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By Eric Friedman

My father and I don't talk a whole lot. He's not really a phone guy, and I'm not really a "go back to New Jersey" guy, so our verbal interactions are limited at best. We get along fine, he's just a tough guy to have a conversation with. Very few things excite or interest him. He doesn't have any hobbies—doesn't collect anything or travel anywhere; doesn't read or listen to music. He's just a simple man who loves his dogs, loves his kids, and loves his wife. Pretty much in that order.

It ain't easy for my Dad and I to come up with things to talk about, but occasionally we find some stuff—he likes hearing about when I go to famous people's parties. Also, he calls every daylight savings time to remind me to adjust my clock. So there's some stuff. Unfortunately the last famous person party I went to was the same night as the clock changing, so when my dad called, the task of incorporating both these topics into a single conversation kinda overwhelmed him, and after twelve seconds he said, "Here's your mother," and he got off the phone, and we didn't speak again for weeks.

It would be easier if my Dad and I had a thing. A go-to conversation topic that we could always—well—go to. My dad and my brother Brian have a thing: Cell phone plans. See, my dad has a lot of free time—which I suppose is what happens when you cut out cumbersome stuff like hobbies and interests—and in this abundant free time, the guy likes to dick around on his computer, checking out the latest promotions being offered by your Sprints, your Verizons, your Cingulars, to the point where he can quote cellular plans with Rain Man-like accuracy. I could care less about cell phone plans. How can I get excited about rollover minutes when rollover minutes mean more time on the phone with my dad hearing about rollover minutes? But Brian can talk to my dad about that shit for hours. That's their thing. That's why they talk almost every day, while I'm on more of the "spring forward/fall back" schedule of Dad communication.

But the rapport between my father and I did undergo a change recently, all thanks to a new invention that I really think is gonna catch on—e-mail. It was early January, and I hadn't talked to my dad since the day after Kathy Griffin's Christmas party, so you can imagine my surprise when I opened my inbox, and saw that in addition to the bevy of reminders about the latest Howard Dean Meet-up event (delete), there were also four messages from my father.

Each of his e-mails had a different link at the bottom, but the text in every one was the same: "Dear E. I saw this profile on Jdate and thought you might be interested. Love, Dad."

And thus marked the transformation of Steve Friedman from do-nothin'-dad, to Jdate pimp.

For those of you who don't know what Jdate is—and god bless you if you don't—it's an internet dating service for Jews. Hence the J. I have been a member of Jdate for about eight months now. Hence the Y. As in "Why hasn't some Semitic princess taken this hot piece of Jew ass off the market?" It's the question everyone's asking. Well, at least it's the question my father is asking. Which is why I have received at least one of his pimp-mails every day for the past six months.

If anybody can tell me a more pathetic story, I will buy you a beer. (Unless your pathetic story involves alcoholism, in which case I'll make it a Jamba Juice.)

I don't know how my dad first stumbled across Jdate. And to be honest, I really don't want to know. I thought about calling my mom to see if she and my dad were still in love, but the truth is, I don't think they ever really were to begin with, so why rub that in her face? What I do know however, is that once my dad logged on to Jdate and discovered the yenta-friendly feature that lets you "suggest a match" for somebody else, my heretofore hobby-less father, theretofore found a hobby. He collects girls. And then foists them upon me.

At first, my Jdad applied a very selective set of standards to the girls he chose for me. I'm his first born son—you think he's gonna let just any girl through his matchmaking filter? No way. He screened those girls, and not one of them qualified as "Eric-worthy" unless she fit his three strict criterion: Female. Single. Able to give him grandchildren. Apparently, in choosing my new girlfriend, my dad gave very little thought to minor details like "compatibility" or "looks," or, she wrote in her profile, "Do not contact me if you are under 5'10." (Which reminds me, ladies—y'all gotta stop dissing the short dudes. I mean, I know I can only speak for this guy, but did you ever think that maybe, all those extra inches god shaved off the top, he tacked on down below? Just sayin'.)

