If Loving eBay Smackdowns Is Wrong, I Don’t Want to be Right

I originally published this on Cowbird, and just felt like reviving it here.

At some point in the last couple of months, I made the unconscious decision to Tighten Shit Up. I’m just plain sick and tired of some things in my life, so I’ve been making moves to clean things up and make choices based on what I want, not what I’m supposed to do or feel some irrational obligation to do.

As part of this process, I’ve been going through things that I’ve hung onto simply for the sake of hanging on to them, evaluating their place in my life and putting them into one of two camps: Keep or Pitch.

A significant piece of this is the stamp collection. I couldn’t care less about postage stamps, aside from the few that feature something I really like, such as animals or pop culture icons. My father was the one who liked stamps, and so he bought them for me even though he knew I didn’t care – I think I get some of my self-defeating behaviors from him. Weeding through these tangible memories of my father breaking my chops on birthdays and Christmas, I put several sheets into the Keep pile, with the intention of eventually framing them. For the rest, I decided to swim in the waters of eBay.

I’ve purchased a few items from eBay in the past, but had not sold anything until now. People, I never knew what I was missing because it turns out that the waters of eBay are swimming with sharks, and my stamps are Grade A chum.

old cigar boxes on a dusty cellar shelf

eBay: Where Crap Becomes Catnip

Along with not caring about stamps comes the fact that I don’t know shit about their value. I based my starting and “Buy Now” prices based on quick and superficial Google searches because I just want them gone and to have a little extra loot. I was pleasantly surprised when the Native American Dances sheet sold for my “Buy Now” price. Intrigued, I downloaded the app and allowed it to send me push notifications.

Did you know that people can stalk the items you list? It’s totally true, but instead of calling it by its true name, eBay calls it “watching.” Stamp aficionados are watching my shit like it’s their job. And don’t think that I don’t know what they’re doing. They’re lying in wait, hoping that nobody will bid, so that in the 11th hour they can score Jazz Greats at the bare minimum. Fuck. That. Shit.

Just yesterday, Flowers and Fruits had a couple of watchers (they WISH they were as cool as Gilles, amirite, Buffy fans?). Today, one of them made a move, like a snapping turtle going after a minnow. This poor sod basically fired across the bow. Bidder 2 couldn’t take it and came out of the shadows with a bid $1 higher. A DOLLAR, PEOPLE. That’s huge in eBay stamp auction terms. Next thing I know, Bidder 3 emerges to break 1 and 2’s balls by upping the ante by 25 cents (3 clearly doesn’t want it badly enough).

I can’t wait to see what comes next, and not just because it’s more money in my pocket.

These bitches have bidding strategies. Over FLOWERS AND FRUITS. It’s not even that valuable! These keyboard jockeys just want to win, and they will do whatever they must in order to aggravate their competitors and score the floral-fruity prize.

I love it. It’s better than television. It’s nerd Hunger Games in real time and with less teen-on-teen homicide.

I checked my app after I put down Fast Company and before I turned out the lights last night. True story. I can hardly wait to see how this plays out. I wonder if I may be sick.

But do you know what I’m really dying to see? I have an 18-inch Gibson Girl doll on there. She has four watchers and no bids. That shit is going to heat up in the last 24 hours of her auction. I may have to make popcorn and take time off from work in order to watch World War Gibson go down. Is this what bloodlust is like? I want this wordless battle of wills measured in 10-cent increments to blow up. I see this whole online auction through a Michael Bay lens – so many explosions.

This is not good, but I don’t care. I can’t wait to get into the attic on Saturday so I can find more stuff to auction. The virtual bloodletting is so worth the time.

I Think I’ll Stick with Cats, Thanks

This one is going out to the men of online dating. I’m sure that there are women who would benefit by taking these observations to heart, but for now I’m going to stick with my observations on those with the XY chromosomes.

Now, please understand that I’m not being an asshole – these observations are about men who have reached out to me, supposedly after drinking in the wit and vitality glowing in my profile like the sun itself.

In other words, these dipshits asked for it.

Profile Photos

If you have friends, enlist them in both taking and choosing profile photos. If they care about you, they will help you avoid the following profile picture mistakes:

