My blog was being under-visited lately, so here’s a shamelessly juicy collection of my dating opening letters from the last 11 months of OKCupid correspondence. From Dec 10, 2011 to Nov 24, 2012 I sent 463 letters to women and received replies on about half of those (higher than the expected reply rate of about 29%). As these are all my words and no names or accounts are included, I feel no guilt in publishing my sometimes inspired and often poor (but always amusing) attempts to woo the fairer sex.
Some brief intros:
- In a post-apocalyptic world, don’t you think skilled metal workers will be overrated? Do you harbor dreams of building solar cookers amidst the rubble?
- I’ll give you man’s inhumanity to man, but what proof is there that humankind has been given inhumane treatment to shoes?
- Hah! You cheated with an octopus? Taken out of the vegetarian context, it sounds really exotic!
- Ever wonder why so many people mention sense of humor as an important match thingy but it is the last thing they list, then suddenly it’s the most important? Am I guilty of that? Let me check… yup.
- It’s okay to love the Elements of Style. I may be one of the few quantitative types that can quote from it. Rule 13: Omit needless words….
- Wow! asymmetric architecture made it to #2 on your list of important things to like. I don’t know how I feel about it. I guess I like both kinds. Is there some building that you really dig?
- Oh no! Another WaWa activist. (or Wactivist?)…
- What does looking for love have to do with being a licensed social worker? maybe I misunderstood your profile
- [REPLY] Well the baby elephant photo is my one obligatory exotic photo.
- You’re still wiggling around? I’d a thought you were all settled by now.
- I don’t know if you know this, but I just ranked all the female profiles in the DC area by “profile rating” and yours comes out as #1. Have you got any idea why?
From girls’ profile: “My self-summary: There are two kinds of people in this world: those who masturbate to Jimmy Page, and those who don’t.”
My intro: Next time you are, ahem, masturbating to Jimmy Page, you might want to pause long enough to watch this documentary featuring the master: [It might get Loud]
- So in the 1880s, was a bustle a butt or just an apparatus for making one’s butt look big and sexy?
- So do you carry around a doppler radar? I’ve never considered it to belong on my essential items list.
- Which Island are you trying to get back to?
- I just searched for “spork” and you came up. I guess that’s a secret magnet-word to finding other people who are little off kilter. You really pack a Titanium Spork?
- That story of the breakup isn’t nearly as scary as you make it out. If after a marriage you see the sun more than the rain clouds, you’ve grown.
[Side thought: An unfinished novel is full of possibility, and yet full of impossibility.]
- How is your pickle making project going? And what do you like to write about?
- Dude! I have that SAME shark hat (which is no longer your main profile pic by the way – you might need to modify your opening lines so as to not reference it).
- So another name you could add to your self-descriptors might be post-apocalyptic-literary-anthropologist.
(What did you win?)
My instantly popping into existence prize for the best profile to say a lot whilst revealing virtually nothing – demographically speaking.
[This girl did not reply.]
- Hah! Whenever someone on OK writes “Other and very serious about it” for religion I can almost assume they are a UU.
Kids are so tasty, it’s hard to control yourself!
This came up while discussing the Q: Do you generally smile at little kids who cross your path?
Her Explanation: “Or eat them.”
- The first thing I notice is that you certainly love [[tagging]] your profile! What’s your PhD in? Something like bioinformatics or “information engineering”*?
(*I just made that second one up).
- RECEIVED: I like broccoli and mushrooms too….and cooking….and inspiring people too.
- “A 75-year-old man said, ‘You are not responsible for all the things that happen to you, but you are completely in control of your attitude and your reactions to them.’ An 84-year-old said, ‘Adopt a policy of being joyful.’ … and a 93 year old man said “Eh? what was that?”
- So do you eat Nutella on your morning run whilst listening to Morning Edition? IS that like an orgasmic experience for ya?
- It might concern you to know that google ads / OKcupid think that the perfect ad to display beside your (and only your) profile is “Battlefield 3” – the shoot-em-up game for macho guys.
- Tell me, who pays you to ask everyone else what they’re doing with their life? So much is shrouded in mystery, your profile is.
- RECEIVED: I can’t date you if your ring finger is shorter than your index finger. Here’s why.
My three best introduction letters:
(1) snowboarding as a metaphor for plunging into introduction letters
Seems like my first introduction did not elicit a response from you. I typically forget about a woman I wrote the prior week and whom showed no interest, but your profile really did spark my curiosity. Even if you don’t requite, let me entertain.
