One day when I was in elementary school, the teacher had read a fairy tale. I don't remember which one, but there was definitely a princess and a Prince Charming. At recess, my friend and I were on the swings. She sighed melodramatically and waved an invisible magic wand in the air above her head.
Jen: What's wrong?
Friend: I wish I were a princess. Siiiiiigh.
Jen: Why would you want that?
Friend: Because I could live in a castle. And be beautiful. And have pretty dresses. And get everything I want all the time. And Prince Charming will marry me and love me forever and ever!
Friend: Don't you want to be a princess?
Jen: Not really. If I was a princess then I'd have to rule a kingdom maybe, and what if I did something wrong and all the people in the kingdom got mad at me? I don't know how to rule a kingdom.
Friend: But if you were a princess, you could have a pet UNICORN! Their tears can heal sickness and they live forever and give you magic powers!
Jen: I'm pretty sure unicorns aren't real. Why would I want something that wasn't real?
Friend: (shocked silence)
Which isn't to say that I didn't find any fairy tales appealing. I was quite fond of Little Red Riding Hood for tricking the wolf. (You go, girl!) I liked Beauty because she liked to read. (Smart chicks rock!) But most of all, I liked the story of the princess who kissed the frog and turned him into a prince.
No, not because I wanted to be the princess-- because I identified with the frog. When I was little I hoped against hope that someday someone would look past my exterior and want to kiss me anyway. I still want that, to some extent. I want someone who looks at me and sees the good parts.
This might explain why so few of my friends are women: I have trouble identifying with someone who is waiting for her tiara and the reins to the unicorn chariot. Guys make more sense to me. Sure, they can be kinda smelly, but when I'm around them I don't feel like a loser who doesn't have any magic powers.
My best friend is this guy named Hip Dexter. He's a very cool guy-- goatee, stylish sideburns, jaunty hat, bowling shirt, shoes that are much trendier than mine-- but he is famously bad at self-promotion. This means that he's a little bit too modest to woo the ladies, which is entirely the ladies' loss.
One day when I was sitting around pouting because I'd gotten no responses to my online dating profile and had therefore been rejected by every single man on the Internet, he called me up.
"You know how you posted a profile online?" he asked.
"And became a dismal failure at dating in a wider scope than I could have ever dreamed of? Yes."
"Can you help me do that?"
"Why would you want me to help you be a dismal failure at dating?" I asked.
"No," said Hip Dexter, "post a profile. See, there's this girl…"
"QUOI?! Qu'est-ce que c'est this 'girl' you speak of?"
"Well, you were talking about online dating all the time. So I went online, and created an empty profile, just to look," he said.
"No harm in that," I said.
"And there was this one girl who looks like a good match for me…"
"But I can't mail her unless I have stuff in my profile too…"
"So I want you to help me write a profile that will appeal to her specifically."
"Oooooooh. Hip Dexter, what you lack in confidence around women, you make up for with cunning and strategy."
"This is, indeed, a factual statement," he said.
"I will choose to accept this mission on three conditions."
"One. I will not write your profile for you. I will give suggestions which you can take or not take, but you will take full responsibility for the outcome."
"Two. You'll need to give me a few days to read her profile and those of your competitors, so that I can come up with my suggestions."
"That is reasonable."
"And three. I will only suggest things that are true. No lying to the womenfolk."
"But of course!"
"Mission accepted. Send me a link to her profile."
I read the profile while he waited in silence on the other end of the line. When I finished, I said:
"I know," he said.
"I mean, duuuuuude."
"Yeah, pretty much," he said.
"I mean, it's like she's you…but with girl parts!"
"This is what I'm saying."
"Get off the phone already. I'll have my suggestions to you by the end of the hour."
In the next thirty minutes I read as many guys' profiles as I could, and took notes on everything that made me recoil. Then I wrote up my summary for Hip Dexter.
1. Have someone take a decent picture of you that is in focus.
2. Wear a shirt in every picture. You may think it is sexy to show up half-naked on a stranger's computer, but she thinks you are skeezy.
3. This is not IM. "RU teh 1 4 me? LOLz!!!!" isn't going to cut it. Show her that she is worth complete sentences, capital letters, and punctuation.
4. Positive sounds better than negative. Consider which you prefer: "I'm looking for a woman who shares my passion for health and fitness." vs. "Absolutely no fat chicks." Even if your reader isn't eliminated by your negative criteria, she may decide that you sound like a grumpy bastard.
5. It's good to say what you are looking for, but be careful that you aren't so specific that no one can meet your bar. One guy said, "I like to sail and live on my boat. I want to meet a woman who likes to sail and live on my boat." Do I want to live on his boat? No.
6. Women are very good at reading between the lines. Keep an eye out for the secret messages that you are sending her.
You write: "I like women who are high maintenance, wear hair extensions, and fake nails. If you are ugly, no offense, but I'm not interested."
Women read: "I'm looking for a trophy wife who I can cheat on when she gets old."
You write: "No picky eaters. No cat lovers. No mind games. NO ONE NAMED SUSAN."
Women read: "I'm a little bitter about my ex."
You write: "I'm very intense. I want an intense relationship. Get ready for the intensity of my love."
Women read: "Get ready to file a restraining order."
You write: "I want to date a woman who likes UFC, ATVs, dirt bike racing, repairing my truck, drinking Bud, and lighting my farts on fire."
Women read: "I'm perplexed by vaginas."
You write: "If you like to hook up with strangers and live in the Seattle area, you probably already know me."
Women read: "I'm contagious."
Hip Dexter did indeed take my suggestions, posted his charming and completely truthful profile, and sent mail to the target girl. And she wrote him back the next day! Way to go, Hip Dexter!
Clearly, I hang out with Hip Dexter because he is much, much smarter than I am.
Frog dreams or no, I should have been more strategic. When I posted my profile I didn't put too much effort into it because I was certain that my perfect guy would find me anyway…using MAGIC. Even if my profile were boring, he'd like me anyway…because of MAGIC. Make way for the unicorns: their tears heal broken hearts too!
Yes, yes, Internet, I'm stupid. However, one of my greatest strengths is my ability to realize that I'm stupid. After I sent off my recommendations to Hip Dexter, I spent several hours reading women's profiles and came up with a set of recommendations for myself which are realistic and don't rely on fairy godmothers.
Basically, the rules I gave Hip Dexter work equally well for women, except the second one changes to "SHOW CLEAVAGE".
Sha-zaaam! I had magic powers all along.