December 12, 2005

Into the Void

Okay, so I've spent the last year and a half poking fun at JDate with my Shabot comics. Which is why it is so ironic that, due to recent circumstances, I have once again returned to the clutches of that cursed online dating service.

Times sure have changed since I last used JDate, which was way back in early 2001. Now there are "Flirts" and "Teases", new ways of telling someone you are too lame to even construct an e-mail. And you can see who has looked at your profile, and at what time, and if you've been added to a Hot List (although I think this feature must be broken). There is also a quirky Instant Message system that apparently allows you to send a one-way message to another member while you sit and stare at the screen for a long time, but get no response. It's good fun.

It would be even more fun if someone would write back to my JDate letters. I only write to women whose profiles I find appealing, and I try to show genuine interest by composing highly personalized messages instead of resorting to a generic stock letter.

My sorrowfully ineffective method has been to start with a humorous reference to their profile, to show I was actually paying attention. For your enjoyment, I've compiled a select list of actual clips from letters I've sent to other JDate members. Invariably, I get no response.

Tell me, would you write back?

To the psychologist:
Can I book an hour of couch time?

To the entrepreneur who quit law school and her job on Wall St. to start a cookie company:
Subject: I did it all for the cookie
Message: Wall Street, law school, now cookies. You're in it for the DOUGH!

To the "Vice President with Looks"
I typically only date Presidents but I would be willing to lower the bar and make an exception here.

To the girl who, well ... I can understand why she didn't write back:
If we went on a date I think I could overcome the fact that you bear an uncanny resemblance to my sister.

To a girl who claims "Make me laugh and I become like silly puddy":
Would be great to make you laugh so you become like silly puddy. Then we could press you against a newspaper and make an impression of the newsprint.

To the defense attorney:
If I was a defense attorney, every night when I went to sleep, I'd shout, "The defense rests!"

To a girl who insists "I also want to meet a man who knows what he's doing in bed."
You got me thinking, am I a man who knows what he's doing in bed? Well, I know I'm reaching over to carve another notch on the bedpost, and sometimes I'm phoning my mates to tell them I've scored again. I'm kidding. These days it's all about text messaging.

NB: I actually did hear back from this gal, and we went on a date. She confessed that all the bedroom talk was just a way to lure men into sending her outrageous responses for a social experiment she is conducting. We are sure to be best of friends.

To the girl who awards "big bonus points if you love to read":
In response to your essay, I must confess: I am not a reader. It's not that I don't like to read ... I CAN'T read! I never learned how. Sure, I can write, but I can never go back and read what I've written to make corrections. (You may be asking, how did I read your letter? Easy: Helper monkey)

To the girl looking for Prince Charming:
Subject: I'm Prince Farming
Message: I don't know how charming I am, but I was born on a farm.

To the graduate from a "top university":
[...] To maintain your reputation as an MBA from a top university, you should correct the typo with "atrractive" in that last paragraph.

To the girl who loves sharks:
P.S. -- You dig sharks, eh? I have an ancient fossilized 4" long shark tooth (that's not a pickup line).

To the speech language pathologist:
Subject: Aphasia got me in a haze-ia

To the girl whose biggest turn-off is negativity:
I'm trying to come up with a way to say, "I'm not negative", but that in itself is a double negative.

To the girl with no picture, and a "small frame" body type
Do you have a photo to go with that small frame of yours?

It is going to be a long winter for the JewishRobot.


Esther Kustanowitz said...

Great post. And now, the unsolicited criticism. You're being too clever. Sure, we ladies love the witty wordsmiths, but if it seems too sarcastic, that can be a red flag. Also, there's a subtle difference between respectful and clever reacting to the content of a profile and that moment when we ask ourselves..."is he for real?"

Of course, all of these "one-liners," precious and clever though they are, undoubtedly had contexts in which you rendered your self-portrait as the sensitive, funny guy you are, so I'm sure that you never crossed any line over into the angrier area of sarcasm. In which case these women are either idiots, or, more likely, non-members who never even got these letters...

Shabot 6000 said...

I suppose I could try to be less clever in my e-mails, but eventually the puns are going to flow, and someone is going to cringe sooner or later. I'd almost rather filter out the weak of heart early on.

Oh, I'm pretty sure the recipients are active members, since one of the new features is that you can see who is a Most Active Member, and also if they read your message.

I think there is even a way to sort by Most Sexually Active Member.

Esther Kustanowitz said...

"filter out the weak of heart early on."--fair enough.

But FYI, there's no proof that "active members" means that they're "paying members," it just means they log on a lot. If they read your msg...that's less murky.

There is a way to sort by Most Sexually Active: you visit the chat room, where they sort themselves.

Anonymous said...

I concur with Esther. The cleverer you think you are, the blanker the girl's face will be as she reads your message in her inbox. The less effort, the better. Or better yet, think more of yourself than being a Jdater. Too, too much tzurus.
No, I'm not bitter.

