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I have a friend who has a friend — and who doesn't? — who is big into online dating. "You should try it!" said Paige, my first-tier friend, probably because she thought that was what I'd like to hear. To paraphrase Mark Twain, that is what friends do. Anyone will tell you what you don't want to hear.

Paige has been paired for some time, and I tend not to take dating advice from members of a long-time couple. It's like asking a mummy what kind of laptop to buy. They haven't been out there in so long that their ideas, while well-intended, are suspect. So, I was ready to shelve the Internet dating advice until she said, "The first thing you do is write an online profile."

"How long can it be?" I asked and began composing aloud my description of a great date. Thirty minutes later, Paige told me that the profile is supposed to be not much more than a brief paragraph. Then she said, "If I read what you've written, I'd think, "Who is this bitch? I must meet her.'"

And so, because I can, what follows is my idea of how I'd seek a date online, which is mainly just another attempt at weeding, only via keyboard. Consider mine to be the Norman Mailer version of a normal profile, inclusive of many specifics I'm sure web daters would like to list, but cannot.

Hostage situation

The following is a list of my demands. Because I have been single for awhile, I am used to my demands not being met. But please try to meet some of them, or at least try not to be a homeless guy answering this on your free hotmail account at the library.

Age. You should have no personal memories of World War II. Conversely, you should be old enough to refer frequently to CDs as "albums."

Personal appearance. You should not be able to stop traffic, either due to your film-star good looks or your resemblance to Gollum in "The Lord of the Rings." You should be bigger than anyone on the U.S. women's figure-skating team but smaller than a vintage VW Beetle.

Home. Nothing should be growing in your bathtub that I can pick up and throw at you. And get rid of that futon. Pets are OK, but none of what my friend Paige calls "drug-dealer pets," i.e. snakes, rodents, tarantulas, anything found in the home of someone you used to buy pot from in college.

Lifestyle. You should have stopped buying illegal drugs in college. Pot should be legal but it's not, and if you get arrested for it, I will not bail you out of jail. I'll call your boss and invite him or her to do it. Drinking, however, is encouraged and probably necessary.

Athletics. If you watch sports, you should participate in one, or at least work out — or at least get up. Exercise is good for the mind and body. But no health nuts. If you ever try to tell me that a wheat-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, egg-free, fat-free cake is good, or is even food, I swear to God I'll stand on your head.

Travel. You should have a passport and like to travel, but nowhere stupid, like the woods. That said, you should think it's a romantic idea to hit the road in an Airstream and tour America for a year. This vehicle should be an option and not a place you live in now because you're broke and lazy.

Employment. Speaking of lazy, you should have a fucking job. It should pay more than my job but not be as interesting, as that way I get to talk more. Actually, I can talk no matter what, so it should be interesting. Ambition is attractive if it's based on passion and not money. Still, would it kill you to have a little money?

Smarts. You should have an interest in current events and be able to talk a little bit about a lot of things, not talk a lot about one thing, like Klingon battleships, 'Nam, the Lakers, the prime rate, or your theory that aliens are in cahoots with Michael Eisner, the Saudis and the Pope to run the World Bank.

You should never in your life have said any of these things: "Do you want to hear my poem?" "George W. is a brilliant man." "I'd like to dedicate this award to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ." "I got Buffett tickets."

Bargaining power

As for me, I have all these qualities. But there is one thing I don't have that you should, and that's a working set of male genitalia. I would be willing to negotiate on many of these points if you own, or aspire to own, a monkey.

This was all exquisite therapy and I encourage other singletons to do it. But reminding myself of my own standards is as far as I'm going with the online dating club.

"Yeah," Paige agreed. "It seems too much like ice fishing. Don't you want to know what you're fishing for?" So maybe the couple did give good advice, after all.

Liz Langley writes for Orlando Weekly. E-mail [email protected]
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