I love living with grad students—we get student cable at a very reasonable rate, and that cable package includes On Demand. We get new movies for $3.99, which is especially convenient now that the Blockbuster near me is closing (grrr…). We also get some free movies, many of which are awesome (Say Anything, Marvin’s Room, The Silence of the Lambs), and the CBS shows and a bunch of cable shows on demand. Not to mention zillions of music videos and samples of every type of Scene It.
But tucked into a corner of the On Demand choices is an option called “The Cutting Edge.” After determining that the ice skating movie I saw at a sleepover when I was fourteen did not get its own On Demand option, I discovered that along with the “Vegas” option, which includes “Hooters On Demand” (seriously), and aptly named “Stupid Videos” (which includes a supposedly funny send-up of book clubs), there is an option called “The Singles Life.”
And under that? Along with episodes of Cheaters and four-minute videos with titles like “Think Like a Guy” (summary: don’t over-accessorize and don’t talk on your cell phone too loudly), we have…video personals!
Yes, seriously. They’re these videos with someone off-camera asking them questions (which you can’t hear, but you can tell what they are by the people’s responses) like, “What’s your biggest pet peeve?” and “What’s the sexiest thing about you?” I think they were filmed in a mall, so I kind of wonder if these people have seen themselves on TV and had second thoughts about what was maybe a snap decision while shopping.
And who are these people? Well, there’s one guy whose screen name is Nature 8125 and whose description (which you see before you choose to watch his video) reads, “Funky, fabulous, funny, forever dancing across amazing adventures from lifetime to lifetime singing beauty into existence & manifesting a peaceful, harmonious, happy and green planet.” His name is Nate, and he’s a local performance artist with thinning blonde hair that stands straight up. He teaches dance, wants to gain exposure as a comedian, calls himself “deeply spiritual,” and won’t date a Republican. He describes his ideal woman as “kind of tribal” and “warrior-esque with crazy hair and intense eyes,” and she loves “to move her body really really fast” and “to eat really slowly and sensually.” Then there’s RabbitHunter, who says the most interesting thing about him is that he still lives at home at twenty-six. I give him two points for honesty, but really…that’s the most interesting thing about him? Outgoing says that his worst date was with a girl who had a horrible, loud-pitched laugh, but he never got to go on that date because he left. Real prize, that Outgoing. On the other hand, Vincent78 (whose name is actually Jason) says he would like a girl with an “insane laugh” because he has one himself.
There are other categories, but I’m not exactly sure what the criteria are for fitting into them. I don’t know how the girls under “Hotties” and “Naughty” are any different from the other girls listed—their ads certainly don’t seem any different, except that they have user names like Sorority girl and Naughty_femme_ohso_sexy. For the guys, there are “Bad Boys,” one of whom is MooseCalledJim (his name is Justin) who’s eighteen and has long hair and a weird hat and looks like a stoner. “None of my bands have taken off yet,” he says. The guys under the Mr. Right category seem a little more normal—at least Dante123’s name is actually Dante.
I’m laughing, but in actuality, these people aren’t any different from anyone who posts on dating sites like match.com and eHarmony. And millions of people do that—the On Demand people have just done it in a more public way. But there’s no shame in looking for love (or at least a date) online. I’ve never joined a dating site, although I can’t say I never will, but many of my friends have, some with more success than others. But where’s the shame in them? After you graduate from college, where are you supposed to meet new guys? On the T?
I think it can be kind of embarrassing to admit to using a dating site, though, because it’s often a last resort. At work this week, a co-worker was talking about a date she’d recently been on, and when I asked her where she met the guy, her skin tone progressed from salmon to fire-engine before she admitted that it was match.com and swore me to secrecy.
So while it’s easy for me to laugh at people looking for dates via my cable package, at the end of the day I have to say I respect them. At least they’re putting themselves out there. But I do wonder if any of them have found a date in a bored On Demand subscriber based on one night they spent in front of a video camera at a mall.