I Met My Wife Online Before It Was Cool... In An AOL Chatroom

By Rocco Deserto

Before I get started, I don't know if it's actually "cool" now to meet your significant other online. I haven't been single in 12 years, and I have two kids under 3 years old, I'm not really in touch with the "cool" crowds.

Regardless, let me set the stage.

The year was 2004, I was a senior at an all boys Catholic high school. Oh, the wonders of puberty when you're surrounded by nothing but other boys. I spent my days in school and my nights in AOL Chatrooms.

If you don't know what an AOL Chatroom is... please don't tell me, I don't want to feel old.

My favorite chatroom to go in was "Italian Hottiez," yes with a "Z". My AOL screen name was "ItalyzBadBoy10," and you didn't have to have a slick pick-up line to get the conversation started. You started every new chat with "A/S/L/Pic?" (Age/Sex/Location/Picture).

If the person were around your age and your location, you had the green light to commence conversations. If you were a real Rico Suave type, you'd dedicate a rose to all the ladies in the chatroom by throwing out the original emoticon "@~}~~."

It was around Easter of 2004 when I started talking to this girl who lived in upstate New York.

In the end, she wasn't really Italian and I wasn't a hottie; we both fudged the truth, but who cares?

We spent whole nights talking online and eventually took those talks to the phone where'd we spent hours chatting to each other.

She moved to Brooklyn in 2006; in January 2009, we got engaged; July 2012, we were married; in March 2014, we had our first child.

We're a walking, talking commercial, except we didn't meet on a dating website.

Today, online dating sites are popular; people are swiping left and right on Tinder all day long, but still, it seems like everyone is single. I believe I got extremely lucky with my wife, but I had an advantage that guys today don't have.

Back in 2004, probably one in five people had a digital camera, and two in five people had a scanner.

Back in 2004, probably one in five people had a digital camera, and two in five people had a scanner.

Relationships had to start with talking first; today, it's the other way around. First, you see the picture, and if you like the picture, you send a message.

If you receive a message, you don't actually care what the message says (it could be a really sweet poem), you look straight at the picture and that determines if you answer or not.

With AOL Chatrooms, I always had a one-up on everyone else, I felt I had a great personality and could naturally keep a conversation going.

The nice guy with a great personality only stands a chance today if the girl happens to like the picture on the other end. It was common years ago to talk to people and not necessarily have an idea what they looked like.

The first picture I saw of the girl who would eventually become my wife was a tiny pixelated one; I could barely make out her face.

We trusted the descriptions we were told; my go-to description was, "black hair, brown eyes, tall and husky."

It's a given that a girl would stop answering when she saw "husky"; fat guys didn't get nearly enough love back in the day.

Sometimes I'd substitute the word "husky" with "built"; I was also catfishing before it was cool, too, apparently.

People don't take the time out to get to know each other anymore.

Everything has to be right there on the first page; no one has the patience to actually hold a conversation with someone and see if that conversation can go anywhere.

If you're single, take your foot off the gas pedal, let the conversations develop. Maybe you weren't destined to be married to a Chris Pine look-a-like. (Is Chris Pine a heartthrob? I don't know these things.)

That being said, I'm glad I was on AOL when I was.

If it weren't for AOL, I probably wouldn't have met my wife, which means I would be sitting here today with a Plenty of Fish account, wondering why no one is answering my A/S/L messages.