Okay, kiddies. There is a way to do things, and there is a way not to do things.

On a first date:

Do compliment the other person if you think they look nice.

Don’t arrive late.

Do bring your first date to somewhere unique, preferably where you both have an excellent opportunity to get to know one another’s sassy little personalities with a pretty backdrop.

Don’t, oh…beseech your first date to let you photograph the two of you together so you can win money once you conceive your first child. Mmmkay? It’s in the first chapter of the Creepy Textbook.

See, as you might have heard, Groupon is proposing a new dating service.

Okay. Hmm. Well, I love Groupon–I think their deals rock face, and I enjoy that the company had a spine and rejected Google buying them out, even though I’m sure they were offered absolutely immoral heaps of green. And dating services themselves are…well, not my brand of whiskey, although it bears noting that I do maintain an online dating profile that I visit from time to time. Mostly for the entertainment; I liken it to visiting the zoo a few times a year. Not that I’m dating furries. Or bears. Or cougars. All right, it wasn’t that complex of a metaphor. I digress.

But somehow in combining these two things (deals and dating), Groupon has managed to stir up a big old cocktail of awkward, impersonal, unnatural, and disturbing propositions and make it the concept for a dating site. And more personally disturbing to me—an encouragement to spawn and make Groupon babies.

For real, though. I thought it was a joke at first, since they have such a great sense of humor over there in the Groupoffice. (I assume they do that with all their words.) But, no. They are literally encouraging you to make Groupon babies. They are giving out 2 scholarships a year to couples who can show photographic evidence that their baby was the product of a couple who went out on their first date using Groupon. Groupon spawn. Grouspawn.

(My assumption—and bear with me—is that Groupon’s motivation is creating a terrifying Groupon army that will inevitably snatch up our prized American traditions and culture, ruthlessly homogenizing our youth into an infestation of date-worthy creatures who are only interested in locating suitable mates by their willingness to bond over coupons. Then all our teenagers and twenty/thirty-somethings start breeding lovelessly for cash prizes, terrorizing cities by irritably demanding half-priced fares from only the trendiest establishments. Aggghhhhh! Your fears have been realized, Huxley–It’s the Brave Frugal World!)

Okay. Sometimes I get perhaps too excited. Possibly I’m a little low on blood sugar. Must seek out a lunch of some sort… I have a Groupon in my purse for—aggghhh!  *drops the Groupon and stares in horror*

But seriously, how not-okay is that for a first date? I want you to imagine yourself getting ready to go out with someone you’ve never been out with before. Let’s assume you barely know them, if at all. Your beau arrives for your very first evening together. It’s getting-to-know-you-time. You fish around somewhat for a conversation topic with common ground, he or she takes you out to a dinner they’ve bought a coupon for (possibly ever so slightly tacky on a first date, even for someone thrifty like me, but whatever). And then, once you sit down … they take a picture of the two of you, explaining that it’s just in case you breed? I’d … I mean … I’d just like to be a fly on the wall for that conversation.

You know? Like, eww. Go home, stalker.

Hell, I once didn’t go out on a second date with a guy simply because he brought me a bouquet of store-bought flowers on the first date. Yeah, already way too committed. Let’s keep this light, Prince Charming. Easy there on the crazy-grand romantic gestures, Endless Love.

So I can’t even fathom a relative stranger taking me out with the wink-wink, nudge-nudge anticipation that I’ll be the future mother of his child so that he can win $60,000. I’m sorry. Do what, now?

See, that just sucks the romance right out for me—dating for procreation and cash prizes. I mean, where’s the broken condom strewn haphazardly across a heated bed, post-one-night-stand? Where’s the teary-eyed, secretive peeing on a stick in the ladies’ stall at work? Where’s the shotgun wedding? All wrong! Romance is dead.

[Joke. Yeesh… I was making a point… *tugs at necktie* Someone warm this room up for me. No respect. No respect at all.]

Again, I love and use Groupon, and I myself would like to sire progeny with the best of them some day. But Groupon here has hit a ball to a very weird and undeniable place in our culture’s… outfield. Shut up. That worked, and you know it.

So when did dating become Gattaca? Don’t two crazy kids just meet and hit it off anymore? Just check out the web site for Groupon’s dating service—Grouspawn. There’s a link on the page: “Want a Groupon baby? Visit our dating service.”

Gah! *recoils, hisses* Don’t hit the button! (I suspect it’s a legal agreement to be frugally inseminated.)


You don’t join a dating service to have a baby. You join a dating service to find a mate. And then kids can come later. Want a Groupon baby? It should link to an adoption site.

