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Unconventional Wisdom | A mature man cruises cyberspace

Without realizing it, I wore the same shoes to my divorce proceeding that I'd worn on my wedding day 14 years earlier.

Without realizing it, I wore the same shoes to my divorce proceeding that I'd worn on my wedding day 14 years earlier.

"I don't know," I later said to my Aunt Norma. "There must be a poignant message or lesson there somewhere."

"Yeah," she said, pulling on a Newport. "Time to get new shoes."

So I bought a pair and signed on to

A study from the University of Washington shows that online dating services like Match, eHarmony and Perfectmatch report that their fastest-growing dating population consists of people over 50 years old.

This is my cohort now. And cyberspace - not the bars or concert halls - is where we're supposed to find one another, sparking electrons vibrating in the endless ether.

It's a strange world, no?

At first I was struck by the vastness of it: photo after photo, chirpy profile after chirpy profile. I'd log on and hear the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby" in my head: "Ah, look at all the lonely people / Where do they all come from?"

Then, of course, I'd give my head a "Duh!" thump and realize that I'm one of them.

I won't talk here about the women I met on dates. All I'll say is some were nice, some were not, and none had done time, that I'm aware of.

It's fascinating, though, to read what people write about themselves.

An astonishing number repeat a variation of the same line: "I'm as comfortable in a black cocktail dress as I am in jeans." This is supposed to communicate something important, though I fail to see what.

Many say they needed a glass of wine to fill out their Match profiles. Once the vino is swallowed, though, they manage to tell you that they are adorable, funny, deeply loving, loyal, smart and clever as Hillary Clinton. Their best features are their eyes and their butts.

They say they are simple, but they are walking Rubik's cubes of complexity. Reading between the lines, I see they have been bruised like tomatoes and are a bit breathless over how they ended up like this.

Many have been divorced twice, or are in their mid-40s and have never married. Children are either grown or absolutely inconceivable.

What they're looking for in men practically never varies. They want extremely masculine, guard-dog guys who aren't afraid to cry and share their welling feelings.

They want cute, flat-tummied grown-ups who can be endlessly amusing and silly. They want master-of-the-universe, independent entrepreneur types who still come home every night to cuddle and feed the cat.

And, despite the fact that there may be six guys like this in the world, spread from Micronesia to Chechnya, the Match women want these men to live within 15 miles of Media. (Oh, and they should make $100,000 a year or more. Important.)

Of course, I'm no better. I want Halle Berry with a Ph.D.

"Never mind that," my Aunt Norma might say. "Find a lady who smells nice and can cook a decent marinara. The rest will come."

We'll see, Aunt Norma. Meanwhile, I'm breaking in the new shoes.