NEWTON, MA—Derek Friedman, 16, was "shocked and disgusted" Tuesday, when he discovered a personal ad posted by his mother Susan on the popular online dating service Match.com.
Friedman, a junior at the Commonwealth School in Cambridge, MA, was in his room reading the personals listings with friends when he discovered his mother's ad.
"There were tons of hilarious personals for people right in my hometown," Friedman said. "All these pathetic people looking for 'friendship,' and these really horny people looking for 'a night of no-strings-attached passion,' and shit like that. But after I found Mom's ad, the other ads didn't seem so funny anymore."
SweetFunSue372's ad begins: "Attractive, divorced, 42-year-old woman who loves spending time outdoors, going to movies, and her 16-year-old son. Looking for a 40- to 50-year-old man to accompany me to museums, jazz clubs, and the beach. Afterwards, maybe we can come home and cuddle?"
James Phillips, Friedman's oldest friend, said he'd never seen Friedman so upset.
"Derek was reading the ad out loud," Phillips said. "To us, it sounded like a boring one—pretty standard. But we could tell something was up, because he kept reading more and more slowly. Then he started scrolling through the ad and shaking his head, as if he couldn't understand what he was reading."
When he clicked on the "See Picture" button, Friedman's worst fears were confirmed. Adding insult to injury, the photo of his mother was one Friedman had taken earlier this year.
According to Phillips, Friedman said "She hates the outdoors" three times, and then remained quiet for several minutes.
Friedman's friends were uncharacteristically circumspect about the disgusting ad. Their restraint was surprising, especially considering the teasing that Friedman has experienced in the past. Several of his classmates have repeatedly said they consider Friedman's mother "bangin'."
The only remarks came from Jared Ricks, a fellow junior at Commonwealth, who heard about the ad from Phillips.
"Yo, D, I left a voicemail for your moms but she ain't called me back," Ricks said. "I told her I like long walks and hot fucking."
The ad seems to explain a recent increase in phone calls to the Friedman household.
"We started getting a lot of calls to the house," Friedman said. "These guys would ask for Susan, but when I asked for their names, they'd act real awkward about it and ask to talk to Susan again. When I asked Mom about them, she said they were friends."
"I knew the guys were asking her out, because she took the calls in the laundry room and laughed a lot," he added. "But I assumed [the callers] were people she'd met at work, or through friends or something. Even at the grocery store. I never thought she'd do anything like advertise herself."
Although the revolting personal ad disturbed Friedman, it was not the first sign that his mother, who divorced his father Michael in August 2001, was jump-starting her dating life.
"A few months ago, I was flipping through one of those underwear catalogs that my mom gets," Friedman said. "She'd circled all this black-lace, strapless stuff, and a couple of thongs. Now I know she's gonna wear that stuff for some guy she met on the Internet. That's so nasty."
Despite his initial shock, Friedman said he understands that his mother is an adult with a normal human desire for companionship.
"I know, I need to let her live her life and move on and everything," Friedman said. "And she's been lonely since she divorced Dad, but an Internet dating service? She must be so desperate. I never knew things were so bad for her."
According to psychiatrist Ann Cohen, author of Post-Divorce, Pre-Death, an event like Tuesday's discovery can shake a teenager's entire sexual worldview.
"A child's realization that his mother is a sexual being usually comes during pre-pubescence for boys, at around 11 or 12," Cohen said. "But that association fades quickly when the boy turns from an inexperienced child into a sexualized teenager. After that, the mother becomes an anti-sex-symbol, a purified ideal of womanhood who's above, or at least outside, the realm of normal animalistic impulses. For a teenager like Derek, it must be incredibly traumatic to see his mother put herself on the dating market like a side of beef."
Added Cohen: "Think about it—your own mom? Looking for sex? Disgusting!"