Furthermore, in a coupon-inspired dating service where the outcome is to have a coupon kid, my imagination assumes you get matched up by how cheap you are, and then you’re given a (very reasonably priced) hotel room for the evening. (In my case, I’d be passing on the gift of life with some broke-ass person who has no true working concept of money, if they were to be my equal.) Go nuts, kids.  Have fun with all the fertilization! Hey, why need a first date be fruitless? Why wait and see whether it pans out enough in the long run to have a Groupon baby? Get knocked up now, save money later! It’s like an ounce of prevention…

So, just. Yeah. NO to all of this. No to you, if you even briefly entertained the thought of proposing Grouspawn to a first date of yours. You’re better off asking him or her over dinner conversation whether they could please scratch your hard-to-reach psoriasis for you than using any progeny-directed line Groupon will feed you here. Bad Groupon! Bad! What are you thinking? Go sit in the corner. Sit in it. Sit.

Not to mention, is it just me, or does “Grouspawn” look too close to “Groupspawn,” which would be a slightly more alien-movie way of saying “the tragic result of a group sexual endeavor”? Because that’s how I read it for the first 5 minutes. Who picks these names?? If someone I barely knew asked whether I wanted to engage in a Grouspawn with them, I’d shoot their eyes full of pepper spray and blow my emergency rape whistle after having groin-punted them into another room.

So, to recap, no. No, no, no.

No. Groupon—no.

No.

Original Chicago Tribune article on Grouspawn.

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Pop Star Dating Service

March 18, 2010

at your service.

Excellent quality. This is a real photo, ladies and gentlemen, taken only a few years before the King of Pop’s untimely death. True story. Don’t bother looking it up.

I was driving on my way to the train this morning, when The Girl Is Mine by Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney came on the radio. Remember that one?

All right, fine, no radio station in its right mind plays The Girl Is Mine; I actively chose to listen to it on my Michael Jackson History cd. Jeez. Cut me a break, yeah? So, I like music I can happily snap to in the wee hours of morning. I do. And you do, too.

But I was really listening to the song this time, and listening to the lyrics finally as an adult (Thriller came out a year before I was born, actually). And this girl they’re passively fighting over like two very lame things—I mean, what a bitch. Yeah, seriously. She’s all telling Paul he’s her forever lover (which, really, he needs to just chill about because it’s not like he doesn’t have Linda waiting at some vegetarian restaurant for him somewhere anyway) and telling Michael—whom I think we can all agree was a very confused man already—that after loving him she couldn’t love another. Can you say mixed signals? Honestly. Ditch the girl. She’s clearly a liar.

I suggest you bark up another tree, gentlemen. Hey, how’s about Olivia Newton John? I mean, she would be hopelessly devoted to you. I see some real potential there. Or, you know what—maybe Bonnie Tyler, who needs someone to warm her up a bit after her heart was totally eclipsed. Which hurts, let me tell you. She’s probably all too happy for a rebound. And that charming girl Rhianna will even let you stand under her umbrella. Ella. Ella. And hey, my girl Regina Spektor actually has a song called Fidelity. That’s a step in a more positive direction, if that’s what you’re looking for (which I assume is the case, since you clearly state you both cannot have her, that it’s one or the other—I DARE YOU TO NOT BE BOPPING ALONG TO THIS SONG NOW).

Or…hmm…who else? Yvonne Elliman, for instance, doesn’t want anyone at all if she can’t have you. How’s that for commitment? Commitment whether you’re willing or not, fellas. Damn.

And Kylie Minogue is so obsessed with you, she can’t get you out of her head, so that’s something. But then…yeah, you know what? That sounds a little clingy there. Nevermind. That’s all you need—her pulling an Australian Glenn Close on you, and then your rabbit’s dead, and it’s a big messy ordeal; no. Nevermind, nevermind, nevermind.

Okay, so, Paula Abdul is forever your girl. If you like your girl sloshy, sloppy drunk and winking at you at odd moments. Or if you’re looking for a more maintenance-free partner, Whitney Houston will just be your baby tonight. Your baby, nonetheless. You gotta respect that.

You’re going to want to steer clear of the man-eaters Daryll Hall and John Oates were dating. You’d just run into the same problem. Avoid Carly Simon, who is on to you and will call you out on all your vain bullshit (and rightly so), and that would just be embarrassing, considering the egos on both of you. And if you’re looking for a girl who really only has eyes for you, also probably avoid more sexually empowered women like Madonna, who would only end up showing you the difference between being like a virgin and being an actual virgin. Mmhmm, I’m like a virgin too, only with a much more active sex life… *high five* *high five*

Ooo, no wait—better idea. One of you can date Brandy and one can date Monica. Then they can stop fighting over the boy who’s jerking them around, and you four can collectively heal your intimacy issues together.

Or, failing that, I hear the chick from the Divinyls likes to touch herself. Rock. Don’t forget to invite Cyndi Lauper.

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