  • Amish Beard Showcase: People with this kind of facial hair generally eschew technology, so I have no choice but to infer that you are either a mountain man or think that your copious, unkempt, crumb- and dip-laced facial hair makes you desirable to a woman with a mainstream office job and a decent Goodreads list. I may be wrong, but I’m not nearly as wrong as you are, Kaczynski.
  • Ted Bundy’s Playbook: The only thing worse that serial-killer handwriting is serial-killer eyes. (Or actually being a serial killer.) STOP STARING LIFELESSLY. It’s fucking creepy, and if you “wink” at me again, I’m contacting the authorities and my next-of-kin.
  • I Know You Love Your Kids, But This Is Creepy: Your young children can’t give informed consent for you to use their images on an adult site in order to manipulate a woman into a date; if you write that you are a good father and enjoy spending time with your children, I will believe you. Your photos in the bar with your adult son, or of you with your adult daughter in formal wear with a plunging neckline may be even more disturbing. Stick with photos of you and snapshots of your life – don’t live vicariously through kid pix.
  • The Time Warp: Hey, 52-year old fellow, I can tell that your pictures are from 1983 (the Night Ranger shirt and feathered hair are dead giveaways). Stop this shit right now because I’m not an idiot.
  • Photo Booth: I know Photo Booth is fun. If you must use it, Fish Eye is the only acceptable effect. Twirl, Squeeze, Stretch, and Bulge (it doesn’t do what you think it does) are unacceptable and not conducive to your goals.
Distorted Photo Booth picture of a man with his mouth open, holding up his hand.

Yes, someone chose this as his profile.

  • Bathroom Selfies: If you need me to tell you why these are a million ways of wrong, then you should probably buy a yurt and park it next to a nice sand dune in the Sahara, because you really aren’t fit for human companionship. I’m sorry, and I hope that you like cacti.
A man holding his iPhone in front of him, taking a selfie in a bathroom mirror.

Yes, he thought this was a good idea.

  • ALL THE PIXELS: If your photos leave you image less defined than a Minecraft character, it’s time to upgrade your phone to one with a better camera.
Heavily-pixellated photo of a man's head and shoulders.

SHOW ALL THE PIXELS!

Profile Details

  • Playa Hate: If there is a woman to whom you are not biologically related in your photos, you’re a dick, and I must assume that you’re probably compensating for any number of emotional and/or physical shortcomings.
  • Inability to Master Seventh-Grade English: The differences between “you’re” and “your” are important. Don’t get me started on “their,” “there,” and “they’re.” Mastering these homonyms is not difficult, and your inability to do so tells me that you’re intellectually lazy.
  • Get a Grip: This may be the harshest of my harshes, so prepare. If you take no pride in your appearance and have only an inflated sense of self and feelings of entitlement, you do NOT have the right to specify parameters for attractiveness in a woman. Remember that Shrek’s princess was an ogre, and if you’re an asshole, you’re going to attract assholes. If you have an irrationally inflated ego, an arrogant personality, and – frankly – are not physically appealing, you need to not shame women. You need to address your ego and arrogance with a therapist, then maybe a self-respecting woman will give you the time of day.
  • Making Sure We Know Where We Stand: We’re not dumb, and we actually have an expectation that your children will take priority over us, especially since we’re complete strangers. When you specifically state that you will only have a couple of days per month to devote to dating, it might be time to re-evaluate your investment in a dating site. Don’t get me wrong: we appreciate that you work hard, have extracurricular activities, and are an involved father. However, telling us that you want a slim, attractive, old-fashioned woman, and then immediately stating that you have approximately 8 hours a month that you can carve out for your “queen,” you defeat your purpose. Or at least I think you defeat your purpose – you’re giving some seriously mixed messages and might want to hire a writer to iron out your plot holes.
Profile of man requiring "no slobs."

Burn your sweatpants if you want to land this one, ladies.

  • Verbiage Matters: If you use the word “lonely” in your username or profile, I am going to bypass you because I’d hate to get in the way of the hobbies I imagine you have, such as thimble collecting or small-vertibrate taxidermy. WORDS MATTER, JACKASS.
  • Reading Comprehension Matters More: A cursory glimpse at my profile will reveal that I love animals. Guys – if your idea of a good time is killing animals, we are not going to mesh, so please move along. These details matter.

Communication

  • Complete Thoughts/Sentences: The contents of your email should consist of more than one syllable. “Hi” and “Hey” are generally not enticing or impressive unless you’re an Australopithecus.
  • Reading Comprehension Skills: Do you know what human beings enjoy? Being recognized. Because of this, show the person you’re messaging that you have actually read her profile, and SPECIFICALLY REFER TO SAID PROFILE. Do not reiterate things you’ve already outlined in your own profile, because frankly, I don’t care about you at this point. I care about why I might want to spend time with you. Real-World Example: One man messaged me, repeating words he’d already vomited into his own profile, and I took advantage of the handy-dandy “Not Interested” button. This dude followed up and asked me what turned me off, and I told him (nicely…don’t laugh, I really was kind). He responded by begging me – a perfect stranger – to give him a chance because he is a “fine wine connoisseur” and loves dogs, too. For those of you unfamiliar with match.com, this is the exact language they use when trying to partner you up with these dudes.

