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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Ahhh, broken English. I’m not quite sure what it is—possibly the epeolatrist in me, possibly my love of the absurd—that absolutely adores English that is not quite right. And I don’t begrudge people having a difficult time with our word ordering and sentence structures. This is even hard for our own people, if you proofread some of the stuff that I have. But broken English is a fantastic thing that I, for whatever reason, greatly relish.

Directions that have been literally translated to English via a copy-and-paste method (I’m lookin’ at you, company who sold me my ping pong video game in 2005). Oddly endearing responses to online dating profiles (see my earlier post for a prime example of this bit of wonderful). And—always a treasure—Craigslist replies.

I had replied to a Craigslist furniture post hoping to procure this neat little curio cabinet. $30!! Sweet, right? This thing is adorable.

Only, possibly a little too adorable. Why is this being sold for only $30? Now, often the people on Craigslist don’t really know the value of the thing they’re selling, and more often than that, they just want to get the thing out of their house. So I figure it’s a good idea to respond and ask whether it’s in good condition or if there’s a reason for the mega-savings.

To Whom It May Concern:

Hi there. My name is Meg. I saw your curio and think it’s great. I’d love to purchase it from you. Quick question—are there any noteworthy chips or major marks on it?

Meg

I send this email, content with myself that I have asked a decent, straightforward question. Her response is prompt, thankfully, and I open it with the eagerness I reserve for opening an enormous, shiny present. What is the status of my soon-to-be curio cabinet?

Hi Meg,
Have available.
This is Marina and I don’t know not sure maybe yes some wood only doors or drawing or top and I am happy anytime you can come see around small curio if not, then don’t buy then no problem. My cell is xxx-xxx-xxxx only texts.
Thanks
Marina

Good, good. That’s very helpful. I can’t be sure, but I think that means… it’s a…cabinet.

Well.  *looks around*  …Any more questions for me to send to the oracle, here, anyone? Marina’s open for answers. Maybe you have a life quandary or something that she can clear up for you? No? Okay then. Thank you, Marina, sweetheart. You have a very good day.

I’m not that kind of girl. Well, not to strangers, anyway. Probably.

So, there I was, searching back through emails I had archived from about a year ago, and I came across something I had received and entirely forgotten about, which really should be shared with the world.

“And the answer is—it is often one of the only redeeming qualities of online dating.”

“Uh, what is ‘foreign guys who know just enough English to make it creepy,’ Alex?”

For sure, because it certainly isn’t worthwhile dates, in my experience. Not by a long shot. The hidden, seldom-shared actual benefit of dating online is the amusement and oddity upon which you’re likely to stumble, not entirely unlike attending the circus. For instance, you don’t want to stay at the circus forever—dear god, the headache. The grotesque freakishness, the garish makeup, the haunting music. But going once in a great while to marvel at the strange, colorful, and unusual can be quite fun.

Likewise, I can’t hang out on the online dating sites too often, because oh my god, does the anonymity of the Internet make otherwise normal people nuttier than squirrel crap. Or complete douche bags. You know, or possibly it’s just that anonymity and a lack of face-to-face social responsibility is just a magnifying glass to qualities that already existed in a person, like flat-out psychosis, a troglodytical disregard for manners, blatant megalomania, abject cowardice, glaring narcissism, (also related) total self-esteem failure, unchecked irascibility, general mean-spiritedness, sexual repression, sexual aggression, hate-mongering xenophobia, and remarkably hyperactive one-upmanship. They all tend to come out and line themselves up on these dating sites like a little psychologically damaged parade, often whacking you in the head with sexual harassment candies.

That being said, one of the only perks I’ve found of having an online dating account with PlentyofFish or OkCupid (with the exception of a precious few genuinely interesting and enjoyable people I’ve met as a result) is the occasional hilarious reply I receive that makes all the other boring, ridiculous, offensive, spambot, attention-starved, obnoxious, downright geriatric, or mass-produced replies seem worth wading through. Unlike my long-winded sentences. Which brings us to the foreign guys I mentioned, who clearly just enter what they want to say into a free direct translation Web site and paste it exactly into their message to you.

I shall lay this here—a response I had gotten a year ago to my PlentyofFish profile (and saved, thankfully). It is unaltered, except that I changed the email and phone number, in case any of you feel compelled to stalk poor Daniel here:

“I am Daniel. I WENT INTO YOUR PROFILE AND I AM VERY TOUCHED. I LIKE YOU AND WILL LIKE TO BE YOUR DATE LEADING TO MARRIAGE VERY SOON.I AM SINGLE AND NEED A COMFORTER.CANT SAY MUCH HERE .PLEASE SEN ME YOUR YAHOO ID WHEN REPLYING BECAUSE I WANT TO CHANCE ON YOUR HANDKERCHIEF. WANT TO TELL YOU MUCH ON YAHOO. MY YAHOO ID IS XXX123@YAHOO.COM.CELLPHONE NUMBER IS +5557770000 YOU CAN CALL ME TOO.KNOW THAT LOVE SHARES NO BOUNDARIES. GOOD MOMENTS.
BYE DANIEL “

Oh, Daniel. Daniel, Daniel, Daniel, Daniel. Thank you for making this all so worthwhile, because that was pure poetry. I adored it. The inexplicable all-caps with the exception of the first sentence, the hasty marriage proposal, the free love advice, the desire for new bedding (he’s in need of a comforter, folks), the enigmatic signoff: “GOOD MOMENTS.” All of it, gorgeous.

I mean, I didn’t actually reply to this. Yeah, if I wanted my handkerchief chanced on, I would march it on down to a fetish club. But his reply did, nonetheless, remind me why I keep my profile on these sites amidst an incessant forum for negativity and degradation.

Complete hilarity.