Tuesday, April 24, 2007

City Life

Chivalry Isn’t Dead
A terrifying journey through the world of electronic romance, and a case study on why nice guys will continue to finish last
By Matt Rasmussen

Poets, scientists, and elementary school teachers always claim the world is full of wonders. Allow me to add a corollary to that: the World Wide Web is also full of wonders. That, of course, is working under the assumption that the term wonder is a blanket phrase designed to convey a combination of old, fat, pathological liars who are all too eager to snap a picture of their dick and bring that photo to the information super highway.

I don’t pretend to be a sociologist. Despite that, I know that gender stereotypes do exist, and feel like my previous interactions could inform me of what misconceptions are prevalent. The question is how could I go about proving prove to the girls I know that not all guys are brilliant, witty, successful, well-endowed, all-around good guys, and that not all girls are manipulative, back-stabbing, two-faced bitches who only care about themselves.

But how to do this? With limited time, and a non-existent budget, there was only one place to turn: Craigslist. Craigslist.org, an online classifieds section, is known by many to be a great place to find a man with a van to transport a television, hunt for jobs, or solicit transvestite prostitutes. It is the ideal website for this experiment.

The Web Of Deception
What I would need to do is set up two ads, one male, and one female, and compare the responses. For the purpose of a consistent control, I would have to make both of these ads painstakingly average, so we could fairly compare the responses.

Our imaginary girl, who will be referred to as Cool Girl from this point average is meticulously bland. She enjoys shows like the O.C., Gilmore Girls, and American Idol (“Sanjaya sucks but I still love him!”). She listens to “everything but country” and her favorite movie is “Wedding Crashers”. She’s just looking for a laid back guy who is funny and knows how to treat a lady, and likes to have a good time. She’s told she looks like young Hollywood’s newest poster girl, Hayden Pantierre, and assures the Internet that she has something in common with Fergie, in that she is regularly in the gym, “working on her fitness”.

Our imaginary dude, who will be known as Senor Rock, is also thoroughly generic. He looks for a classy girl who can have a good time, and describes himself as a cross between Zach Braff and Jake Gyllenhall, a name, which he confesses, he isn’t sure that he spelt correctly. He is part business, part pleasure: he lets us know that he is majoring in business and having a good time. He also would like you to know he likes all kinds of music except classical.

For the purpose of weeding out form letters, and in a hope that it would cut down on the necessary research, I asked potential suitors to tell me their favorite quote, what we might do on a first date, what attracted them to my profile, and their best fib on how we met (“because Craigslist is soooooo embarrassing”).

If I were going to fully blend in to my surroundings, I would also need to make sure that I used the proper dialect in my profiles. The denizens of the Craigslist nation, as I have learned, have a very complex and intricate language, which can best be described as “autistic kids banging on a keyboard”. They have code words that are important for evading the authority who want to stop the youth of America from having fun. Here’s a crash course, sure to get me ousted by the Internet police or INTERPOL or whoever is in charge of the net lexicon: m4w and w4m are man for woman and woman for man, and are the basic building blocks of this online meat market. Theoretically, a TG/TS could be seeking a SWM & BBW combo for a NSA hook-up. Obviously, the TG would be hosting and is 420 friendly, as long as you are okay with him skiing. If you can decode that, congratulations! You’re probably a rapist.

With these two seemingly average profiles, we now have in place a fairly reasonable experiment. However, a reasonable experiment does not guarantee we will be able to run the gamut of results. It is at this point that the ads must be reposted in the “Casual Encounters” section, with their own addendums. This will ensure passionate, honest responses, and, as I will soon learn, approximately half a dozen more cockshots than this writer was hoping for.

Cool Girl’s Gentlemen Callers
Cool Girl Seeks Laid Back Guy

Within fifteen minutes of posting, I have already begun to regret this dull Frankenstein with a vagina that I have created. There have been ten responses. When I wake up at 2 the next day, I will have been deluged with approximately seventy-five responses.

Cool girl is very aware – she knows she’s cool, and she knows she doesn’t have time for all these losers. Cool girl immediately deletes one third of the e-mails, sight unseen. Maxbino gets deleted because he e-mailed each profile twice with different responses. Cool girl has also decided she will delete anyone who sent pictures of their own “laid back guy”, because she thinks some of these gentlemen have been too forward, and it makes her kind of nauseous that her (in)box is stuffed with dicks.