Abacaxi Mamao said...

If I were a paying member, which I am not, I would have written back. However, I agree with Esther that you're being a bit too clever. Soemtimes too much cleverness seems kind of, well, smarmy to me. It's not the puns, it's the "he doesn't know me well enough" kind of thing. (Why do I think someone should know me well to pun a lot? I don't know.) And, in response to a comment left on Esther's blog (which I should really respond to there), for the love of God please don't dumb it down.

Anonymous said...

I'll try to put this delicately. Your emails are quite unappealling. We women detest puns made by anyone under 70. Seriously, they were pretty awful. If you are going to be funny in an email, it better be funny. Not to you. Not to your mom. But to the recipients. If you are truly funny, your own profile should bear evidence. Just have them read that, and not ruin your chances with what will likely be seen as a smarmry, unfunny line.

Shabot 6000 said...

Anon, maybe I'm doing myself a huge favor by writing what I think is funny. If someone writes back, at least we may share the same terrible sense of humor.

If I'm not being myself with what I write, I might as well upload photos of someone else.

Anonymous said...

Thats one school. The other is, at least get the date, and then see if you click. If my current beau had told me he occassionally smoked before I met him, I would never have gone out with him. I did, and once I got to know him - and liked him - I dealt with the smoking. People - particularly us women - make quick judgments online, and if one thing throws them off at the start they wont give you a chance, even if they wouldnt have minded that thing otherwise. Just a thought.
Generally, I have found that the opening email is irrelevant - its the profile that makes us decide yes or no.

Anonymous said...

I thought your puns were laugh-out-loud funny, and I happen to be on jdate myself (perhaps I have a lousy sense of humor as well.) Now the only problem is—if i got an email from you with a pun like that, I would be annoyed—even though I happen to think they were funny, and I think you're kind of cute and interesting.

Using puns in emails generated to show interest in someone set the wrong tone when first initiating contact with a person. It looks like you're spending too much time trying to be witty, rather than just trying to show interest in that person. Women are turned off when it looks like a guy is trying to hard to get their attention.

In fact, your puns make you look like a smart-ass, and subconsiously shows some aversion to the entire medium in general (and thats a turn-off as well.) You shouldn't have to write a catchy one-liner to get someone's attention. Would you be using these one-liners to go up to someone in a bar? Didn't think so.

Shabot 6000 said...

I should point out that I do write more than just the one-liner clips I've listed in this post. The rest of a typical message I write is considerably standard fare, short and sweet (e.g. "So tell me about Research Marketing", "How long have you been on JDate?", "I really admire your blah blah blah") I try to avoid the cliché "I liked your profile" line, it's too obvious. The one-liner is just to make an otherwise ordinary letter stand out.

Anonymous said...

i'm a guy.
and on jdate.
and apparently i got 934 messages from girls on that lovely jewish moneymaking machine.
not that i know what they write cause i just have info hidden in my profile so if they are curious enough they'll read carefully (and many do). i don't see why would anyone pay for this service. better subvert it. it's more fun.

to the point: it works for me
and so i feel a little (not a lot) qualified to offer the following critique:

your one-liners are not funny. sorry. they are also not that clever. they sound like lines intended for a woody allenesque dialogue. not for girls you are trying to interest. it also makes you sound like you are trying too hard. and it makes you sound defensive.

so write something longer damn it. talk about your cartoons. about why you care to draw them. why others might care to look at them. make yourself stand out by being unusual and yet friendly, not by trying to appear condescending and a smartass. it's all too easy to be one.

oh and you are 5'6". it's nice of you to be sincere. but make yourself 5'8. if girls like you, they'll forgive you for this minor lie. but i bet many girls don't even give themselves a chance to discover how cool you are because they filter you out based on height. so i'd say try it out (personal disclaimer: i never had to do it myself, but i heard from plenty of girls that for them going on a first date with a short guy would be an issue, yet if they knew him already, it wouldn't. yes it's stupid. but that's america. you might consider a cartoon on the topic :) )

Anonymous said...

Hey, this is commenter #11. In response to that last comment, i would have to say that any girl who is stupid enough not to respond to a guy based on height is losing out, especially if the guy is cool.Hence, you shouldn't have to lie or try too hard to get dates -if you do you will turn people away.

In fact, i went out with a guy recently that lied about his age to me beforehand, took off about 4 years. I was a bit miffed about the fact that he lied, so why start the process by giving out misinformation in the first place?

Besides, I like short men. Not every girl is going to delete an email from a guy who's shorter than 5'8". Maybe 5'2", but not if the guy sounded REALLY cool. Life's too short for this bullshit.

melinama said...

Your lines sound like the pickup lines guys use in bars in the sitcoms. I would not respond - though I would not mind these jokes if I knew you already. I like an email that seems more like a real person.

