The Fool-Proof Guide to Failing with Flair

Everything you need to know about getting it wrong.

Must Have Teeth



As human beings we are programmed, at the most basic level, to want to be part of a pair at some point in our lives. We are built to be social not solitary. Politics, science and religion can agree on this one fact, even if they are at odds over the why and how. Sociology, culture, nurture, nature and all else aside, most of us want to feel connected to other people. We want to love and be loved, both emotionally and physically. We want to find someone who satisfies the “other” in us, with whom we can share our life and experiences. After all, what’s the point of being here if we are forever alone?

I may be a bit jaded and gun-shy about intimate relationships just now, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think about them, or don’t want friends, or never want to have sex again.  I’ve already said that I don’t currently hold any relationship ideology for myself. I’ve got work to do on my own “house” before I even consider whether I want a new roommate. I know I’m a little broken and need some time on my own. Sometimes I need to entertain myself though.

Get your mind out of the gutter.

I don’t belong, and never have belonged, to any dating websites. I don’t want to try to establish romantic relationships via chat or text or email. I’m old enough to still think of stuff like that as the last resort of the needy, desperate, or socially repugnant. I know that isn’t the case so much these days but I have determined that my judgment skills for picking out appropriate partners are remedial enough face-to-face. How can I trust them to be accurate without being able to read body language, or seeing how another person functions in real social situations? I have friends that have profiles on dating sites and they are not ugly or sociopaths or otherwise socially impaired. They just don’t have lives that lend themselves to meeting a variety of available romantic partners. I get it. Maybe it will work for them. Maybe it already has. I just can’t bring myself to join in.

I do have a guilty pleasure though. I like to read personal ads. I have never answered any, or been even remotely tempted, until today, to do so, but I find them highly entertaining. Years ago, when I was bored or in need of a laugh, I would go through the personal ads in the local papers and magazines. Now I just go to Craigslist. It’s hilarious. There are the occasional well-written and seemingly sincere ads, and I feel sorry for those people, because I know most of the responses their ads generate will be from hookers, marketers and spam sites. I read the “men seeking women” section (now m4w) because I’m a heterosexual woman but I’m sure there are amusing ads in the other categories as well.

Today I was perusing the jobs section on Craigslist. The job listings on CL are mostly a crap-shoot but I check them out on occasion anyway. After frustrating myself there for a couple of hours I decided to take a break and click over to the personals. There were lots of poorly written ads. (I have to confess here that another reason I don’t want to start a relationship via email is because I am critical of people’s writing skills. If you can’t spell, form a complete sentence, or use punctuation properly, you have a BIG strike against you before I even meet you. In fact, I probably don’t want to meet you if that’s the case. Judgmental? Yup. Hypocritical? Quite likely.) There were a couple of sweet, well written ads but mostly there were ads from guys who said they were looking for women who have certain qualities: athletic, skinny, fat, sexy, big boobs, funny, “thrifty, brave and kind”, alive, etc. There was one requested quality that showed up on almost every one of those lists though: “Must have teeth.”

Huh? Who the heck have these guys been dating? I most definitely never want to meet any of those guys. Apparently their current dating pools are filled with dentally challenged women. That may offer some prurient advantage for the less-discerning male, but I guess these guys like to share a steak and a smile with their dates every now and again. They just haven’t had a lot of luck with it. On the plus side, if that’s their major romantic concern, as long as you’ve got a nice smile, they probably won’t care much if you just got out of prison, have 6 kids, or can’t spell your own name.

There was one ad today that set my mouth-full-of-teeth on edge. The ads that are just asking for sex, or written with desperation and clichés, or from married men looking for a little something extra on the side don’t bother me. They are honest, if not enticing. Most of the guys who have lists of preferred qualities also include self-descriptions, likes, and dislikes. Some even come with pictures. However, the ad that made me grind my teeth (and put me at risk of not meeting the standard for dental whole-ness) was just a list of “must haves” for a woman looking to receive romantic consideration. Yes, “teeth” was on the list. So was an IQ above 115 and showering at least once a day. The list was numbered and extensive. It was arrogant and offensive. It was so offensive that I had to stop myself from getting a new, anonymous email address so I could respond and tell this guy how arrogant he is. I stopped myself because it would have been a waste of my time and energy, but also because I realized this poor idiot must have had some pretty awful romantic experiences and didn’t need judgment and vitriol from some woman who had no intention of getting to know him. At least the ad wasn’t a grammatical nightmare. I guess he’s got that going for him.

I think I’m done with my personal ad fetish. I don’t want to be alone forever, but I won’t help myself get over my issues, or find a future partner by reading ads from men who need to specifically request that their dates have teeth. And I certainly don’t need to get myself all riled up over the jerks that lurk around those places.

So long Craigslist Personals. It’s been fun but I think we have different goals. I hope we can still be friends.


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