Once upon a time … this is how the best of fairy tales and bedtime stories begin. And this is probably the best of the best. Why? Because it’s real. And it contains a magic that Gandalf himself couldn’t have conjured and perhaps would harrumph at. Although he would definitely approve of the timing: “A wizard is never late. Nor is he early; he arrives precisely when he means to.”

And in this case, the timing was perfect. It did take a number of decades, though, but in wizard language, decades are a mere snap of the fingers.

How did this all occur? Well, in the craziest of ways: by accident, sheer chance, universal tampering and a friend with something more than common sense. I was visiting her and we were discussing online dating. She had found her match through Plenty of Fish (POF) six years ago, and I asked if she thought I should do this. She did, and we set me up.

My criterion was that I would only respond to someone sending me a message. If they didn’t have the guts to write to me, I wasn’t going to be bothered. I wanted something real and readable so I could see the writing style and spelling, and check whether it differed from their profile.

I carefully followed the advice in another article in this magazine. Thanks for that, by the way. In my profile, I was also very clear that I was on my way to another country.

No, no, no

I heard from and talked to others via phone and WhatsApp, and met face-to-face a number of souls, many of them sans soul. There was the one who contacted me and then asked himself … and I asked him … “Why?”

He was way younger, definitely only looking for a certain religious group that I did not in any way fit into, and was paranoid and a hypochondriac. Sweet human, and I offered to help him with his search (crazy I am, sometimes), but nope, not for me.

Then there was the one who wanted to keep cruising—shorts, socks and sandals guy—who loved onboard entertainment. Hell, no! And the one who lived for volleyball and fitness, and when I say ‘lived for,’ I mean exactly that. It was all he had to discuss.

After lots of discussing my woes, my friend suggested that I look at that ‘Wants to meet you’ lot. One day, with nothing else to do and in a fit of frustration, I did. By now, I was in a country quite a distance from my hometown.

I saw this face that spoke to my heart, my head and every other bit of me. Personality: Sapiophile. I was hooked. Man, he could spell sapiophile? Wow. And he was funny and wrote beautifully.

I sent him a message via the site. “Thank you for wanting to meet me, I happen to be in another country at the moment,” and the conversation started, eventually leading to private email. And it never stopped. Still hasn’t. Emails, nonstop WhatsApp and some Skyping. But we both knew this was it. This was the one.

We had to meet

He couldn’t leave his country at the time, so I asked, “What would you think if I told you I would come visit you for a week?” He responded, “I would think I had died and gone to heaven.”

And I did, and he didn’t. Die and go to heaven, that is. What we did do is find exactly what we had been looking for all our lives … maybe across many lifetimes.

In this age of AI, crazy happenings and fake news, where no one can believe a thing anymore, this bot got it perfectly correct.

But what makes this story so special and puts it right up there in the Gandalfian and fairytale realm? He never did want to meet me on the site. It was a bot. A damn set of algorithms put us together.

Upon doing some research, I found the following: “A chatbot that’s aware of its client’s preferences can easily filter out matches. Because the chatbot exists in a messaging app, the user could move from chatting with the bot to chatting with a match without friction.” In this age of AI, crazy happenings and fake news, where no one can believe a thing anymore, this bot got it perfectly correct. 

I have now returned to another country and we WhatsApp nonstop all day. We talk, we write, we send silly little messages and photos, and all’s so damn right with the world, it’s closer to magic than magic itself knows how to be. Pure wizardry and all kinds of wondrous.

While we were together, we met some of each other’s friends and family, went to the movies, listened to music, cooked, walked and shopped. We spent 24 hours a day together for seven days. ‘Besotted’ would kind of describe these heading-for-ancient-of-days two. But it is perfect.

We have things to work out, but there is one thing we know: This is forever.

Thank you, bot. Whoever wrote you. You did good.

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The writer of this article wishes to remain anonymous.

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