After working for three decades for South Carolina’s capital city newspaper, The State, retired journalist, Bill McDonald, takes his skills from the newsroom to write an entertaining book about his adventures in online dating as a senior citizen. Old Geezer Romancing in Cyber Space vividly shares a tell-all of the good, the bad, the uncomfortable and the hilarious that makes online dating one of the most exciting adventures Mr. McDonald ever had.
This is the second book published from Mr. McDonald. His first book, Columbia, Cornerstone of the Carolinas is about the city he covered in the newsroom for thirty-two years. While that book was commissioned and had to be completed by a certain deadline, Old Geezer Romancing in Cyber Space allows Mr. McDonald to embrace his love for telling stories with humor and drama.
BREAKAWAY DAILY: Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
BILL MCDONALD: I worked thirty-two years for South Carolina’s capital city newspaper, The State. My skills stretched into every corner of the newsroom. I started out as a beat reporter, then worked variously as a feature writer and columnist. I also covered the state legislature briefly; wrote award-winning human-interest columns; reviewed symphony concerts when needed; served briefly as a food critic and covered the city’s nocturnal gaieties in a “Night Lights” column. After retiring from the newspaper, I also taught writing at the Buckley School of Public Speaking in Camden, S.C. One of my pupils was Navy Admiral Barry Black, now chaplain of the United Stated Senate.
I grew up in a small, historic town, Winnsboro, S.C., which has the oldest, continuously running town clock in America. Architect Robert Mills of Washington Monument fame designed the town’s court house; British Gen. Charles Cornwallis camped on the grounds of a boys’ school in Winnsboro during the Revolutionary War; American Gen. George Patton and his troops maneuvered in Winnsboro in the early years of WW11; and noted folk song collecter Alan Lomax included the “Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues” in his “Anthology of America Folk Songs.”
I am a graduate of the University of South Carolina with two majors, English and Psychology. I also am divorced and have no children, which I deeply regret. Before I became a fulltime newspaper journalist I also taught high school English, coached girls’ basketball, worked one summer at “The News & Courier” in Charleston, S.C., spent two semesters at the Florida State Graduate School of English and worked part-time at “The Tallah as see Democrat” newspaper.
BD: Tell us about your book Old Geezer Romancing In Cyberspace?
BM: The book covers my online dating adventures that began at age 69. Thanks to the computer and its dating websites, I was able to date women throughout the Southeast, meeting them where romance had a chance to blossom: the sloping meadows of a city park; the chic coffee houses in Charleston, Richmond and Savannah; the swank dining hall at the Biltmore near Asheville; and my all-time favorite food and entertainment emporium, “Mickey and Mooch” in Charlotte.
I met so-o-o many women, ranging from ridiculous to the sublime. One date in the ridiculous category greeted me while luxuriating, quite intentionally, in her bathtub. The sublime dates were those who had written books, were skilled in the culinary arts, had famous bloodlines or had won awards in their fields of work. The one with the most famous pedigree was the great granddaughter of Mark twain. I should also mention a sex therapist who insisted on “smudging” me before I could enter her home. This ancient ritual had her wafting smoke around my body to eliminate any negative vibes.
Throughout the writing I also was acutely mindful of the sensibilities of the women I had dated. In all but one instance, their names have been changed or omitted. I also toned down any pandering to prurient interests, which is to say my camera faded out before any mention of the boudoir.
In that regard, I’ll never forget a female critic’s take on novelist: John Updike, who wrote very descriptive lovemaking scenes in the tonier bedrooms of New England. “My God.” She gushed, “the man’s a penis with thesaurus!”
BD: Why did you want to write a book on this subject matter and your experience? Did you know before you started online dating that it had the potential to be a great story ?
BM: I never thought the internet dating I had begun would be worthy of a book. Not a sentence worth. What could occur on the dates of a sixty-nine-year old geezer like me, for instance, that would pique a reader’s interest? Keep someone spellbound? Or cause one to drop the book and explain: “Oh my God! This old fart must be making this stuff uppp!”
The highly salacious love scenes most readers crave, I imagined, belong to a much younger set of males — those robust, Adonis type who prance around like libidinous stallions in a field of adoring fillies.
BD: What online dating sites have you tried ?
BM: Match and Our Time
BD: You were a journalist for many years, do you think that influenced. how you approached not only these sites and dating, but also how you wrote the book ?
BM: My journalist background has seasoned my writing style and my thirst for good stories rich with humor and drama. Internet dating is a seedbed for such stories, given the frequent use of dated photographs and fudged ages. It has given birth to the quip: “ The odds for internet dating are good, but the good are often odd.”
Internet dating is a reversal of the old-timey way of dating, where you meet your prospective date first. Relying solely on computer information often leads to unexpected surprises fit for the movies.
BD: In the book, you describe online dating as the “brave new world” for singles. What is the biggest difference between looking for companionship in the ‘21st century’ to how you knew it before?
BM: While online internet dating sites require written profiles and facial photos, there’s no guarantee an online dater will live up to his or her written “advertisement”. Telephone conversations are highly recommended. If such precautions are taken beforehand, there should be little, if any, fear or unpleasant surprises.
BD: Was there a common thread you noticed with all your dates? Do you think it had to do with age or was there something else at play ?
BM: We are all social animals, regardless of age, and many of the women I met were grateful online dating had given them the opportunity to dare again. Some had been sealed off in small towns where men were scarce. As men age, some are stricken by prostate problems, which can kill sex. More than a few women told me that was often a problem.
BD: Do you think that the age is a factor or do you think no matter your age, people that are dating in cyberspace are all looking for the same thing?
BM: No matter the age, most online daters are looking for companionship or marriage. But women should be wary of the scammers on the internet. One friend, a nurse, was scammed out of all her savings, $300,000, by a man she fell in love with but never met.
Women should be wary of online scammers who are mostly male. They troll like sharks in the Christian dating sites, often sprinkling Biblical quotations in their early messages. Women on these sites are mostly “the pure of heart” and very susceptible and unsuspecting of false pleas for money to build a children’s or an orphanage in a country ravaged by war or famine.
BD: Do you have anything else you would like to say or mention?
Online dating has been one of the most exciting adventures of my life. And why not? Every first-time date might be the woman who’ll steal my heart away.
Old Geezer Romancing In Cyberspace is available via Amazon.