Last Saturday I went on a blind date, something I hadn’t done since college when my date Mike brought along his dog Bandit and he kept trying to lick my face, which really grossed me out because he did it in front of Bandit.
Fortunately, Mike moved on and I went on to marry a wonderful man who didn’t bring his dog on our dates, until after we got engaged . . .
So why would an aptly harried, I mean, happily married woman go out with a man on a blind date?
A. A mid-life crisis
B. An act of passion
C. To keep up with Kris Kardashian
D. All of the above
The answer is: E. There is no E, you say? That’s because it’s a trick question. My date was not with a man, but with a woman. A woman I met online. A woman who uses an alias. A woman who calls herself Paprika Furstenburg.
Sound like a Jewish spice you’d want to sprinkle on your knish?
Well, Paprika is actually a writer of the blog, Good Humored, a funny perspective on everyday experiences. I “met” her last fall when we began reading each other’s blogs and exchanging comments. It was a give and take arrangement based on mutual respect, trust, and support, much like a marriage, only we didn’t fight over money.
Over time our relationship blossomed into a friendship. I use the term friendship loosely because unlike my other friends, I had never seen her mug shot and couldn’t pull her out of a lineup if my life depended on it.
I enjoyed the mystique of not knowing who Paprika was or what she looked like. Living in an information age with social media tools like Facebook that make every last detail about our lives public down to our last bikini wax, I found her anonymity refreshing. Yet at the same time, part of me yearned to meet her.
Opportunity knocked when my friend Ronnie from Morristown Memos (“True stories with a twist”), who had also befriended Paprika online, invited Paprika and me to lunch. Although I felt conflicted about ending the mystery, I couldn’t resist the chance to meet the illustrious spice girl.
We decided to meet at a restaurant equidistant from our respective homes. “You’re meeting a stranger for lunch?” asked my thirteen- year-old son as I was walking out the door. He was right to be concerned when, without knowing Paprika’s real name, I had been unable to do a background check as I do with my other friends . . .
I felt slightly nervous, and wondered: What would she look like? What would she sound like? Should I bring mace?
I was comforted by the fact that we shared some important things in common: she lived in New Jersey, she was Jewish, and she blogged. I didn’t even share those things in common with my husband when I first dated him.
Ronnie and I arrived at the restaurant promptly at noon, and immediately spotted the redheaded Paprika waiving at us in the empty lobby. I was a little disappointed that she wasn’t holding a balloon, a short person trick she said she sometimes used in these situations.
She had no problem recognizing me since more of my headshots adorn my blog than presidential portraits adorn the White House walls.
Relief washed over us when we realized we were all unarmed. We greeted each other with hugs, and once seated, talked nonstop for two hours. The conversation wasn’t peppered with punch lines as you might expect of humor writers, but only because we were too busy digging into each other’s personal lives—and personal pizzas.
Paprika seemed as genuine and trustworthy as she does on her blog, which explains why she didn’t even flinch when Ronnie and I both got up to use the restroom when the bill came.
When I returned home my husband asked, “So, how was your date with Oregano?”
“Her name is Paprika,” I said. “Her husband is named Oregano . . . and we had a great time.”
“How old is she?” my son asked.
“Around my age,” I answered.
“So she’s old, “ he said.
I shot him a look.
My family could joke all they wanted, I was just happy that I had finally crossed the line of virtual friendship with Paprika into reality . . . and that she didn’t once try to lick my face.
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