There must be some reason we're talking about Internet dating services. James compares them to knowing too much about a movie before seeing it: "When I saw Pulp Fiction, I didn't know anything about it. I didn't know who Quentin Tarantino was, had never seen Reservoir Dogs. So I was blown away by it. Had I known too much about it beforehand, it probably wouldn't have had the same impact."
What about values, principles?
"People aren't honest about those things," James says, "even to themselves. Anyway, two people might call themselves 'Christians' or 'Jews,' but their ideas about the same thing could be very different."
And that's the problem with Internet dating services, he says.
But it's more than that, he says. There's the lack of serendipity: none of the poetry of a by-chance encounter. No possibility of a karmic thing bringing two people together. "I'd rather take my chances with it." James concludes, "keep believing in the magic."
That's what he calls it: Magic. Who knew James was such a romantic?
I get up to ask for some water and lemon slices. Two guys are eating at the counter. The waiter brings me the lemons on a little plate.