I know the above sounds very harsh, but just put yourself in my place. I had to deal with all of this and not totally and completely lose my shit and destroy these poor souls. I am only trying to help you…learn from these men’s fails, gents. Learn from these men’s fails.

(Mis) Adventures in Dating

As tends to happen as we grow older, my friends are all paired off. Every last one of those assholes. This makes it very difficult for me to meet single men, as couples are the last bastion of acceptable segregation. My friend K had great luck on match.com, meeting the wonderful man who became her husband and father of her daughter after a relatively short time on the site, so I figured I’d give it a try.

I also made a rule for myself: that I wouldn’t be as brutal in my culling as usual. I’d shrug off poor grammar and spelling, check any concerns about ex-wives/baby mamas at the door, and ignore my definition of attractive.

Following is a sample of my results:

  • Turkish businessman from Syracuse: Not very attractive, but I thought that I’d let it go, so I responded to his message. We ended up meeting at Turning Stone Casino (which I really don’t care for, but was determined to follow my “ease up on the brutality rule). Had a drink, got some dinner, and chatted. At NO POINT in any communication – written, verbal, or physical (definitely not physical – unless a handshake can be considered a come-on) did I express an interest in going home with him, but did that stop him from asking? It did not, in case you didn’t realize that was rhetorical. I just looked at him, slack-jawed, and then managed, “I have to go take my dogs out now.” And that was the end of that.
  • Vanilla A, machinist at a gun factory. Nice guy, not super concerned with proofreading his profile, and makes agents of death, but whatever – don’t forget The Rule. Divorced, three kids. Normally, that would be a lot of baggage, but like a jackass, I followed my own temporary rule and let it go. Turns out that three kids, two ex-wives, and so much child support that he works 50 hours a week and brings home less than $15 in his paycheck and had to move back in with his parents is a lot of fucking baggage. He’s a talker, and by talker I mean he talks and talks, but doesn’t have a conversation. He legitimately did not ask me one question about myself or my life. Ever. I literally put in writing the reasons that this was not going to work so there would be no misunderstanding. He still texts me…he’s like a dumb dog that gets beaten every time it gets on the furniture, yet still thinks he can sneak onto the couch.
  • Jethro K also works at the afore-mentioned gun manufacturer because FUCK MY LIFE. We texted and talked on the phone. He sent a picture of his daughter, who I knew from somewhere. Turns out, he’s one of a friend’s wife’s ex-husbands because OF COURSE HE IS. (Yes, one of her ex-husbands, and she’s younger than I am, so I tell myself that at least I don’t have multiple ex-husbands/baby daddies…but I digress.) At this point, that piece-of-shit, worst-fucking-idea-I-have-ever-had-in-my-lousy-life rule is still in place. We decided to meet at a casual pub for a beer. I’m well aware that this particular pub isn’t fancy, but it’s far from a dive, so I still dressed to hide my flaws, curled my hair and applied fresh makeup. This jamoke rolls in, talking to my friend who is married to his ex, wearing a Gun Company t-shirt, and untucked, unbuttoned, wrinkled, possibly dirty flannel shit over said t-shirt, and a Gun Company baseball cap, which was at no point removed. Let me tell you, he was in a mood after having a rough day (never mind that I offered to reschedule more than once because he’d had a shite day), which is always a pleasure to entertain…and by “always,” I mean “never.” He opened with, “I was just on the phone with the current husband, and he didn’t have anything bad to say about you,” thinking he was funny. It was a lie, and I wasn’t amused. Additionally, he’d gained probably a good 25-30 pounds since he took the pictures he used in his profile, which wasn’t a big deal until he asked me if he looked like his pictures. “No, you don’t look like your pictures,” I replied because he did not deserve the comfort of a lie. Then Flannel McShootsalot asks if that’s good, bad, or different. I just told him “different,” because we all have fluctuations and I didn’t want to shame him (note to self: that was a missed opportunity…read on and you’ll understand). A short while later, he proceeds to tell me how he went out with a woman who’d put on weight that wasn’t reflected in her photos, and he wanted to turn and run. O, RLY? So, he talks and talks and talks, and then stops, looks at me and tells me to talk. The fuck? Really? Okay…I struggle to find something to talk about, and finally land on the show Archer – thank god for H. Jon Benjamin. He made me feel completely awkward for not being able to pull a conversation out of my ass on demand. The dude dressed like he just got off a plow managed to make me feel awkward and inadequate. DUNZO.

Lessons learned:

  • There are reasons that I am the way I am. I need to remember that before making stupid rules about being nice, giving people chances, and all of that happy horseshit.
  • Kand her dear husband are likely the exceptions, not the rule. Those happy bastards.
Bottle of "So This Happened" wine with lit candle.

Sometimes all you can say is, “So this happened…”