Sunday, May 31, 2015

Question: How Old is Computer Dating?

As I approach my (or should I say, "as we approach our") 46th wedding anniversary, I had to laugh this morning at a story on the first dating service in America. That was -- hard to believe -- 50 years ago! And I was a part of it.
A group of guys at Harvard -- at a time when I was at nearby Wellesley College -- came up with the idea. They called it "Operation Match."
"We'll provide the match. You provide the spark," was their pitch.
Recognizing -- even while I was  still in my late teens --that this would be remembered as a seminal moment in history,  I kept a copy of the questionnaire.
The story by one of my favorite reporters, Michael Vitez, would make it appear that the questions were fairly comprehensive.  Actually they were straight forward, pairing couples up largely on the basis of such basic things as location, religion, depth of religious belief, sex -- and height.
One of my Wellesley friends, Susan, was matched with Harvard medical student, Fred. They weren't particularly surprised.  Both were already dating, and both are particularly short for their respective genders. Height probably played a huge part in the match algorhythm. They married. And are still married!!
I was matched with five guys, all living within a couple miles of my dorm. I vaguely remember meeting a couple of them. They must have been forgettable. None stuck.
Mixers were the more typical way of meeting in those days. Then, at least, you could size up the person quickly. (A bit like what one dating service touts today: "It's only lunch." ) Wellesley, an all-women's college (still), needed to lure guys to campus. I remember at one dorm mixer being asked to dance by a very tall guy. He must have been 6-foot-three or four. I'm five-foot-one.
After a song or two, I looked up from somewhere around his armpit and asked him: "What's it like to dance with someone so short?"
"It's great," he said, looking down at the top of my head. "You don't have to talk with them."
I met my husband the old-fashioned way: blind date. His college friend and my college friend decided we would get along. A lot more than getting along, of course, is involved in 46 years of marriage. And, too, more than those Operation Match questions could possibly fathom back in 1965.
There's that thing, though, they did identify but could not quantify or capture:
The spark.

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