The year is 2143, and inside a soon-to-be repossessed cave following the inevitable nuclear holocaust, a strangely ageless Al Likilla explains to a group of cute but mutated children how human mating rituals have changed over the past 137 years… Settle down now kiddies and gather round. That’s it. Yes Bennifer, I can see you’re on fire. Let’s put that out shall we? Now, can anyone tell me what today’s lesson was going to be about? Well, you may find this hard to believe, but at the start of the last century there were no telepathic male-female links or psychically arranged marriages. Instead we had something called ‘the internet’. You might well ask Geldof! Imagine an interlinked set of virtual personalities, a kind of forum where even the ugliest and most socially inept humanoids could hide behind a groovy alter ego in the hope of getting his or her end away. No sniggering at the back there children. Nookie isn’t a laughing matter. Particularly these days, with your bits likely to drop off halfway through due to radiation poisoning. Back in 2006 the big fad was so-called ‘social networking’ sites. In those days kids like you would log onto web pages hosted by Bebo, My Space or Shagpal.com to chat, share music, write an online diary we called a ‘blog’, or spend a few hours browsing the profiles of glamour models clad only in g-strings. Yet these sites weren’t just for bored adolescents. Across the world, in countries now destroyed by atomic fire, lonely individuals, many of them barely literate, would use these networks to hunt out a mate. They were trying to find a member of the opposite sex in their favoured social or economic group, at which point they would send an on-spec email declaring their feelings, sometimes even going so far as to propose, suggesting marriage to someone they’d never previously contacted. Someone who might not actually be real. Yes Bennifer, I know that sounds implausible, but as these examples I saved from the time will illustrate, there were lots of lost and desperate people out there in 2006, many of them struggling with both a sense of social inadequacy and the English language.
First up we have the following missive, which was sent to a British lady by ‘Stefan’.
"Hello dear - nice to meet you :-)
I have just seen your ad (It’s not an ad Stefan. She’s not trying to sell herself. And if she were, it wouldn’t be to you.) and think:
Wow, what a woman! You are very special but also charming woman! (I wonder if he knows how few girls are flattered by being called ‘woman’?) I like you very much, even I know you not yet; your Profile is just perfect!! (And yet he doesn’t specify why. What sets this profile apart from the millions of others out there? The fact that he happened upon it first?)
My name is Stefan and I was born 2nd July 1966. I am 177cm and 72 kg in good shape. (That’s VERY specific
isn’t it? I mean, who gives their height in centimetres during an introduction? Clearly some German men do.
Maybe they think metric is a turn on.) I work as a business consultant for companies and I am part-time
professor for informatics. (My dictionary lists this as: ‘The science of processing data for storage and retrieval’.
Are you moist yet?) I like my job very much and have good success. I also have many friends and hobbies
(cinema, theater, ballet, dancing, travelling) and I make a lot of sport. (Yes Stefan, it’s good to specify
you ‘make a lot of sport’. I invented a sport once myself - underwater greyhound racing. It could have been
a nice little earner if the RSPCA hadn’t stuck their noses in.) I have nice family and good relationship to my
parents. All in all I have very good and happy life. I live in Bern.
The only thing I am missing is a partner on my side and I prefer good culture, because it's more romantic and warmer. (So what is this ‘good culture’ of which you speak Stefan? Is it the opposite of ‘bad culture’; stuff like Nazism or Chris Moyles? That would be less romantic, I agree.) I hope you will write me soon my far away Princesse. I can say I am goodlooking and a real gentleman with a good sense of humor and I amromantic and tender. I was never married and have no children and I am single of course. (Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m smelling a rat at this point. Stefan sounds too good to be true. I suspect some kind of personality disorder here.) I like children and want a happy family! (Never married and ‘likes children’ eh? My concern grows…) I wish you good luck and all the best.
I am waiting for you my Princesse....
Pls respond asap - don't think I am crazy, (Oh dear, there’s the clincher. Methinks Stefan doth protest too much.) I just wrote what I feel in this moment!
ps: ich kann dir auch auf deutsch schreiben :-)" (I’ve looked this up and it translates as: “Not really, I was only joking.”)
Yes class, it is difficult to believe someone would compose such a message to a complete stranger, imagining, even for a moment, said stranger might instantly move to Germany and start a family with him. But that’s my point. This was a strange time in our history, as the next message shows. Said email was sent to myself by a lady listed on her profile as twenty-five years old and operating under the name ‘Babecats’:
"Hello dear, (Bit familiar that, not sure I like it.)
how are u doing guess fine (Thanks for answering me, that saved some time.) my name is Hawa am 26yrs old, am living here in jersey uk, am doing my nuring (I vowed never to get involved with another nure. Not after some nasty experiences in the past. Sorry.) and also working at the same time here but am from Sierra leone , i have been in jersey here for three yrs now... (And, my God, don’t you just speak the language like a native?) i read ur profile and see ur nice picture i most tell u that i like ur look , and if u dont minfd i iwll like to be ur friend and more.. (Ah, the ever-elliptical fade out. What would this ‘more’ be exactly? Wife? Stalker? Home help? I’m on
loking to read ur mail."
