Meet Barbara Ensor, artist, writer and intrepid dating night panelist. Barbara has big eyes, a blond pixie and can always be spotted in a crowd because she is never without a brightly colored pointy wool hat and usually a bright woolly wrap to go with. Her look is part pinup girl, part Laplander Princess.
Those of us who have known her have marveled at the new life she has made for herself with a wise and handsome man she met on her first date through Match.com. We needed to hear the story.
UNtied: You were the go to gal for me when I was splitting up, even though we hadn’t been in touch for years. All I knew was that you had split from your husband, and when I next saw you, you had a wonderful new person in your life. I recall running into you shopping one day-you were buying pillows– and you were positively floating across the department store floor. You had one of those other worldly smiles, like you were in communication with the gods. I was still married at the time, and typically harried. I recalled not enjoying my housewares shopping nearly much as you seemed to be. I recall thinking “she is on to something good!”
Later, when I was in the midst of my own divorce, you told me that you actually spent months so devastated you could hardly get out of bed. What I wonder is how you pulled yourself up and together and ultimately out the door to meet a stranger you had only seen online?
Barbara: Actually, I got divorced ten years ago, right before I turned fifty. I met Ariel five years ago, so for half that time, I was on my own. It wasn’t really all that fast.
UNtied: How much time did you spend on your profile? Did you get other people to look at it before you put it up?
Barbara: I remember being in a big rush. I don’t think people generally still feel this way, but I was worried that my husband’s colleagues or friends would see my profile up and have a good laugh. It was a humiliating thought. So I wanted to go online really quickly, do the experiment and have it be over. I think I was looking for a way to say ‘See? I tried online dating!’ and then go back to feeling sorry for myself. So I think I just crashed on it and got it up as fast as I could.
UNtied: And I think you said you had no photo on your profile. For reals??
Barbara: Actually, I didn’t, that’s true, it was part of my rush. That’s how I seem to do things. I put things off and then go sort of intensely at it. Maybe that contributed a little to my wanting to make it work, that feeling of being in a rush.
UNtied: Don’t tell me he didn’t have a photo either?
Barbara: He did! It was a very nice picture actually. I messaged him first. He was very brave to respond.
UNtied: So what was the common thread between you do you think?
Barbara: Oddly enough I think it was two words we both mentioned in our profiles.
UNtied: Oh? What were they?
Barbara: Fairy Tales. I think I wrote something like “fairy tale writer would like to have her own happy ending.” He feels that thousands of fairytales from around the world as a child saved his life so he included the word fairytale as well and the computer matched those unusual words.
UNtied: So, you did this risky, kooky thing which was, you suggested for a first date that you get together and not say a word to each other! That’s so…Marina Abramovic!! What prompted that?
Barbara: I was having acute pre-encounter verbal anxiety! I already felt very aligned with him (for no good reason) and decided he must be feeling this very same anxiety at this very same time. As a magnanimous gesture, I impulsively called with the suggestion that neither one of us should be allowed to say anything for the first several minutes (maybe it was five, maybe ten). “Not say anything?” asked the stranger on the other end of the phone. I confirmed this was my suggestion. I waited, squirming. Then came his answer. Yes, he could agree to my request if I could agree to his. He would like for us to not say anything while we walked around the block. So he managed to strike an elegant balance between aquiescing and asserting himself and the dance had begun!
Barbara: The situation we found ourselves in was funny and intriguing, kind of a mirror of the absurd situation that an internet date actually is. For me, it was absolutely love at first sight. He looked familiar and sexy and beyond wonderful. For him it was more measured. I think I can accurately speak for him in saying he felt hopeful, but reserved judgement.
UNtied: Wow, here’s to taking a risk when you feel you have nothing to lose!
Barbara: I wouldn’t wish abject misery on anyone, but there does seem to be something magical –in stories and in real life –about things getting really hopeless before they get better.