The Grammatology Of Dating Sites
It has become common practice among those less socially inept than I to use the online arena for finding a mate. Having investigated this method of partner search and selection, I am less than convinced that it works. Now, it may be perfectly normal for the young, the fetishists or perverts to use their computers for such ends, but I know it would not work for me. For a start, the level of online intercourse is teeth-grindingly abysmal:
“U is hot!”
“Text me cuz I is lonely.”
“Call me if u want 2 no more. No playerz or userz”
“Solvent, professional lady seeks similarly solvent, home-owning, professional man with degree and full head of hair for partnership. Some romance may be involved.”
Depressing isn’t it? You can poke strangers on facebook, send spam mails to dozens of people whose pictures you find attractive, but it’s all so — illiterate. What about us members of the intellectual elite? I, considering myself a member of the minor literati of the great city of Leicester, often feel the urge to do this to them:
“17 y-o [sic] lad w. [sic] 6-pak [sic] wltm [sic] girlz [sic] 4 [sic] fun an [sic] laffs [sic].”
It was in a Novella that I half-wrote a few years ago, titled The François Pignon Experiment, that I first tackled the construction of a literate and witty response to such missives. My main character would introduce himself to women on the Internet like this:
“Hello, [insert name here], my name is Danny and you may be surprised to hear that God said that you were made for me. Well, not God exactly, but the devil. Actually, it was a call-centre from just outside Northampton that Satan uses for business purposes. They called me one evening after midnight as I relaxed after a swim in the Olympic-sized swimming pool I’ve had built in the basement of my twelve bedroom mansion.
“Who can that be at this time of night?”, I wondered as I answered on my cordless extension, champagne flute in hand.
“Hi, my name’s Gary”, said a voice on the other end of the line, “do you have a moment to discuss your future happiness and that of a beautiful young lady?”.
I must say I was intrigued by this approach.
“Go on”, I replied.
“Well, Danny, I can call you Danny, can’t I?”, he continued.
I felt suspicious. How did he know my name? I felt slightly uneasy as I was alone in the villa. I had dismissed all the servants for the night as I am such an enlightened employer and nobody was due at the house until my six a.m. macrobiotic yoga session. I let Gary carry on talking.
“Are you the soul owner of the property?”, he inquired.
“My Château is owned by my offshore business consultancy business in the Cayman Islands.”
“No, you misunderstand me”, said Gary, “what I meant was; do you own your own soul?”
“Is this some sort of joke?”, I replied in a manly, thrusting rage, my designer robe slipping slightly to reveal my chiselled torso.
“No Danny. We are just offering you a once in a lifetime opportunity to sell your soul for love.”
“Tell me more”, I said stroking Simba, my Albino Indonesian panther. She sighed and purred at the touch of her master.
“It is very simple”, Gary continued, “In exchange for your soul, we offer you a lifetime of love and happiness with a certain young, attractive, intelligent lady. Close your eyes!”, he ordered.
“Close them now.”
I closed my eyes and I was suddenly overwhelmed by a vision of you [insert name here], not just of your effortless beauty and grace but your wit, intelligence, personality, the wonder of who you are. It was in that instant that I learned everything there was to know about you; your loves, hates, peeves, favourite colour and pasta sauce. From that moment on, I knew you were my one and only, that it had to be you. Your name repeats itself constantly in my brain; [insert name here], [insert name here], [insert name here]! Every time I hear [insert name here] I am overcome with tenderness and emotion. I burst into tears, something I had not done since I built that orphanage in Mozambique single-handedly.
“Yes! Gary, yes!” I exclaimed. “My soul is a small price to pay for the love of [insert name here].”
“Very well. That will be one soul, £12.95 VAT and £4.95 post and packing. She’s all yours, subject to contract. Prices may go down as well as up, Satan Enterprises PLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Original Creation Company of Tacoma, Washington, USA. Have a nice day and welcome to our pre-damnation customer care package. Special rates apply to friends and family, air miles are available. Goodnight Danny, call us any time you have a problem”.
The call ended. I slumped onto my chaise longue and drained my glass of its dregs of Crystal champagne. I had done it. I had sold my soul for [insert name here]. All I needed now was for her to get in touch. Would it be through my E-mail address [Insert E Mail address here] or would she phone me on [Insert phone number here]? I awaited her response like a man condemned to hell… which I suppose I was.”
This type of correspondence, to my mind, makes a far more dramatic impression. I’m sure many of you disagree. I await your answers –probably sent as pokes, texts and twitters– with eager anticipation.