Also, I detest it when guys lie about their height - or weight or age or anything else. If they start lying right away, who knows when they'll stop?

I went out with two guys in a row who had claimed they were 5'8" but I'm 5'6" and they were quite a bit shorter than me. Did they think I wasn't going to notice?

Be nice right off the bat and save the puns for a special treat, later.

Shabot 6000 said...

I'm not going to lie about my height. That wouldn't be fair. Besides, I'm already lying about my marital status ;-)

To the anon who got 934 messages from girls ... I'd be curious to read your profile. Feel free to post bits of it here, or send it to me privately. And send photos. Maybe you just look like Brad Pitt, and the essay part is irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I only met losers on Jdate. Which is why I cancelled my membership. But they keep sending me emails full of "matches." Matches my tuchus! I would rather share a banana with a chimpanzee.

Your puns are great. I would never turn someome away for those messages. We'd probably get along famously and amuse ourselves to death.

Anonymous said...

Props to you for actually responding to something in the profiles. Puns are fine by me, but I personally don't like overtly sexual puns/jokes from someone I don't if I were the girl you were writing to, you'd be better off saving those for e-mails after date #2.

I generally won't respond to someone whose essays are "under review" -- I'll wait until I can read the essays, then write back. Oh, and another thing that might be turning some people away: there's a girl in one of your pictures. I definitely recommend at least mentioning her in your "About me" essay -- or better yet, deleting that picture and replacing it with one that's just of you (or you and a male buddy).

Good luck! Smart, witty, and cute -- you're a rare commodity on JDate.

pdberger said...

Hey Benny Boy! I think you've got quite a bit of good advice here. I thought Esther's thoughts were pretty helpful.

If you need a "male buddy" to pose with in a photo, I'll be back in a few weeks.

When all's said and done though I think it can be summed up with two words.

Keep Trying.

Anonymous said...

I'm not on JDate because well, I'm holding out one more year if I can, but I thought that some of those lines were pretty funny. If people can't see the humor in them, then maybe they take themselves too seriously.

Of course, I'm a med student and we're known to be the biggest dorks around so perhaps I don't know what I'm talking about.

Oh, but don't lie in your profile. You should be appreciated for who you are, because it's all you - your height, your humor and your heart. You shouldn't have to put up a front to be noticed.

EMS said...

Ben- I implore you NOT to change anything about your emails to women on Jdate. I responded, we went out, we had a great time. Those that don't find humor, or are turned off by them, simply aren't for you. Those that do, like moi, have a better probability of "getting" your true essence. Wow- all this must really be helping the ego.

Anonymous said...

Ben or is it Will or Bill [an amalgam of both?]

Now I know what i've been doing wrong also - I have a horrible tendancy to make lots of very bad jokes and especially puns when e-dating [its been a while i admit - which is obviously the only reason why this comment is so totally unfunny - sorry - there goes my humourous credibility].
Anyhow ... i used to give extra points [in my mind] to those who got my jokes and could cap them. The secret is to write something which is "reply-able" not a conversation dead end - that your one liners - funny or not - sometimes were.

I used to deliberatly put some quirky aspect or jokes into my profile for people to respond to or pick up on or make a joke about, rather than just dull facts about my job, education, qualifications [yawn yawn]. If i did get too [horror of horrors] into the jdate type ethos and find myself repeating some hackneyed profile type cliches [heaven forefend pe pe pe] then at least i would warn people with a "Cliche alert note" or be self deprecating about the "horrible pressure to be witty, amusing and clever and desirable on a first email/profile" - obviously I wanted the other person to have no problem in exhibing those [yes I know - cliched alert - qualities].

Did i say that i'm still single ... i never had a long term relationship from any of those sites [but i did make some close friends]however the word play, puns, poems and one liners exchanged with some superb people [clicking on humour is not necessarily all that is needed for a successful relationship]and it was enjoyable.

If anyone else cares or dares to to send me your wit [on the theme of an ode to how many jelly beans can grecian urn maybe???]
I would love to be amused, bemused, even a tiny bit confused ... in the hope that it might lead to something more than an interchange of Wit(t). From
Gen. Stein

Anonymous said...

Have to weigh in on this one. Whether the puns are funny or not is irrelevant (personally I think they aren't and wouldnt respond - they do sound a bit like corny bad sit-com pick-up lines - imho). Its whether the person you send them to would find them funny. And that fact you should be able to tell from their profile. Ben, I dont think the women you sent them to would find them funny (for example the VP girl). Sorry. Look for a women who uses equally funny (or nonfunny) puns or jokes in their profiles. Or better yet, put them in your profile and let them find you.

As to lying - not a good idea. Most women will NOT be forgiving if they show up and you are a couple inches shorter. Only write to those women whose profiles place your height (or an inch taller) in their range of acceptibility. Or else deal with alot of rejection.

