Who Orders Pina Coladas at a Bar Named O’Malley’s?

It’s Friday, so time for another column from The Online Dating Coach. John wrote this one while I was gone and when he sent it to me I had to laugh because it’s so cleaver. He was trying to convince the ladies in his life that dating was supposed to be fun. And when he’s lonely he tends to listen to music and get a little sappy. 

Who Orders Pina Coladas at a Bar Named O’Malley’s?

Do you recall the Pina Colada Song from the late 70’s?

It tells the story of a man who’s lost interest in his marriage and has gone looking in the newspaper personal ads for somebody new.

He has the gall to read those ads as he’s lying beside his wife in bed. What’s worse, he finds one to respond to – and the ad is all about the promise that a brand new relationship holds: tropical drinks and walks on the beach with the new love of his life who is, of course, better in every respect than the woman he’s lying next to.

And here is the aspect of the song that so fascinates me:

It makes cheating on your wife sound sublimely romantic.

The fact that the woman Mr. Colada ends up meeting with IS his wife (she wrote the ad he responds to) does wrap things up nicely, but still, this guy was looking to cheat.

So what does that say about me, or us, that we can listen to a song about cheating on one’s spouse and go out and buy so many copies that we turn it into a number one best seller? Does it mean we’re in love with the idea of being unfaithful, or rather does it mean that we are so enamored of the idea of being truly happy that we’re willing to break a few rules to get there.

I’m going with the latter.

Now I honestly don’t remember if the newspaper personal ads had any sort of stigma attached to them (DWM ISO LTR anyone?) since I never used them – but I suspect they probably did, much like online dating still has some mild stigma attached to it.

And if you doubt this just count the number of people who, when they tell you they met at a coffee shop, fail to mention it was arranged via email. But then along comes a quirky little song with a forgettable title and all of a sudden searching for love in the daily newspaper is touching and romantic.


So maybe what online dating needs is a sappy, little love song written about it?

Perhaps the guy is at work, sitting in front of his computer screen and day dreaming about that perfect girl – you know, the one who loves the way he never cleans up after himself and doesn’t mind that his dog sleeps on the bed.

And maybe there’s a girl out there who has posted a profile looking for an active, outdoorsy type – the opposite of the couch dweller she’s seeing now – and our protagonist at his desk is just sure that describes him, or would if he could just find that girl who’d motivate him to go outside once in a while.

They trade a couple of awkward emails and then talk on the phone, which doesn’t go all that well (he keeps forgetting her name) but at least they don’t scare each other off. And then maybe, just maybe, they meet up and something clicks. The conversation starts slow and haltingly, but then after a few minutes they’re smiling and laughing and they simply cannot stop looking into each other’s eyes.

They don’t want the date to end, but it’s 10:00 already and the place is closing so they have to leave – besides, they both have to be at work in the morning. But before driving off they stand at her car and keep smiling and looking into each other’s eyes. Finally he says he has to go (remember the dog?) but asks if he can see her again, and soon. She wants to play hard to get but she’s been hoping so hard for the last hour he’d ask her that the “Yes, of course” leaps off her lips.

Before they know it they’re on date number five, then ten, and then they’re not even keeping track anymore – they’re just enjoying each other. They’ve met the families – they’ve done Thanksgiving and Christmas at his place (and Hanukkah at hers) and now they are starting to look for a house big enough for both of them – and the dog she now loves.

You know why I like online dating?

For the same reason I probably would have liked the newspaper personals – because they are both just dating. Online dating is nothing fancy, nor, really, is it anything particularly new. It’s just another form of something we’ve been doing for millennia: looking for that person who makes us happy, and whom we make happy.

I think it really is just that simple. And while the thought of finding that someone is sometimes a bit of an escape, and is certainly easier said than done, the fact remains that it can be done, and is done all the time.

Okay, that’s enough for today’s column – all of a sudden I’m thirsty for… a beer.

John P. Gavin

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