I tell him I'm glad my womanly radar warned me against him. He responds with a cocky e-mail about how the host isn't his type -- but "you seem like you might be my type." I shoot back that I'm not sure it's a good idea: "I feel a bit guilty about borrowing another woman's man. " I was hoping to see a hint of remorse, something to humanize him. He says meet him this afternoon for a drink, and one of two things will happen: I'll feel uncomfortable, or I'll want to meet him later for a nightcap. (oh, that one slipped out -- do you have any fantasies? He says, "I was hoping online dating would introduce me to different girls than the ones I pick up and seduce in bars, clubs and starbucks. He responds: "you know how they say the forbidden fruit is always the best ." Nope. So far not."It was the closest thing to an admission of guilt that I was going to get. And is he actually trying to leverage his two minutes on an obscure cable-network show into sex with a hot mistress?
I respond: "What gives you the idea that I'm sometimes a handful? One major strategy Strauss talks about is to mildly insult a beautiful woman, lower her self-esteem, thus making her more vulnerable to your advances. Finally, he brings out his trump card: "Considering that I know most of the people in the book personally from before the book was released, I'm gonna have to disagree."Aha. "Being a business guy who's ballsy enough to try to be on television, contemplating running for political office" -- wait, did he just say he was contemplating running for political office?
So I e-mail handful guy as Michelle: "Have you read the Game by Neil Strauss? I hit the sleazeball jackpot, a longtime pickup artist. " He asks me to watch him and tell him what I think. Afterward, I e-mail to ask if he was flirting with the host. -- "moving to ten states for my job, romantic fantasies.
She's twenty-seven and looks like a normal-lipped Angelina Jolie. on a Wednesday, a couple of hours after Michelle had gone home, her profile was approved and popped up online. What if it went unnoticed for weeks, gathering dust in an obscure corner of the Internet? Her profile was viewed within the first three minutes. The page-view counter shot up to eight, fourteen, twenty. I know that technically these guys aren't e-mailing me. Michelle could have responded with a random string of letters and numbers, perhaps an umlaut and a backward slash, and these guys would be encouraged enough to ask her on a date. • If the guy uses more than two exclamation points in one sentence. You walk out onstage wearing a lacy black bra from which your breasts are spilling out, and it barely covers your nipples. You are almost rubbing your breasts and your crotch in the faces of the men in the front row...end their agony and rip off your bra and thong, and your gorgeous, naked body is out there for all to see.... I know famous people get away with a lot because of their fame. I had been worried that Michelle's online personality would be too different from the way she acts in real life. I realize it's because I'm vicariously experiencing the feelings of a crush, the excitement, the possibility, both on Michelle's part and the rocker's. And it's bittersweet, because I know that I can't experience that sensation firsthand. But he's right about one thing: She gets lots of dudes complimenting her looks. She's been called the entire "attractive" entry of the thesaurus: "captivating," "luminescent," "radiant." "How many of them do you think read the profile? It's a side of men that other men just don't get to see. Which is why I log on to the dating service and do a search for "depressed" and another one for "lonely." I find this:"ummmm, I just turned 28.
But Michelle -- though I've changed her name for this story -- is real. I've always been the chaser, so I didn't realize quite how radically the balance of power shifts when you're the chasee. By the way -- just a friendly tip: The username sexygentleman might turn some women off. • If the guy lists his best feature as "butt" (ironically or not). ) I'd like to see you strip for other men, and as we're entering the club you have on a long fur coat and you're wearing stiletto heels, but underneath the coat I know you've got on little else...."It's a well-crafted, highly detailed account that stretches a good two pages."... Almost melancholy, like something out of a Goethe novel. One cheese ball has written, "I know that you probably get tons of emails from dudes trying to use coy pickup lines. I wanna know if you're beautiful on the inside." This is about as believable as a leak to Judith Miller. Not just because the e-mails from interested men keep flooding in, unabated. The only thing more surprising than the quantity and deviousness of the creeps was the emotional honesty and fragility of the noncreeps. To paraphrase another guy with a double identity, with great beauty comes great responsibility.
