Delaware County resident Judith Hill had enough outrageous stories to tell after trying out online dating for six months that she could write a book! After Judith hung up her cyberspace search for a soulmate, she got out a pen and did exactly that.
“I Still Want Fireworks” is Hill’s very candid single-at-60 odyssey through life, love and online dating.
On the one-year anniversary of a divorce from her husband of 36 years, Judith signed up on Match.com at the insistence of one of her three sons. What happened in the months following her brave move is the bulk of the book’s content, as well as statistics, tips and loads of advice on the dos and don’ts of online dating, applicable for all ages, not just for the over 60 crowd. She passes on many tips that she learned through her own first-hand experience and also from her many friends who also tried online dating. She talks about everything from filling out a profile form, choosing a photo, being smart about safety, sifting through possibilities, spotting phonies and much more.
“I don’t want to rain on any woman’s hope parade,” she said. “My mission is to just warn women what they’re in for if they want to give this route a try.”
Here at the newspaper, a self-published author asks for a story about his or her book about once a week. I recently heard someone say, “Your book is your new business card.” In other words, it seems these days like everyone writes and self-publishes a book and uses it to represent who they are. A lot of these books leave a lot to be desired in many areas, from content to writing style to just being plain-old eye-glazed-over boring. But every once in a while, there will be a book that people, other than the writer’s relatives and friends, may want to read.
Since I can’t possibly write a story on every book that’s pitched to me, I have to pick and choose. There was something about Judith and the content of her book that was different and intriguing. Her sense of humor and vibrant, outgoing personality came out in our email exchanges, and I had an instinctive hunch that her book was going to be fun to read. Plus, I’m newsy, and this book sounded like it would be an honest tell-all, so I couldn’t resist.
The flight attendant, who lives in Essington, is also a humorous blogger (singleat60sucks.com). She told me that her blog is read in over 50 countries around the world. Back in the 1980s, she says, “when such novels were all the rage,” she published three romance novels through Kensington Press.
A self-proclaimed military brat, born in Fort Dix, N.J., she lived around the world, before settling in Phoenix, Ariz., after marrying. She raised sons Matthew, Jason and Daniel there. Judith now also has three grandsons. She originally came to Delaware County after taking a job as flight attendant on German-speaking American Airline flights out of Philadelphia to Munich. She really likes the area, relocated here and plans to stay.
A former high school teacher who taught German, English, history, government and economics, Judith reinvented herself as a flight attendant after a teacher layoff, getting her wings on her 48th birthday.
We set up a lunch date for the interview, and she sent me a review copy in advance.
“I Still Want Fireworks” has 33 easy-to-read chapters with names like “Age is a Number,” “Real Men Tell Tales,” “It’s In His Kiss,” “The Games People Play” and “You Better Shop Around.”
“I know my grammar, and I know how to research,” Hill told me. “My book is funny and a little sarcastic, but it’s factual and will be valuable to anyone who wants to try online dating. Anyone who has already tried it or is trying it now will also find it very relatable!”
Hill’s book is ripe with warnings. She says that one-third of the men on these dating sites are married but say they are separated. The average man wants 11 to 13 years younger than he is, and many aging men in the over-60 bunch are only looking for caregivers. Likewise, widowers often only want replacement wives.
“These men can look like the wrath of God, but they still want younger,” she rolled her eyes.
She also gave speed dating, set up through match.com, a try. Some people love this method, she said, but it definitely was not for her. During the same time period that she tried match.com, she also tried elitesingles.com. This site, she says, is supposed to have 80 to 90 percent white collar professionals with college degrees. Judith holds a bachelor’s degree in German, with double minors in history and Russian from the University of Northern California.
“I talk about my experience with Elite, too, in the book,” Judith remarked. “I don’t want to judge — let’s just say, I talk about the reality of it. Online magnifies the superficial.”
Judith warns readers not to believe the ads for these dating sites.
