What’s wrong with this ad?

Ghost Writer (Compensation: $15/hour plus bonus)
Very busy executive would like to hire a writer to send emails on his behalf on personal dating websites. And do a few emails back and forth to get the ball rolling. This person needs to know how to write in a masculine, but romantic, way and at the same time create a challenge for the reader of the email.

This is an actual, unabridged classified advertisement. No kidding. I scan postings like these regularly in search of freelance writing work. Something tells me I ought to employ search engine minimization techniques here to avoid attracting the wrong sort of attention to the blog, which could be irremediable, but I can’t help it. I’ve been laughing all day.

Imagine the negotiations between the harried executive and his articulate stand-in, Cyrano, who wisely would refrain from asking these questions:

  1. If you’re that busy, why not streamline the entire process, reduce the paperwork, and go the traditional route? (Do pimps even exist anymore?) YouTube has downsized a major business. You can now deal directly with the source, who probably accepts PayPal.
  2. Dating websites? Aren’t they designed to make this process as simple, straightforward, and expedient as possible? And it’s still too much effort? See #1.
  3. What exactly does “get the ball rolling” mean? I’m afraid to ask.
  4. Did the inspiration for this strategy come from Pierre Bayard’s How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read? You might need Bayard’s helpful tips after the ball starts rolling. Or were you planning to hire a stunt double for the tricky parts?
  5. Does Cyrano need to know the gender of the object of desire? Maybe not.
  6. What’s the challenge method? Oh, right; it’s Cyrano’s job to design that. And there’s a bonus involved.
  7. In the process of outsourcing the romance, might you be skipping the most tantalizing part of the game by eliminating the suspense of not knowing whether you’ll be rejected? Seriously. I’m wondering how much tedious, burdensome, annoying ecstasy you can delegate and still call it dating.

Asynchronous lovemaking, anyone? Somehow this particular ad reminds me of a West Side outlaw motorcycle gang an old partner once told me about—the one with no motorcycles.

motorcycle - Joel Dietle

  Photo courtesy of Joël Dietlé

2 thoughts on “What’s wrong with this ad?

  1. T.T. Thomas

    Good lord… I suppose it could help me with my romance novel… I’ve always loved the concept of Cyrano. But, nah, who could put up with a fraud like this guy? I think he’s hoping his applicants (for the ghostwriting job) will go out with him. That so leaves me out… in oh so many ways! Thanks G-d! Very funny, Robin… but you gotta give those ads a rest!

  2. Robin Mizell Post author

    I had no idea how far behind the times I was. Two years ago, A.J. Jacobs predicted in “My Outsourced Life” that American CEOs had not yet begun to explore the possibilities of offshoring:

    Honey has completed her first project for me: research on the person Esquire has chosen as the Sexiest Woman Alive. (See page 232.) I’ve been assigned to write a profile of this woman, and I really don’t want to have to slog through all the heavy-breathing fan Web sites about her. When I open Honey’s file, I have this reaction: America is fucked. There are charts. There are section headers. There is a well-organized breakdown of her pets, measurements, and favorite foods (e.g., swordfish). If all Bangalorians are like Honey, I pity Americans about to graduate college. They’re up against a hungry, polite, Excel-proficient Indian army.

    Jacobs is spot on. I might as well forget the freelance career. I’m toast.

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