Dateable, Inc. (Transcript) | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

Transcripts

DateAble, Inc.

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

13:07:33
But first, the oowey, goowey stuff, love. And sometimes to find love you need a little help and for many people that help happens here on the computer, on an online dating site. But back in the 1980s, it wasn't so much about dating sites as dating services and some people felt -- well, they felt a little bit left out.

MR. ROBERT WATSON

13:07:57
People with disabilities were being pigeon-holed in the traditional dating services like Together or Great Expectations.

SHEIR

13:08:08
And Robert Watson, who I recently met at his home in Brandywine, Md., should know.

WATSON

13:08:13
If you had cerebral palsy like I do, if you go in, you'd be pigeon-holed into a cerebral palsy cubbyhole and only if someone else with cerebral palsy came about you were looked at.

SHEIR

13:08:27
So in 1987, a psychiatrist in Chevy Chase decided to do something about it. Dr. Lucy Waletzky had been treating disabled patients for years so she thought, why not start a non-profit dating service for people with disabilities?

WATSON

13:08:42
Dr. Lucy Waletzky thought, well, let's create this thing called DateAble where the disabilities were not an initial factor, personality, likes and dislikes were.

SHEIR

13:08:54
And a few years later, she handed over the reins.

WATSON

13:08:57
She called me up and she said, well, would you like to run DateAble?

SHEIR

13:09:00
To her long-time friend, Robert Watson.

WATSON

13:09:03
I took the executive director of DateAble the week after I got married.

SHEIR

13:09:07
And I'll give you three guesses how he and his wife...

MS. LYNN WATSON

13:09:11
I am Lynn Watson.

SHEIR

13:09:12
...met.

WATSON

13:09:13
Okay, let's see. Back in '87, late '87, there was an article in the Washington Post about DateAble and I really didn't have a social life. I'd come home to my apartment every evening and get up the next day and go to work. And I said, well, I do need a social life so let me try this out.

SHEIR

13:09:28
Lynn, also was born with cerebral palsy in Front Royal, Va., but she was living in D.C. at the time, working at the VA Medical Center. And back then, DateAble required an in-person interview so she travelled to their offices in Chevy Chase, described what she was looking for in a partner.

WATSON

13:09:46
I wanted somebody that was dedicated to his family and had a good job because I was working at the time and I didn't want somebody that I was dating also to be working.

SHEIR

13:09:56
And a month later...

WATSON

13:09:57
They called me and said I think we have a date for you if you allow us to give him your phone number. Can we go ahead? And I said, sure.

SHEIR

13:10:06
And that very night Robert called. And when he did, Lynn popped the big question, the deal-breaker, if you will.

WATSON

13:10:13
Are you a Redskin fan? I was a diehard Redskin fan and the Redskins had just won the Super Bowl. So I was not going to date a Cowboys fan.

WATSON

13:10:25
And he goes, of course I am. I said okay, then we can date.

SHEIR

13:10:29
After chatting on the phone nearly every day for two weeks, Lynn was convinced Robert was the one.

WATSON

13:10:34
I called my mom up and I said, I know the man I'm going to marry. And she said you can't say that. And I said, oh, yes, I can.

SHEIR

13:10:42
And yes, she did. She and Robert met in person at one of DateAble's regular social gatherings, in this case a Valentine's Day dance. And the rest, as they say, is history. But even though Lynn and Robert and thousands of other people with disabilities have found true love using DateAble, Robert stresses that it isn't just a dating service.

WATSON

13:11:02
DateAble starts as a friendship service. Most people don't realize that you have to be friends before you really date somebody, before you're engaged, before you fall in love.

SHEIR

13:11:15
And for many a person with disabilities -- and by the way, Robert emphasizes that that's his term of choice, person with disabilities.

WATSON

13:11:24
The person is first, the disability's second.

SHEIR

13:11:26
And for many people with disabilities, their social world, their social circle, can be a bit limited, he says, so a little bit of that friendship, he talks about, can go a long way.

WATSON

13:11:37
Some people develop social skills through DateAble. So even if we've had a little part of their life to boost their self esteem, I'd say we've done our job.

SHEIR

13:11:49
DateAble started regionally, but now it has 400 members nationwide representing a variety of disabilities from the more common or typical, as Robert calls them.

WATSON

13:12:00
It is cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and your multiple sclerosis.

SHEIR

13:12:06
To the much more rare...

WATSON

13:12:07
We have stuff that I can't even pronounce, stuff that there's only about 16 cases in the world. But the thing about DateAble is that we don't focus on the disability, we focus on the abilities and the likes and dislikes of the person.

SHEIR

13:12:24
And here's the other thing about DateAble, its membership is shrinking and Robert couldn't be happier.

WATSON

13:12:31
Actually, in our mission statement, it says that DateAble eventually would like to dissipate because they wouldn't need us anymore.

SHEIR

13:12:43
In other words, he says, the world has changed.

WATSON

13:12:45
Back in '87, people didn't accept people with disabilities, now it's quite different. And between the internet and Facebook and all these other dating services that cater to people with disabilities, if I know there's another dating service out there that can help the person go, go for it.

SHEIR

13:13:04
Robert says he could see DateAble disbanding within the next five years.

WATSON

13:13:10
And we'll probably go out with a bang.

SHEIR

13:13:13
But in the meantime, they'll keep holding dances and brunches and seminars and matching up people in the hope of creating crazy-in-love soulmates, lifelong friends or ideally some happy marriage of both. To learn more about DateAble and how to apply for membership, visit our website, metroconnection.org
Transcripts of WAMU programs are available for personal use. Transcripts are provided "As Is" without warranties of any kind, either express or implied. WAMU does not warrant that the transcript is error-free. For all WAMU programs, the broadcast audio should be considered the authoritative version. Transcripts are owned by WAMU 88.5 FM American University Radio and are protected by laws in both the United States and international law. You may not sell or modify transcripts or reproduce, display, distribute, or otherwise use the transcript, in whole or in part, in any way for any public or commercial purpose without the express written permission of WAMU. All requests for uses beyond personal and noncommercial use should be referred to (202) 885-1200.