Sexless in the City

Sometimes reading romance novels doesn’t quite prepare you for a love life...

For this 30-year-old urbanite, love is always a misadventure: The Harvard Lickwit, Hippie the Groper, the 5% Man, and the Ad Weasel. These and many other men wander in and out of her life — but never her bed.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

The spam approach to pick-up emails

Last night when I got home, I arrived to possibly the most appalling email, ever. I say this not because I, personally, am appalled, but because I am appalled on behalf of the hapless sap who sent it — who clearly does not even grasp the egregious nature of his mistake. Hell, I’m appalled on behalf of his mother!

At first glance, it looks pretty harmless:
I am a 27 year old male who lives in Philadelphia. I work in the construction business as a planner. I am still fairly new to the city after moving here from California after college about 5 years ago. You sound like a nice girl. You can find my picture attached. As for me, I enjoy a little of everything but it would probably be nice to spend some of that time with you. Who knows.....maybe!!

Looney Tune
Maybe NOT
Attached is a grainy j-peg of our antihero, holding what appears to be the head of a cartoonish blow-up doll in his lap. I am utterly at a loss to otherwise identify the object, unless it is some sort of basketball painted to resemble a Looney Tunes figure. It is clearly an inflated object. With semi-human features.

Now the photo’s not great, by any means (reminds me of the terrible pictures posted by one of my first-ever chat — I mean “whisper” — buddies on Udate; that guy lived in the midwest somewhere, and thought I’d appreciate him regalling me with accounts of the local, possibly underage, Udate conquest he fucked in his kitchen) ... but it alone is not enough to provoke such horror. Mainly my initial reaction is, Unfortunate photo. And why he’d email me? Another one who didn’t read the ad well. (Sigh)

But then I glance up. I glance up to the subject-line area. And I see to my shock not “” (which he would have gotten from reading this blog), but the “anon1234987@craigslist” email of the personal ad.

Here’s the kicker: I can’t actually tell which one is my email address because it’s not just sent to me! There’s a total of six, yes, six anon@craigslist email addresses in the “To:” line — plus two more cut off by my email program!!

Literally, I am in shock.

I mean, yes, he’s a construction worker. But for God’s sake. He’s a planner in construction. Is it really possible to be this clueless?!!

A recap of the strategy errors
  • Bad picture — OK, understandable. Easy mistake.
  • Writing to a personal ad that’s really not a date-solicitation at all — slightly less-excusable, but still he’s in good company (maybe four other such emails have so far been directed to me).
  • Writing-in-hopes-of-a-date to a woman who lives in New York — stretching the limits of judgment, but hey, Philly’s only two hours away, right? Wouldn’t you be willing to drive that distance just to meet a “nice girl”? (Surely he drives; he’s from California.) Regarding this geographic gaucheness, he’s actually not the worst. Two days ago I got emails from men in San Francisco and London (yes, I promo’d myself on Craigslists there). Then again ... re-reading the Londoner’s email reveals he also sent his email to multiple women. He at least was clever enough to BCC us (British men are so much smarter), resulting in “Undisclosed-recipients” as his message-object. That does explain a few things ...
  • Hi,

    I'm [Name] and I work in a bank.

    I'm an honest and genuine caring kind of guy.

    I enjoy ethnic foods - especially chinese and indian - going to a movie - and travelling.

    Have been to Canada 3 times - including coast to coast by train - and have also been to Ukraine.

    If you want to know more - or meet - then email me or call 01234 678903.
    But back to Looney Tune:

  • Sending the same email to multiple women — unproductive in the resulting vagueness, but something you could easily conceal ... with a little common sense!!! Take this sample:
  • Hi. I saw your profile and I would like to get to know
    you better. I’m looking for some fun. I’m a 22 year
    old white male. I’m 6’2” 200lbs. I live in NE Philly.
    Let me know either way.
    This guy probably multi-sent the email too (note the same geographic mistake). But at least he took the time to use one email address! Joey from SanFran even used my real email, suggesting he cursorily read the blog (although he didn’t mention it).
If you’re going to spam the wimmin, do it right
Our antihero, Looney Tune, however, has clearly never heard of BCCing. Too bad. He could’ve still only sent one email but either followed the British banker’s approach or put the first “anon@craigslist” email in the “To:” line, then stuck all the others in BCC. Who really keeps track of what random-generated email address you get? Unless you’re measuring the success of multiple ads ... but even in that case, would you really remember which set of numbers is yours?!

And yet, on balance, the logic is so clear. Most efficient thing to do, right? You’re interested in eight women, you’re hoping for a little weekend action ... but you don’t want to write eight emails. So you craft a generic email — the e-dating equivalent of a stock pickup line. Hell, maybe you even recycle the same damn email every week you skim the ads! If you’re dating as many women as some guys are, it’s a pretty efficient strategy (some men I know of use spreadsheets to keep all the women straight).

But efficiency only goes so far. (Bangs head against laptop.) In this case it’s very likely to backfire.

I wish that someone, somewhere, could’ve taught these guys to just be themselves. Then again, that might be just what Looney Tune did. However, if he takes this kind of scripted, short-cut approach to merely meeting women, he probably takes the same route when talking to them. There were times when I was still sort of dating Sgt. Ex-sessories that I felt like he was saying whatever; I had no confidence he was being genuine. Rather, he seemed so terrified that Sgt. John wouldn’t get his fix that night, he’d say anything to the further the cause. Smile and nod. “Sure, honey, that sounds great!” Smile and nod ... remember to maintain eye contact! And now, maybe casually touch her thigh ... Smile and nod ... Sometimes I wanted to say to him, “Relax and be yourself! I’ll like you much better that way. I promise.”

Light at the end of the ... flashlight
On the upside, there are probably women out there just like him. Maybe one of these days, Looney Tune will happen to email Lady Loopy — along with five other women. And maybe she’ll have the heart to say:
Wow, that’s so sweet. You sound like a nice guy, Jim/Todd/Frank/Sam. Let’s get together real soon.

I Can't Believe I'm Buying This Book: A Commonsense Guide to Successful Internet Dating
I Can't Believe I'm Buying This Book: A Commonsense Guide to Successful Internet Dating

Online Dating For Dummies (For Dummies Series)
Online Dating For Dummies (For Dummies Series)

Once Upon a Blind Date
Once Upon a Blind Date