It was a job, after all, and back then jobs were hard to come by, especially if you’d just been awarded a Master of Arts in English literature, which was more or less a passport to oblivion. Once upon a time, of course, a higher degree in English could get you places, say on an editorial board of a literary magazine or in a halfway-decent publishing house as a gofer on the fast track to becoming an associate editor. Back in the day it was like having a higher degree in philosophy; it meant you knew stuff. At some point I came to this crossroads, and instead of falling down on my knees like Robert Johnson and selling my soul to the Devil, decided not to become a rock star or a lawyer and opted to become an English major. Had I chosen the first I’d now be playing bass in a reunion band in oceanside casinos and amusement parks up and down the East Coast. Middle-aged people would sit and fan themselves while they vaguely remembered seeing us back in their murky pasts, when they were hip and cool and, of course, considerably less middle-aged and had better hair.

If it weren’t for clumsy opening sentences, I’d never write anything.

I generally avoid writing about writer’s block. It can feel lazy and self-involved, like a screenplay about a screenwriter trying to write the perfect screenplay, or a commercial about an ad agency pitching commercial ideas. (Oh, are you a rapper that raps about the awesome raps you rap? Because that would make you a very mediocre rapper!)

But what I find interesting about writer’s block is the desperation. And by “interesting” I mean “hilarious,” because desperation can make you do some really idiotic shit.

Like, you know those key chains that have a built-in sensor so that if you lose your keys you can clap your hands and the sensor will hear the clap and the key chain will beep and you can follow the beeps with your ears to find your keys? Have you had one of these? I have not. But sometimes, after looking repeatedly for my keys, I will clap my hands and hope that my keys will just know what to do.

And, once in a while, it works.

I know I’ve reached that same level of desperation in my writing when I start Googling whole sentences in hopes that the Internet will magically provide a literal answer, which it never, ever does. Say, for example, I am having trouble writing a joke about poodles (which is impossible because poodles are ridiculous and stupid and so easy to make fun of). When desperate, I’ll search, “How do I make a joke about a poodle?!!!”

And, once in a while, it works.

It delivers a needed distraction–my brain’s way of telling me that I am not interested in what I’m writing about, and helping me to connect it to something I do find interesting. So, searching for poodle jokes–searching for anything–leads me on a click-based voyage to Tangent Town, where hours later I’ll find myself reading Wikipedia entries about true crime stories that have been made into Lifetime movies. Then inspiration strikes.

“Poodle owners are like that lady that was engaged to the Craigslist Killer. Even after you show them piles of ripped up panties under the bed, they refuse to believe they live with a monster.”

And if inspiration refuses to strike, it doesn’t mean those hours spent wandering around online are a total waste. By running out the clock on my deadline, I can stop caring altogether. Out of time means out of options means I just have to just poop something out and move on.

“Poodles? Gross.”

Is it a perfect solution? No. Have I failed terribly? A little. Is it the end of the world? Of course not. (I mean, I hope not, for my sake. It would be very stressful to live in a world that depends on my constant supply of innovative and imaginative poodle jokes.)

I guess what I’m trying to say is,

Dear Generic Online Dating Site,

While ruminating on my single status, I tempted fate and examined one of your websites. I perused the gallery of eligible men. I even went so far as to fill out a questionnaire and wait with bated breath while your “Romance Experts” (and yes, the air quotes are definitely implied there) tallied my results and told me my most likely matches were a man who lives in his mother’s basement but is “seriously working on moving up to the second floor” and a goat farmer who misspelled the word “goat” in his profile narrative.

(Seriously, it’s a four letter word. How does one misspell a four letter word? How?!) 

Amongst all of this dating excitement, I have discovered that your website is, quite possibly, the most useless invention this side of a melon baller. Now, thanks to the advent of technology, I can be rejected through various online means by the very men whom you claimed were “destined to be my soul mate”.

This is, perhaps, the greatest irony of all…seeing as how in your delightful little questionnaire I indicated that I DO NOT BELIEVE IN THE CONCEPT OF SOUL MATES.

Haha…hoho…funny little online dating site, oh how you amuse me.

It’s amazing, really, how you have created a subcategory of desperation. I know that before your arrival on the scene I wasn’t exactly sure how to define my own desperation. I feel much better about it now. It shouldn’t be too surprising, then, that your television commercials and magazine advertisements have convinced women over the age of 15 that the most horrible thing in the world would be to live their lives without a wedding ring surgically attached to their ring finger.

“What do you mean you’re 22 and not married?! Inconceivable!”

“You do realize that if you’re not married by the age of 30, you’ll never get married. You’ll die alone, eaten by cats, and your neighbors will find you wearing a housecoat and granny panties instead of a silk kimono and a tasteful thong.”

And so on, and so forth. 

Being single has been reduced to a disease, an illness that should have a cure and proper course of treatment. Perhaps your “Romance Experts” could write an article for the New England Journal of Medicine on the Great Plague of Singledom. They could suggest pina coladas and getting caught in the rain as two excellent medications for this horrible sickness.

Single women all over the globe are slowly but surely convincing themselves that joining a leper colony would be preferable to being unmarried at the age of 35. We never worried about these things until your quaint commercials began popping up and telling us that being worried isn’t enough, that we should be absolutely terrified.

Shame on you, Generic Online Dating Site. Shame on you for making us so concerned about a future spent without a husband. Shame on you for telling us that it’s not okay to date just to date, but that we should, instead, be seeking out a long-term commitment. Shame on you for suggesting that I cannot hang my own shelves or unclog my own drain or kill my own mutant spiders.

I could probably even milk my own goats…


Meghan E. Hunt