If you ever get the chance to sit in a Chinese restaurant next to an internet couple on their first date, I highly recommend it.

Last week I had the good fortune cookie of wandering in to a Chinese restaurant in Manhattan, hungry and looking for a good place to check my email. I was thinking that if I could get a good bowl of soup and a wireless connection, my day would be made. Little did I know that match.com had other plans for me. Thankfully, they did not include someone with a profile picture taken "before the farming accident."

The soup was marginal. The wireless connection kept bouncing me offline. But when I heard the woman next to me say "that's why I liked your profile," I realized I'd at least get a column out of this.

The two had not only met online, but they were terrible at dating. The only thing they discussed were the things that led up to the date. With thirty second pauses between them.

"That's why I liked your profile, too."

Hold. Hold. Hold.

"Yeah, I thought you had a good headline."

Hold. Hold. Hold.

"Me too."

Hold…

Before you fault me for eavesdropping, understand that I had no choice. I was sitting less than three feet from their table. And it was REALLY entertaining.

The thing that surprised me most is that I thought I was witnessing a train wreck, but both parties kept really trying to impress each other. In classic first date style, they repeatedly contradicted themselves in an effort to be likeable.

"I hate when people put up too many different pictures in their profile," she said.

"But I have a lot of pictures," he responded.

"Well, no, that's not what I mean," she said, and proceeded to explain it's only a problem when people who are not him do exactly what he did.

"I agree," he said.

Hold…

I left before they did, while they continually gazed into each other's eyes, desperately grappling for something to say to make the other fumblingly agree. Ahh, love.

I do not criticize them for online dating – I have done that myself. Most people who have been single and owned a computer in the last few years will all admit to online dating. The others have tried it, but will lie and say they didn't.

"Yeah, I just put that profile up as a joke. No, I don't know why I have 212 sent messages."

Meeting your significant other online is nothing to be embarrassed about it. It's often more embarrassing to meet someone out partying.

"Your father first noticed me while I was dancing on the bar. After my third long island iced tea, it was like no one else was even at Dollar Natty Night. And when he held back my hair while I puked to the rhythm of a Steely Dan song, I knew I'd marry this man."

But when you do go out on that first e-Date, there are a few rules.

First, you have to make an attempt to get to know each other beyond the stuff you can read on the web.

"You're on an online dating site? Me too! Wait, that's how we met, isn't it?" Hold…

Second, you have to be honest – the whole point of online dating is finding someone you can get along with. Or at least that's what the old guy from eHarmony says. He must know everything, he's on TV.

Third (and most important), NEVER have your first date within earshot of a humor columnist bored during his marginal soup. Half an hour later, he might be hungry for material.

Steve Hofstetter is the author of the Student Body Shots books, which are available at SteveHofstetter.com and bookstores everywhere. He can be e-mailed at steve@stevehofstetter.com.