A martial-arts enthusiast admits flat out that he's not worthy of Michelle but wants to let her know that "you are gorgeous." A forty-one-year-old classical musician writes, "Not being striking in the looks department, I am someone who needs a chance to show his intellect and soul. He apologizes for the length, but "they just flow out of me." I don't mind. "I must confess that I am currently involved with someone but quite frankly am looking for a girl on the side...."As you noticed I have no photo to share but I periodically represent my company on national TV.
And I realize how hard that will be when the first impression is made by pictures and written words, but I most sincerely hope you will give me the benefit of the doubt." You want to take these guys out for a milk shake. Michelle and I send them encouraging notes: "You are a bit out of my age range, so I don't think it will work out. Most of these guys are too lazy to form a complete thought. I'll be on [show you've never heard of on a minor cable network].
As in: "You are a very pretty lady." "I think you are very attractive." "You look very pretty."I've been approached by more than six hundred men, and that's one of the big themes I've discovered in their method: Cut to the chase. No one can believe quite how beautiful my nanny is. I'd be her online bouncer, bodyguard, censor, and Cyrano. (And mind you, I did type in the essay and clean up her grammar.) Esquire Editor-at-Large A. Jacobs is the author of A Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible. Michelle has given me permission to reject the guys who are clearly wrong. I zap him back, "Sorry guvnor, no plans to come over there." I liked my response. The cute scientist with the Prince Charles ears, the guy from Long Island with eight siblings. I spend an hour crafting personal rejection notes to yesterday's discard pile. ("Chemestry is important.") I don't want to be a spelling snob, but the first word? Then he concludes: "..you'd like to continue the fantasy by telling me how you'd react..."Okay. Though a little bit like a douchebag in my own right. J." and begs her to "come out an play." I don't respond. In a last-minute panic attack out of Three's Company, I call Michelle to tell her she went to a Super Bowl party. He's very sweet." I feel giddy enough to do an actual fist pump.
She's sweet, funny, has a smile straight out of a cruise-line commercial, and wears adorable tank tops. I'd sign her up for a dating site, create a profile, sift through her suitors, and cowrite her e-mails. ("I want someone who will make me laugh at the littlest thing.") We clicked her preferences (fish and dogs are the best pets) and uploaded seven smiley, PG-rated photos with nothing more risqué than an exposed shoulder or two. Not quite Huffington Post numbers but brisk traffic. Still, it's an exhilarating feeling to be so desired, if only by proxy. The next day, I show Michelle a half dozen men with potential. After forty-five minutes of boyfriend shopping, Michelle leaves with our son for a trip to the museum. (One enthusiast wrote: "Hello there beautiful!!!!!!!!!!!!! ") • If the guy misspells the first word of his introductory essay. I know you're turned on because your nipples are so hard...." It continues with a graphic description of things she does to the audience. I take the offensive."I found your fantasy disturbing on many levels. I felt like you were exhibiting me to other men like a piece of meat. But i think its best if we end our conversations here."I feel gleeful about punishing this guy. She's usually much shyer than the hybrid we've created. But no, Michelle told me she actually made herself act less shy to conform to her online self. ' And I made him turn around in a circle before I said, 'Not bad.' " I'm psyched. Michelle doesn't yet know if the chemistry is there, but the rocker is definitely worth a second date. I love being married -- I love its depth and comfort -- but I miss the crush. watchmeontelevision, you don't get to feel the rush of the crush.
But I think you're a nice-looking gentleman." Still, it's rejection, and a lot of men take it hard. A rambling e-mail is better than "u a hottie." It's from a guy with the screen name "watchmeontelevision." Who could it be?
"Never will we share a malbec overlooking the Rio at CÛrdoba in Argentina," writes one Harley-riding architect. Never will you look into mine." A bit over-the-top, but I know what he's saying.
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