a year. Nearly all claim to be athletic. Most are looking for a twenty something partner " care for. " Many  demand an equally athletic partner. I am doomed. Walking the cat downstairs  is my idea of strenuous exercise.
Athletic or not, truth is that  hardly anyone seems to be looking for a friend unless it is a friend who is willing to be, shall we say, test driven. Why, I ask, at such advanced age, is sex a precondition for a trip to the National Art Gallery? At the moment,  only one of the men who looked at my profile has e-mailed me. He lives in the Southwest, he is ten years younger than I and he is   and eastern Europen looking for Romance. Methinks he wants to romance a sponsor for American citizenship. That is bad of me, but I know of such cases happening in real life. He sent me his phone number on his third e-mail and my reaction was, "Whoa there, cowboy! It is early days yet."

When I said that Golden Carrot was a dubious experiment I meant that it is a huge gambleto connect with strangers. As reader an writer of crime novels I immediately think of serial murderers lurking online. I think of the expense of checking people's criminal--a gamble in itself if they use a false name--and I wonder what in tarnation I am doing. Push comes to shove I know at least one guy who might go to the museum with me. He is looking for a decorative woman twenty years his junior to keep house, and cook for him, but he knows I know his proclivities. Stay tuned.


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