Locals find true love, intrigue, "I Do’s" online

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Cyberspace dating may be intriguing to some, silly to others, but at least one woman in Malibu found her soulmate on the Internet.

She’s known far and wide as Malibu’s kind-hearted pet-doc-to-the-stars, but on July 4, Dr. Lisa Newell will be known as something else-Mrs. Mark Gruber.

Like one of her well-cared for critters, Newell is happier than a dog with two tails. In just a few short months, she plans to marry the man of her dreams in a lavish beachside ceremony, a man she met- gasp!-on the Internet!

Even though he was far away in Hawaii, Gruber looked at Newell’s profile online. The icebreaker? Cat chat about his furry feline, Ruggy. The two began to correspond, he came out for a visit and the rest is history.

“Right from that weekend, we were so in love,” Newell reflects. “We knew we couldn’t live without each other.”

It wasn’t long before I discovered that Newell wasn’t alone in the Internet dating scene. My neighbors were doing it, my hip, TV co-workers were doing it, heck, even my dentist was doing it-all dating up a storm using online services like Matchmaker.com.

Intrigued, I thought this was a story begging to be explored. To the delight of my girlfriends and the dismay of my boyfriends, I dove in, posting my profile to see if any locals would log on for love.

The outcome was quite surprising. Over the course of several weeks, I proceeded to meet a parade of attractive and successful lawyers, doctors and entrepreneurs. Yes, I had a great many good dates, but it’s the memorable ones that are worth sharing.

The first was my favorite. This involved an encounter with a high-profile entertainment attorney who went to Yale. For three straight hours, he refused to do anything but speak in puns, riddles and rhymes. When he discovered tripe on the menu, he exclaimed, “Wow, I don’t want to tripe you up. That’s an inside joke. You may not have the stomach for it, but at least I have the guts to take a stand.”

I kept envisioning him in emerald green leotards with black question marks on them. But the whitefish was excellent and so was the cabernet and I’ll never have to rent “Batman.”

Some of the best exchanges didn’t require a date, just a sense of humor. I received one piece of e-mail from a man who described himself as a “Phd” He went on to tell me that he, too, enjoys “travelling,” would love to “here” from me-call anytime. “Chow,” Brian. When I asked another would-be suitor to send a photo, he did. It was a fine snap of this very handsome and toned young man riding a bicycle-naked!

While I specified proximity to 90265 as a plus, I received countless come-ons from people everywhere from Boston to Barcelona. And although I specified “male” as the preferred object of my desire, I got plenty of invites from attractive, successful women. (Good Golly!)

The glorious thing is the sheer theater of it, all the little threads that make up the wild, wacky and wonderful tapestry of dating.

It’s become an addictive pastime, much like collecting baseball cards. Almost every day, you and your pals have a chance to swap stories about a new adventure-the good ones, the bad ones and the just plain funny ones.

In the meantime, Newell is planning her fabulous Hawaiian-themed wedding bash. “I’m just so happy,” she says. “I knew this was meant to be.”

So the moral of the story is that dating online is a lot like life.

You may find your Prince Charming-

or a crook on the lam-

So be sure to shop wisely-

and avoid the Spam.