Yes Geldof, you’re correct. She’s going to be ‘loking’ for a long time. She might still be ‘loking’ 137 years on for all I know. The next missive I have is from someone claiming to be royalty and was sent to an unwitting English girl:
"hello pretty lady i am prince stanley from nigeria based in dakar the capital city of senegal i new registered this site looking for a good lady to be my freind.i love swimming,meeting freinds,tyravelling,musical firlms like (R&B) (Presumably this means the likes of ‘The Bodyguard’ and Mariah Carey’s ‘Glitter’.) simple and neat dressing. (Well ‘neat dressing’ IS very important in a modern husband.) i will be happy if i can get you as freind and promise to be sincer to you and cearing too. (And ‘cearing’
[email protected] (There are some serious delusions of grandeur going on here.) i will be looking
forward to hear from you and if possible you can add me to your yahoo massager (Yahoo do a MASSAGER?!
They’ve really got a finger in every pie don’t they? Whatever next; the ‘Yahoo Walk-In Bath’?) so that we can
chat there and know more about our selves.bye.
I agree with you class, I’m not convinced that ‘Prince Stanley’ is bona fide royalty. For one thing, the royals of most countries never have this much trouble getting a date. And surely he’d have an equerry to proof-read his emails before sending them out? But that’s nothing compared to our next example, sent in response to a technical query by an individual or individuals who live in Minnesota, are twenty-three, and go by the profile name of ‘Couples Gone Weed’….
"yes u can hooke up a etehrnet cord 2 tvio i got ivo i know i aint odne but u have 2 buy an extar accseroy 2 do it im in moorheda mn thos by fargo nd i got dvd brung abilty from pc and from cable tv?? so i dunno yeha id be so happy i know the dvd seaon wont come out for at least a yr i dont wanna wait that long lol peace"
Yes class, my brain crashed during that one too. DON’T DO DRUGS! I’m surprised these people ever managed to hook their PC up without getting distracted and turning it into a bong.
Staying in America, the following was sent by a thirty-year old U.S. male called Henry:
oh my goddness (Let’s not bring religion into this Henry, you’ll only evoke Sodom and Gomorrah.) i never knew a tpye of sexy elegant nice preety (Is it just me, or does spelling ‘pretty’ like this bring about visions of creatures chained up in cellars?) lady like u can still be in this world i mean it, u so beautiful (U so beautiful, me so scared.) i have to take a deep breth b4 saying this (That’s probably because you don’t understand the concept of the full stop.) way u are pretty i will like to meet u coz are like the woman of my dream (Particularly that recurring one Henry has, the one where he goes to high school with no clothes on and there’s some chick laughing at him.) am henry mcgreegy jackson frm nj in allway city i wil like us to chat to tell u the kind gift God as giving u (Aw heck, I smell fundamentalism. That ‘gift’ God’s giving you after all this lustful talk – is it purple and filled with holy jizz by any chance Henry?) okay u can meet me at [email protected] (You have GOT to love that email address. It includes a cast-iron guarantee for one thing…) so we can chat bye hope to hear frm u soon ...........bye"
And… take a deep breath. I agree with you Bennifer, you’d think someone based in the United States would have a slightly better grasp of our language than Henry. But rest assured, none of the spelling or syntax of these messages has been tampered with or exaggerated in any way. It doesn’t need to be.
Finally, because the post-nuclear sun is setting, and I’m beginning to wish I hadn’t survived that last winter, I give you - Nikos!
"my name is Nikos... am 41 SINGLE.....
i work for cyprus airways and i do visit london very often.......
i would love to make friends for going out to diner....coffee...long chats ..see places....hung out.......
you really have an interesting profile.....
apart from the fact that you r gorgeous (Does Nikos, and indeed most of them, really think we can’t tell he’s
written a standard email – badly - then sent it out to numerous unlucky gals without personalising the message
in any way? “You have a really interesting profile.” Oh really? Well how come you don’t cite any of its specifics
then? D minus for effort I’m afraid Nikos.)
do get in touch if you feel like.... (…sharing awkward moments with a fortysomething Cypriot air steward.)
i am sure that making friends, never harmed anyone"
Tell that to the girls who made Ted Bundy’s acquaintance. Right, that’s it. Lesson over. Go and take your anti-rad pills. Class dismissed.