Cool girl is young at heart, and in real life (she’s only 21!) and has decided that she will be deleting everyone 35 or older. There goes another 40 e-mails. She regrets that she asked for a mature guy.

Cool girl is adventurous, so she thinks to further narrow down the selection, she will delete those who did not suggest a date or simply suggested dinner and a movie. She doesn’t like Jay, who is by all accounts fat; she doesn’t like Ralph who wants to give her a massage (but she actually dislikes him because he is Dutch and she is xenophobic.) She doesn’t like “erchin” because he pays for sex, and she isn’t desperate; She thinks Ralph is a cool guy until he tells us that he thinks of “Puck Fair” as a small pub, and refers to his beach-house in Jamaica as Eden – she thinks he exaggerates.

Cool girl does not trust these electronic creeps. She decides to look at how they stumbled upon her profile. Joe likes her energy, and KillaRob clicked on the profile because it said “laid”. Phil likes that she keeps fit, and Steve thinks she seems like “a cool girl”. Among the fifteen or so that actually answered this question, the overwhelming consensus is that she “seems so real” and “down to earth”. She thinks they seem so “desperate” and “pathetic”.

Cool girl is a woman of substance, and thus, it was important that suitors included a good quote to show they were intelligent. Sorry Jim, Nick, Ryan, steveojackass49 Brian, and Liam, but CG knows you are just trying to get in her pants when you quote “Wedding Crashers”. She thinks you made an odd choice by quoting “Caddyshack”, Ricky, and Peter: she noticed that your grandpa always said “everything in moderation” – she is flattered that Winston Churchill’s grandson is contacting her!

Though she doesn’t think lying is a very positive trait, she wants to see if these guys can think on their feet. What kind of excuses did they come up with for meeting her on Craigslist? The most common was “at a party”. Boring – deleted! Some others include in Tijuana, on Craigslist – but buying furniture, and through a series of random meetings. She wonders why three responses included stories of her breaking a heel and being caught before she fell (she doesn’t even wear heels), or falling on the subway and being caught. She thinks the latter might be a knight in shining armor, until he confesses that he likes to use the word retarded even though it’s not politically correct. She is not sensitive to his callous misuse of the term, but rather to the fact that he can’t spell it properly. She decides he’s retarded.

Cool girl, ready to offer her thoughts in the event that they provide a conclusion to her saga lets her know that she thinks men are exceedingly desperate. She is shocked that so many guys could have responded to such an insipid profile. She decides that chivalry is still alive, but upon further questioning, we find out that her definition of chivalry is sending a picture of one’s genitals (but not one’s face), a detailed list of material assets, and a few bad puns. She notices a very interesting trend, and that is the responses got far more sincere as time went on. While initially horny old men and bridge-and-tunnel guidos sent the replies, schlumpy and honest guys sent thoughtful and interesting e-mails as time wore on. She wishes they were quicker and more confident, as she thought their e-mails were far too self-deprecating.

Senor Rock’s Groupies
Fun Guy Looking For Chill Girl

Sometimes it’s hard being Senor Rock. It’s good that he is so concerned about having a good time and partying it up, because if he had time to check his e-mail, he would probably be pretty pissed a guy as cool as he only got two responses.

Senor Rock knows a thing or two about the world, and finds great humor in the fact that so many guys pathetically responded to Cool Girl’s bare-bones ad in a matter of minutes. He scoffed at how desperate they were to try and get in the pants of anything that (allegedly) has a vag.

Senor Rock doesn’t take this seriously, but is shocked when both of his replies come from girls who are…actually, really hot. He wonders if he is being had. He gets a response from a Columbia student who was going on Craigslist to laugh at profiles and was genuinely interested in his. He thinks it’s really cute that her idea includes him visiting her at the café where she waitresses, and her chasing him down when he forgot to pay, followed by them exchanging numbers and credit card receipts. He thinks she’s too cute for him to point out that it would be hard to run down the street with a credit card machine.

When he delves into Ally’s response, he sees that she has a 311 reference in her screen name. She says she would love to have some cupcakes and just talk. She mentions how she is procrastinating on a paper right now. He is sure she’s fat. Senor Rock doesn’t have time for hambeasts. He is going to click the link to her MySpace to laugh at her misfortune, having to go through life as an obese cupcake-monger who is devoted to a terrible jam band. He’s shocked – she’s actually cute. He surmises that women are far less likely to throw themselves onto the market unless they are actually interested. He decides that if he ever becomes a journalist, he will never start a fake profile on Craigslist, or will at least make a fake e-mail account first.

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