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It's a challenge to really get to know the truth about people on the Internet


I got a lot of feedback referencing my last column about dating, none of it nasty. So I figure I must have both hit a nerve and gotten it right. These two things happening at once are about as rare as a celestial conjunction between the planet Jupiter and the pope's bumhole, so kudos to me, and thanks to you.

And for those people about to dart for the nearest keyboard to write something scathing in response to my mention of the pope's bumhole: Don't bother. I didn't like it, either.

The whole problem when it comes to online dating is exactly the same problem that infects almost every other area of modern life: hucksterism. For all that it does to make our lives easier, the Internet is such an opaque instrument that it is ridiculously easy for the average person to slather themselves in snake oil and get busy selling. This is an OK model if you're trying to unload a 1995 Plymouth, but it's fairly lousy if you're trying to unload yourself. First of all, it makes physical attractiveness of primary importance; second, it allows individuals to spout whatever mythology about themselves that they want to; and third, it leaves little room for informative statements like the following:

"I'm a highly aggressive and competitive guy, and as a result, I make a lot of money. The upside here is that I'll be able to buy you a lot of stuff, and you'll be able to afford all the pedicures and massages you want. The downside is that I can't turn it off and will compete against the kids and even the dog. I will even compete against you. For example, if we're playing a board game, and I start to lose, I won't be able to stand it. So when you go to get a soda or go to the bathroom, I will inevitably cheat. If it's Monopoly, I will take some of your money, hotels, whatever it is you've acquired. When you get back, should you accuse me, I will take extreme umbrage, act real hurt and accuse you of having 'issues.' I will then suggest, perhaps through tear-filled eyes, depending on how hard of a sell the moment requires, that after your next $100-an-hour massage, you go see the $300-an-hour psychiatrist so that you can continue to work on these 'issues.' This will undermine your self-confidence to the point that the next time we play a board game, you will let me win."

Or, "I love romantic walks on the beach, but we're going to have a hell of a ride getting there, because I'm a terrible driver. See, I got hit in the head with a baseball when I was small, and it screwed up my sense of where I am in any given physical space to the degree that I am probably one of the most dangerous drivers you will ever meet. I drive appallingly close to the yellow line in the center of the road virtually all of the time. Fatal head-on collisions are always a possibility with me. However, due to the fact that I am in complete denial about this aspect of my personality, I will refuse to let you drive. Did I mention that the person who threw the baseball was my own mother? I think she did it on purpose. So please forgive my snarky and sarcastic view of all of womankind."

Or how about this: "I love cuddling during thunderstorms and enjoying a nice glass of pinot grigio; however, I should tell you right now that personal hygiene has never been a priority with me, and I believe that on my days off work, you should be accepting of this. I don't have an argument for my position; it's just that I like my body odor, and should it become too alarming, I will deal with it via a big splash of Axe cologne. Don't worry. This stuff is so good, it even works when the dog pukes on the carpet. In addition, I don't believe in dentists. Well, maybe 'believe' isn't the word. It's more like I'm terrified of them and refuse to go. As a result, those rotten teeth in my mouth make my breath smell like I've been chewing on a corpse. But if you loved me, you'd kiss me anyway."

Human relationships are complicated things, and as any psychologist worth his salt will tell you, honesty is an important ingredient in concocting a successful one. Internet dating sites just don't seem to leave room for this.

But, of course, there's always Craigslist: "Handsome, well-meaning uber-Joe seeks woman with big ass and a picnic basket who can sit through 52 Saturdays of NASCAR without flinching. Must have a bad dye job and a rash."

It's a jungle out there, I tell you.

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