Joanie

My friend Joanie's having doubts about David, a man she met on the Internet. The lawyer-turned business owner is expressive and sweet. After two months of dating he claims he's found the girl of his dreams and would be willing to have a child with her. But he still hasn't gotten around to taking his photo off J-Date. Joanie has reason to believe he's carrying on a text message affair with at least one other woman. She'd be angrier if she weren't trying to get pregnant with Daniel.

Daniel is the man the 43-year old editor would have married had Daniel's wife not firmly put her foot down. Joanie and Daniel are still good friends. When he offered to donate sperm if she wanted to have a baby—in vitro, or the more traditional delivery system if she preferred—Joanie thought he was being polite…which is a whole new chapter for some future Miss Manners. When he also offered to support the child—without leaving his wife—Joanie realized it was a far better deal than she'd ever get from the sperm bank. And having once loved the father, she figured, probably ought to count for something. Call her a traditionalist.

If the last time you dated was before they invented emoticons and you're considering reentry, fasten your seat harness. The spacetime of middle-aged dating has been warped by hyperspeed communications, the dilation of the biological clock by advances in reproductive technology, and, some people would claim, just the general condition of the world going to hell in a hand basket. It's enough to raise doubt about another friend's long held contention that the only thing worse than dating is not dating.

It's anarchy out there. Most Internet daters tend to multi-date, scheduling four or five "meet and greets" a week stacked up like they're in a holding pattern over LaGuardia. I'm all in favor of efficiency. And I respect someone who's goal oriented. But please don't ask me about my genetic history before we've even met. I like to get warmed up before discussing my chromosomes.

In the event that David turns out not to be a sleaze with families in four states, Joanie thinks she might want to stay with him, even get married. But it's too early to have a baby with him. For that there's Daniel. She wonders how David will feel at the thought of her being pregnant with another man's child. I suggested she tell him by email. I wonder if there's an emoticon for that one.

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"Hi Lanie! We were so happy to celebrate with you and Bud! What an incredible gift we have been given, through YOU! How cool is that? Do you just love your job at times like this?"

Craig & Amy in Greenfield

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