Jaci Stephen: 'Like snowflakes, every man is different. But an awful lot of them are alike'

Way Out West
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The Independent Online

Maybe I got the wrong Staples, but when I went to the Michael Jackson party, I came away with a Hewlett-Packard laser printer.

My social life is clearly going to need better organising, but as I still haven't purchased the car everyone insists I must have, my options are limited. Last week, I therefore signed up to an internet dating site.

Having had the opportunity to observe the male species operating through different international sites, I now feel the same about men as I do about snowflakes. Yes, every one is different, but let's be honest: an awful lot of them are pretty damned alike.

I like men a lot, and I have great male friends. But did I really need to travel 6,000 miles across the Atlantic to learn that being a complete dolt is not confined to men in the UK?

On a British dating site, if you are a woman over 30, it is pointless putting your real age on a site, as most men think that 24 is really pushing it – irrespective of whether they are 20 or 80. Large breasts are much in demand, as is blonde hair and no baggage. The men invariably have more baggage than a Louis Vuitton warehouse, but as a woman you won't be considered unless you can fit yours into an overhead locker and still have room for a multi-storey car park.

French men set more store by brains than breasts, and their dating sites offer far more esoteric activities than their British counterparts. In Paris, I attended an evening where the subject was "So you think you know about love", and for three hours everyone joined in the debate without making a hit on anyone. When the evening finished, it was not to the most obviously physically attractive women that the men flocked to, but the ones who had made the most intelligent contribution.

If there is a singles scene in LA, it has so far eluded me, hence my signing up to a US site. I thought I would narrow my search to LA and had I been able, would have narrowed it further to the distance between my apartment and the Jimmy Choo shop on Rodeo Drive, such is my reluctance to drive.

Television commercials informed me that 20,000 people a day join the site I signed up to (whose privacy I will protect, pending any lawsuit I might bring for the "guaranteed" matchmaking part of their pitch that I suspect will not happen); and after supplying my details and adding some pictures, I waited for the computer to go into meltdown.

Now, what I've never understood about internet dating is that when you specify you want a non-smoking, slim, health-conscious, funny, creative guy over 6ft tall, every chain-smoking, overweight, alcoholic, humourless construction worker straight out of midget school thinks that he is just the guy for you. Oh yes, and although you have narrowed your search to LA, he doesn't believe that commuting from Texas will be a problem.

When they are keen, they are very, very keen. One man had recently moved to Washington but was all set to come to LA, if I just gave him the nod. Another contacted me from Liverpool, saying that he had decided to cast his net further afield (so why target the only British LA-based woman on the site? Weird. Big net – fear of fish). Having also said that I did not want any heavy religion in my soul mate, I appear to have attracted the attention of every "saved" man in America, who all but asks if it's OK if the Lord comes along on our dates. I already feel that there are three people in our relationship.

This being health-conscious LA, most men stress their love of the outdoors. To be honest, I don't like any place where I can't see a Marriott sign just by standing on a small box, so I have pretty much ruled out what seems like 90 per cent of the tent-loving city.

I also foolishly ticked a box indicating that I lifted the occasional weight. This has somehow become translated into something much more impressive than it actually is, and many men appear in my "Interested" box with the headline "Like you, he enjoys weight-lifting", which isn't quite the same thing as taking a couple of cans off the supermarket shelf a couple of times a week.

With my options quickly diminishing, who knows: my next stop might be trekpassions.com, a dating site for lovers of Star Trek. I already hear myself complaining about their ears.

To read Jaci Stephen's blog, LANotSoConfidential, go to: lanotsoconfidential.blogspot.com