So I went snowboarding today. First time in 2 years. I forgot how much I missed it. It is the ultimate “zen” sport. Unlike skiing, which is about strength and speed once you master staying up, snowboarding offers up some interesting metaphors about life as you lazily swish and swash your way through tufts of childlike snow. You’ve got to balance much more, and like life, you cannot just grow a third leg or stop moving until you have yourself in order. You must lean into the slope and throw your weight forward down the mountain and learn to stay afloat while gaining speed. There’s no way to practice snowboarding while standing still. In fact, the surest way to corrupt your balance is to try and flatten your board against the slope for maximum stability. That stability just an illusion. As soon as you hit the smallest bump, you’ll flail spasticly if you’re flat footed. I think Nietsche wrote the same thing somewhere. You are most in control when you have the narrowest edge pressed against the mountain and you are dancing on your tippy toes. This is how you exercise your risk taking muscles – the same ones that help when launching a new company or life experiment.
It doesn’t matter which foot you lead with down the mountain, just so long as you commit to it and lean down that mountain. And I learned that twirling and spinning your way down gives you more control than keeping your sights straight ahead and bracing for the bumps. You can’t outbrace bumps, but you can twirl through them.
And turning -– don’t “prepare” to change direction; you must be ready when moment is right and you must act without hesitation. To turn well, you shift your behind in the opposite way of your legs to shift balance for a sharp turn. The whole thing is like making your body spin two parts in opposite directions like one of those ultra high speed jet engines, only more graceful. To keep control, you’ve got to leave yourself hanging out there – butt and legs going east and west – all while emptying your mind and enjoying the ride.
That’s a bit like introducing yourself to a stranger on a dating site. You fall down sometimes, but when you catch yourself and get your timing right, the feeling can be amazing.
(2) twinkies, flawed humanity, and my religious ideas book
[AS A REPLY]
I’ll try to avoid being a twinkie -you know- a tasty and everlasting perfectly machine-formed ovoid mentality built on the shortcomings of shortbread hopes with a too-sweet creamy center. Something about your ‘too good to be true’ comment got me thinking about the big twinkie experiment of 1998. My roommate and I constructed a shrine (or perhaps an altar of sacrifice) for said twinkie and watched it NOT decompose for 9 months. It did get a little bit dryer, but not smelly, fly-attracting, or gag-awful. It’s amazingly non-organic.
I on the other hand am a cornucopia of flawed humanity. I write one partially inspired manuscript after another in a vain (hopeless, not vanity) attempt to capture teen angst, or the deceptive nature of evil faking good-gasm. My next one will be a spy novel, inspired by that college roommate who spawned the twinkie experiment. He was offered the chance to be a super spy because he outwitted the FBI at age 17. They wanted him, even though he failed high school algebra 4 times. Examples of flawed humanity, like a beautiful sunset, are present every day – if only we make ourselves aware to both kinds of beauty.
Perhaps that’s why I write – I considered writing a book about religious ideas ten years ago. Then I realized I don’t read those books. If I have something important to say about life, death, and beyond, it will have to seep into the characters that populate my fiction, because I only write books I’m willing to read. So far at least one character in each book has said things that I liked reading. They are never things that the conscious Marc ever thought of – they take on a life of their own. That’s why I’m addicted to writing – I never know what will come out of my fingertips, and the surprises amaze me more because the pages are locked away in my own subconcsious – the Book of the Soul*, if you will.
(*Book of the Soul was the title of the religious ideas book I never wrote. But if I am finding pages of it in my fiction from time to time, then I suppose I am writing that book. Does this message count as part of that book too? I wonder.)
(3) 42, winkishness, and algorithmically developing intro letters
So would that be yet another “winkish” way to communicate? I actually have the skills to articulate things, but as you might notice, I don’t automatically know the right thing to say to start a conversation with every person on earth.
Now that I think of it, THAT would be a highly profitable phone app. Instead of giving me stalkish details about a person, just think for me and tell me what to say. On second thought I’d have more fun programming the thing than using it.
I saw a TED talk this week about program evolution. Instead of trying to write the best program, the guy was just feeding “words” into a program that was generating a billion random programs, then testing each one that actually compiles against some kind of outcome, like sorting numbers. Then he would iterate more conservatively on the ones that compile with a slower rate of mutation. The results are programs that are written in a very unusual way but a few of these work faster than the standard way.
I want to do that where the goal is to generate interesting dating introductions for use on OKCupid. Though I assure you this introduction was not generated by any robot, algorithm, or evolutionary design. It’s inadequacies are purely my own accomplishment (or decomplishment).
Wow, I’ve totally just gone off topic. I apologize. I liked your profile and I’d like to hear about your thesis. Maybe talking about your thesis on a dating site will focus you on finishing it!
PS – you’ve got good taste in music. Heard of Fun. yet?
Enjoyed it? My dating profile is here.
The seven rules to writing a decent profile are the same as writing a compelling personal essay. This book explains it in more detail.
Part II: The Dating Dashboard – Read about my crunching the numbers on a year of OKcupid correspondence