Never mind your weight—what’s your favorite band?

Forget Sleepless in Seattle — I’m Dateless in Asheville.

When the shelves of local stores filled with valentines and chocolates the day after Christmas, I determined that in 2003, I would have dates. I would be a dater of men.

How does one like me go from being dateless to being a dater? I don’t meet new people through work, and the rest of my day is spent with my daughter.

To find these men that I planned to date, I would have to seek them out.

Being technically inclined, I immediately went to the Internet. There are many national online dating services available — including Match.com, AmericanSingles.com and Kiss.com — but the idea behind all of them is the same: For about $25 a month, singles can post photos and biographies in hopes of attracting a love interest.

Internet dating services appeal to me because I don’t want to give my phone number out to someone new; e-mail is infinitely safer and more convenient. At AmericanSingles.com, I used the search tool on their home page to see what men were available in my age group within 20 miles of my zip code. I clicked through 96 profiles of local men, amazed that that many single guys lived within driving distance.

Several profiles yielded men far younger than I’d had in mind, but to refine my search, I would have to pay the membership fee, and I wasn’t yet ready to part with cash in my quest for love. So I moved on to Match.com.

Their search tool is similar to that of AmericanSingles.com but has one definite advantage: You can be much more specific about the age group you’re interested in browsing. My search yielded about 50 hits fitting my desired parameters. I clicked through several handsome prospects but failed to find a profile that resounded with the wit and intelligence I sought.

I browsed until I hit the profile of someone I knew — and suddenly, I was embarrassed to be searching a national Web site for a date.

Only real freaks need apply

Meet A Freak is a message board featured on local Web site www.FreakinAsheville.com. Whether one is looking for love or just looking to make new friends, there’s no charge to read and post on the Meet A Freak board. I posted several messages indicating my single status.

Reading through the posts a few days later, I found a man who claimed he was my perfect match. “Sean,” in his early 30s, works in the technology field and is moving to Asheville in the coming months. He was forward enough to send me his photo and ask if we could go to dinner when he gets settled in his new abode. At first I found the prospect thrilling, but Sean turned out to be more creep than freak.

My dating research continued with the Xpress Personals. Browsing the “Men Seeking Women” section, I discovered more than 50 bachelors who’d taken out ads to meet their Ms. Right. For $1.99 a minute, you can respond to these personal ads via telephone.

Predictably, many of these men gave their weight in their ads — I’d rather know whether they like pizza and the Crank County Daredevils — but I resolutely made my way through the listings, pen in hand.

After I’d pared the list down to nonsmokers in my age group, I narrowed it further, scratching out those ads that seemed iffy. (For example, many men listed a desire for a woman who is “into the outdoors” — and while I like being outdoors, being “into” it seemed to entail a whole separate set of characteristics.)

Finally, I chose one candidate in his mid-30s who had mentioned both being a parent and an interest in computers. When I dialed the number and entered his ad code, a recorded voice informed me that this individual had placed his ad on the Internet and had no recorded message — but I was welcome to leave a message for him if I wished.

At $1.99 a minute, I felt I had to speak quickly, so I left him my e-mail address, and, two days later, I still hadn’t heard from him.

I was curious about some of the other ads, but since it costs $10 just to leave someone my e-mail address, is it too much to ask to first see the results of this effort before spending more money?

With a little help …

Besides trying to track down a date by myself, I begged my friends to corral the single men they knew and fix me up with blind dates.

A friend agreed to connect me with an acquaintance of hers, offering me this brilliant advantage over the typical set up: She was going to take me to see “Ed” where he worked (to him, I’d look like any other customer).

I didn’t care whether he was stunningly handsome; rather, I just wanted to make sure Ed looked like he showered regularly and possessed decent communication skills. He did seem to be quite clean and friendly, so I gave my friend the thumbs-up, and Ed and I should soon find out if we have anything in common other than good-hygiene habits.

Another friend offered to set me up with her best pal, “Ryan,” so he and I began trading tidbits of info via e-mail. Thirty-year-old Ryan works in the restaurant business and has never been married. His hobbies didn’t exactly mesh with mine, since I don’t know how to shoot pool or throw darts, but his e-mails were sweet, so I planned to meet him for dinner.

Scheduling conflicts and then my inconvenient bout with walking pneumonia kept us from getting together, but it was comforting to think that someone out there actually wanted to meet me in person. And with several ways to meet someone new even without leaving home, there’s no reason not to be in touch with other singles in the Asheville area.

True, I haven’t had a date yet as a result of my efforts — but at least my e-mail box is full.

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