“They sell people hope,” she said. “View their statistics on how many daters meet their soulmates on their site with skepticism. Yes, about 25 percent may have met someone they dated more than once, but way more people, 75 percent, haven’t. People in their 20s and 30s don’t get the same rejection rates as those in the over 50 range.”
This must be true because I know quite a few younger couples who met online, and I’m sure you do, too. Online dating is a $2 billion a year industry, she said, and there are over 1,000 sites. There are sites that cater to vegans, single parents, cheated-on spouses, sugar daddies, every religion and more, she stated.
“If you can imagine it, there’s probably a site out there focused on it,” Judith chuckled, shaking her head.
Not all of Judith’s review of online dating is negative. She also gave some positive feedback.
“Online dating will allow a person to meet another whom they would not have met otherwise. We are creatures of habit and usually travel in the same circles, going to the same stores, restaurants and other places, so we see the same pool of people. Online dating opens up a wide variety of possibilities,” she explained.
One of her sons met his wife on eharmony, someone who lived 300 miles away and he never would have crossed paths with if they hadn’t hit it off online.
I couldn’t help but ask the No. 1 question that was on my mind the entire time: “Weren’t you scared meeting up with all these strangers?”
She did tell me about some frightening experiences, which are included in the book. However, she said that being a military brat and traveling in her job have allowed her to meet many people through the years and gave her a good gut instinct about those with whom she corresponded. She did not accept dates by all who contacted her and was selective, she said. She recommended always meeting during the daytime at first, in public places and never with someone who doesn’t use his photo online.
Judith told me that she mostly wrote the book to tell anyone who’s dating online that rejection will inevitably happen, but that doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you. She especially wants to alert her fellow females because “we ladies tend to already be insecure, so the heavy rejection rates on these sites don’t help much!”
“I want people to remember there’s an awful lot of dishonesty and fraud when people are anonymous,” Judith stated. “If they sound too good to be true, they probably are. Just about everyone I met was nothing like their profile or even their photo.”
Judith also warns about how time consuming the whole online dating thing is. Only about one-third of all texts and emails end up in a face-to-face meeting, and all those flirtatious texts and emails really take a toll on your time.
“After signing up on one of these sites, you become glued to your phone, tablet or laptop, waiting for the dings,” she laughs. “I felt like Pavlov’s dog running to the phone every time a notification came through.”
The comical punchline of this whole story is that two months after Judith put an end to her quest for online romance, she met a guy “the old-fashioned way” a few blocks from her home. She is still seeing him.
“You can fill out profile questionnaires with 150 questions to find a match,” Judith explained. “But then you meet someone in person, whom you don’t know from a can of paint, and sparks fly.”
Judith said that 85 percent of cues are non-verbal.
“When meeting someone, attraction happens through visual cues. We react to how a person smells, body language, their facial expressions and the sound of their voice. These are things that you only pick up in-person, face-to-face, not online. Keyboard communication is not connecting,” she said.
Throughout our interview, there wasn’t a question that I asked when Judith didn’t respond, “Oh, that’s in the book, look in chapter …” That’s when I realized that anything and everything about online dating is in “I Still Want Fireworks.” Even though I can say with a great degree of certainty that I’m not going the online dating route, I have to admit that I thought this book was fun to read because it’s humorous, a little saucy and opened my eyes to a whole other world of which I never really gave too much thought. Sure, I saw the commercials of those lovey-dovey couples who met through online-dating, but I never met someone over the age of 60 who actually not only used one of those online dating sites, but was considerate enough to share her hard-learned experiences to help others. If you’re looking for a fun beach or pool read this summer, go online — not to search for a soulmate, but to get the book!
Copies of “I Still Want Fireworks” are available in paperback for $9.99 and on Kindle for $3.99 through Amazon.com. To contact Judith Hill, message her on her Facebook page.
Readers can reach Peg DeGrassa at email@example.com.