It also may be that women who appreciate your humor and who are also are willing to date a shorter guy may not be thin or young enough for you. If thats the case, you'll have to open your mind and parameters a bit.

Look, fact is that the majority of people on Jdate are ordinary and vanilla. Not extremely creative and edgy (go to or other sites for more creative types). So if youre going to be a bit different than the mainstream (and you seem to be), you are limiting your chances on Jdate. Personally, when I did jdate, I used a fairly "smart" profile, and pretty much only wrote women who I thought would get my profile and me. When I posted my profile, I got a whole bunch of emails, and all of them were from smart, funny cool chicks who were not mainstream by any account. Though to tell you the truth, most were not attractive (I hate to sound judgmental, but Im being open here). So I tapered my profile down, so it was less 'smart' and more typical, and I started getting alot of emails from all these women - but now, many were quite attractive, but totally generic and vanilla (which would be fine if all I was looking for was to F around, which I am past) so I hid my profile and dated only those I contacted.

Keep us posted.

Anonymous said...

I thought the lines were hysterical, but I'm definitely not your type.

Good luck!


Rebecca said...

As we can all see from the variety of comments and advice given here, everyone has their own preferences and opinions, so they probably won't be overly helpful when taken as a whole. But for what it's worth, here's mine: the puns are terrible. And they make me laugh (well, most of them). They DO make it sound like you're "trying too hard" when taken in isolation, but if incorporated into something larger, I'm sure they would be just fine.

Please do keep in mind that non-paying members (such as myself) cannot read the messages you send them. That's why it's so great to be subversive (a la Mr. Anonymous) and indicate an e-mail address/messenger ID in the profile itself. That way, people who can't/won't pay for the service can still contact you. Of course, most people aren't going to be smart enough to decode your little encrypted hints, but if you're looking to weed those people out anyway, you're good to go. I'm sorry that your essays aren't available -- if they were, I'd be better able to assess your style. But in any case, I'm with the last commenter: if you're looking for intelligent and funny, keep your essays smart and punchy. The women you wouldn't be interested anyway won't write you. So what? It's not about big numbers. It's about finding a match. You only need one, if she's the right one. I am sorry to hear that the women online are just as bland as I believe the men to be, but I guess it's inevitable that the online dating world should match the "real" world. Don't give up, and don't compromise your values. You may want to compromise a bit on a woman's appearance if you're seriously looking for someone. Goodness knows we women have to make allowances for men all the time! And that's okay.

Regarding the height thing, BRAVO! Yes, it's true that many women may end up filtering you out of their searches, but that says nothing about the women you write to. And no, women are NOT forgiving about deception. Thank you for being honest -- it's so, so refreshing to think that there's at least one honest guy out there!

Judith said...

Pay no attention to those stuffy girls! If you sent me any of those cute emails I would date you!

And I love short guys - I'm only 5 ft tall, and I hate having to crane my neck when I'm talking to someone.

Why are all the cute short funny guys young enough to be my son? Do you have any (very) older brothers?

(PS came here from Canonist)

Judith said...

"fact is that the majority of people on Jdate are ordinary and vanilla. Not extremely creative and edgy (go to or other sites for more creative types)."

Very true. But on Nerve you can't say you're a practicing Jew or no one will write you. You can be an atheist or a Buddhist or "spiritual" but God forbid you should practice a mainstream religion. And you have to be left-wing too.

Edgy nervy creative people can be very conventional in their own way . . .

Anonymous said...

Ben you do a good cartoon and are probably amusing but the emails are dooming you to failure. Write like you want to meet the girl not like youre pitching a sitcom. The lines are not particularly funny but the real problem is that they clearly don't work. Do yourself a favor and play it straight until you at least talk in real life.

KleoPatra said...

Happy Hanukkah, Ben Baruch, from a big fan of yours on the West Coast.

I had a few dates with men who wrote me on JDate, but after 3 months as a member, I tired of the whole spiel.

(I eventually hooked up with a real mensch, not from JDate.)

Too bad you're not in SoCal, Ben Baruch!


Hope you have LOVEly, LOVE-filled 2006. May you find your menschette soon!

Anonymous said...

See, this --

In response to your essay, I must confess: I am not a reader. It's not that I don't like to read ... I CAN'T read! I never learned how. Sure, I can write, but I can never go back and read what I've written to make corrections. (You may be asking, how did I read your letter? Easy: Helper monkey)

-- had me in tears. You're bloody funny. And cute. Rock on.

Anonymous said...

I am not Jdating (yet), but I did take a look and saw the "VP with looks" you mentioned... I think I am in love. She deserves a better line than the one you sent her.

Anonymous said...

yes. yes. yes! lol :-) great post.

Picking up Women said...

Once again returned to the clutches of that cursed online dating service.