Kevin had never had a girlfriend. Unless you counted chubby Sandra, who let him have a snog and a feel if he bought her some sweets. He thought she was his girlfriend for a while, at least until he found out that she had the same arrangement with Darren, and that bloke who delivered the pizzas on a moped.
Then there was Helen, the office girl at work. She acted like she might want to be his girlfriend, but she was five years older, and he didn’t want to look stupid by asking her out and getting a knock-back. When she left, Mr Reynolds told him he had missed his chance. He reckoned she had really liked him. “You need to spot the signals son”, he had said, tapping the side of his nose.
By the time his twenty-first approached, Kevin had to admit that he might be the only virgin of that age in the town. Everywhere he looked there were couples. Walking arm-in-arm, sitting together at bus stops, or in the back row at the cinema. All his mates were sorted. Even Darren had finally settled for chubby Sandra, and they had got engaged. She was even chubbier now that she was expecting his baby of course.
There was nothing for it but to accept his fate. Living with Mum and Dad was fine. They were easy going, and it was cheap too. He worked overtime at the factory, and soon had a lot of money put by. If ever he found his Miss Right, there would be enough for a deposit on their own place, that was certain. He talked to Mr Reynolds about it sometimes, as they sat eating their sandwiches at lunchtime. Although he was older than Dad, he seemed more like an older brother, and always had something positive to say. “It’s not that you are ugly, Kevin. You are much like anyone your age, and very presentable. But you have to push yourself more, son. You know, get out there. These days, the dating game isn’t all about meeting girls in pubs, or at parties. Get online, it’s all out there. Someone’s waiting, just for you”.
In his room that night, Kevin checked out some dating sites. The old laptop he had used at school might have seen better days, but it worked well enough for what he needed. He didn’t like many of the modern sites he had seen on his phone. The ones where you just swipe away who you don’t like, or save those you do. They would probably keep coming back as ‘No Match’ anyway, so he soon didn’t bother with them. On the fourth page of the Google Search, he found something more his style. A proper dating company, with the chance to see real profiles, lots of photos, and the opportunity to send a request to ‘Connect’. He liked the name of the company too. ‘Connect For Love’. He paid the registration fee with his bank card, selected a six-month membership, and began to list his options.
When his search parameters were done, he had the chance to review them.
Looking for: Female 18-24.
Likes: Films, TV, Quiet nights in, Pets.
Build: No preference.
Height: Under six feet.
Hair colour: No preference.
Eye colour: No preference
Religion: No preference.
Employment: No preference.
Now the site was prompting him to set up his own profile, and to add some photos. He went with the basics.
Single, age 21
Six feet tall.
Likes: TV, Films, Pets, Nights In, Pizza.
Employment: Mechanical Engineer.
He took a few selfies with his phone, just head and shoulders. Choosing what seemed to be the best one, he put it on the laptop, and added it as his profile picture.
With a deep breath, he hit the ‘Save Profile’ tab, and waited. The screen refreshed, and there it was. He was online, for anyone on that site to see. Moving the cursor to the top again, he clicked on the ‘Find Matches’ tab. Deep down, he expected it to come back with ‘No results’, or something similar. But he was amazed to see a huge list appear within moments. It kept loading, until it declared, ‘Found. 96 matches’. Giving a low whistle, Kevin decided to pop downstairs and get a bottle of Dr Pepper from the fridge. This could take some time.
Although he normally liked to be in bed before twelve, it was close to two before he finally closed the laptop. So many choices, and all within the chosen twenty mile radius too. The majority of them were in the town itself, and he had been surprised to actually recognise some of the women from his old school on the site. Despite the age range he had selected, many had already been married, and listed themselves as separated or divorced. After a head-spinning night of scrolling back and forth, he had saved eight profiles to his ‘Favourites’.
Turning out the bedside lamp, he hoped he wouldn’t oversleep. He was never late.
Sleep was hard to come by for once. The faces in the photos kept popping into his mind, and he was already excited about getting home from work later, and sending the selected women his ‘Introductory Message’. And although he had whittled down the list to just the eight he really liked the look of, one face and name kept rising to the top in his head.