Needless to say, my dad's initial Jdate harvest did not yield a bountiful crop. It was a loooong winter. But over time, I've attempted to educate the old man about the kind of girls I like by giving him feedback— much like I do with my Tivo via its thumbs up and thumbs down functions. Although like Tivo, my dad's track record is still pretty spotty, and for every Arrested Development caliber of girl he sends me, I get fifty ladies who are more in the According to Jim league. And if anybody reading this works on According to Jim, I meant Yes Dear.

And then there's his ignorance of L.A. geography. I have had a bitch of a time trying to teach my dad that even if he finds a girl for me who's gorgeous and hilarious and owns her own chocolate factory—if she lives in Tarzana, it's just not gonna work. Nothing against Tarzana—I'm just looking to date someone who lives in a more geographically desirable part of town. Like east of Fairfax, west of La Brea. Between Beverly and Melrose. Willoughby if she's really hot.

But even with the feedback, and the Thomas Guide I sent him, my dad still wasn't having any luck impressing me with his lady choices. Day after day he sent those e-mails, and day after day, I'd humor him and sift through his picks, only to decide that none of them were for me.

But then, one day out of nowhere, my dad hit the jackpot. He found a really cool, cute girl, and sent me her profile. I got in touch with her, we started hanging out, and even though it's only been three weeks, I'm pretty sure she's the one…

Yeah right. Like my life would ever be that good. I'm still just as single as I was the day I signed up for Jdate. Yeah, I've been on a lot of dates. A looooot of dates. I've even met some really cool girls. But I still haven't felt that… "MMMPH," you know? And I really want the "MMMPH." So I'll wait for it. As long as I have to.

My dad, however—not as patient. Apparently he's got some sort of biological grandkid clock, and it is ticking like a mo' fo'! There was a day last month—one day—when he sent me 33 girls' profiles. Thirty-fucking-three! The dude was freaking out! I was trying to embrace my singlehood, but I couldn't, because he was getting desperate. And his e-mails—which I used to find amusing, endearing, even cute—I started to find just plain annoying. And all I wanted to do was e-mail him back, and say, "Stop! Stop sending me these ridiculous e-mails. You've already sent me this girl's profile seven times, and I'm not interested in her, and not just because she lives in Northridge, but because she's not my type. I mean, come on—she loves John Mayer. She has cats. Plural. She uses the word spontaneous 11 times in her profile. And she spells it wrong every time. But even if that's just nitpicking, it's clear from what she wrote that she's plain and boring, and completely devoid of spunk or humor, and god damn it, I deserve a girl with spunk and humor, and anybody who knows me—who really knows what I'm about, knows that I'm a zillion times happier single and alone than I'd be in a relationship with a girlfriend who's all "girl" and no "friend." So please Da—do me a favor. Don't send me any more girls to check out. You're just making me sad."

But I didn't send that e-mail. And I never will either. Because a couple days later, my dad sent me a real e-mail—with words he actually wrote himself. The subject line read "I have no life." And inside was a three line message—all in lower case letters, and devoid of punctuation—like an homage to ee cummings. If my dad had any idea who that was. Here's what the e-mail said:

dear e. i know i am bugging you with all these jdates but you are my life and i would do anything for you so if i am bothering you with these girls just let me know and i will stop.

Man I love that guy.

I don't think he's ever said anything that nice to me out loud, but I guess out loud just isn't his thing. His thing is e-mail. Or talking about cell phones. Or making sure his kids never forget to set their clocks back. And now, thanks to Jdate, my dad and I have our thing. The other day, we talked on the phone for an hour. He was at his computer and I was at mine, and we surfed Jdate together, checking out girls. Yeah, I know—it's a little creepy, but it's way better than talking about unlimited anytime minutes.

It was pretty hilarious actually. He showed me his favorite girls—all quite bosomy, by the way—and I showed him my favorites. We debated who was hotter—SexyCaliGirl3, or SexyCaligirl29. I tried turning him on to Surfchick—he didn't like her because she smokes. He tried selling me on JEW-liette. I didn't like her because she spelled it "J-E-W-liette," and she said she was looking for her "Schlomeo."

I fucking hate Jdate.

But I'll never tell him that.

Keep that pimp hand strong, Dad.

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