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Making Good on a Bad Idea

October 7, 2013

I spend a lot of time on Craigslist. Not only is it the single most informative unedited, first-person source of everything that confirms my own nagging suspicions that sex is gross, it’s also a great way to find out about movies in need of actresses as well as writing and editing projects in need of, well, writers and editors.

It’s also a great source of writing gold that doesn’t have an immediate payoff. By this, I refer to several of the posts under “[City Name] Talent Gigs,” which do seem to require a certain amount of, um, talent for being very, very flexible. Take that any way you like, because it’s a sure bet that whoever wrote the post meant it in all ways possible.

But there are the few that aren’t outright pleas for the next Jenna Jameson to come forward and do a “discrete (ENGLISH TEACHER SMASH!) private video” for far lower than the Screen Pornography Leaders On- and Offline Guild Etc. (SPLOOGE) mandates as a minimal day rate.*

*Yes, I am fully aware that there is a real union dedicated to the men and women who keep our collective fuel pumps churning, and as a registered Democrat, I fully support the rights of workers to band together in the name of fair wages and fair treatment. As someone with the maturity of an eight-year-old, however, I find the onomotopaeiac word “splooge” side-splittingly hilarious.

Some of these entries toe the line, flirting dangerously with desperation in just a few lines of text. I recall an entry from several years ago, shortly after I had graduated college and was not being met with the tsunami of job offers that I had been led, even in those halcyon pre-Great Recession days, to believe were forthcoming before the ink would have a chance to dry on my diploma.

Some gentleman who apparently had no time for trying romance wanted to outsource his dating life. I explain by quoting the post verbatim, as condensing and regurgitating it in my own words would take away so much of the necessary WTF:

Skills required:

-Superb writer, previous ghostwriting experience a plus

-Basic knowledge in Adobe Photoshop

-High energy, good mood

-Excellent computer skills, email, blogs, photos (Mac preferable)

-Good at scheduling and making travel arrangements, loves to travel

-Would love to spend up to a year in beautiful Hawaii

-No smoking, drinking or drugs

Definition of ghostwriter (Wikipedia):

A ghostwriter is a professional writer who is paid to write books, articles, stories, reports, or other texts that are officially credited to another person. Celebrities, executives, and political leaders often hire ghostwriters to draft or edit autobiographies, magazine articles, or other written material.

Employer’s background:

-The employer is a non-smoking/non-drinking entrepreneur with a busy work schedule, who does not fancy the idea of socializing at bars or night clubs.

-The employer is in search of a potential soulmate who share similar qualities with him- healthy lifestyle, interest in yoga and outdoor activities, enthusiasm and a zest for life

Overview:

-Your job will be to assist the employer in finding his soulmate.

-You will need to interview him so you can write outstanding profiles for dating sites.

-You need excellent computer skills so you can easily post profiles, photos, etc without his help.

-You will ghostwrite all the emails to potential candidates. The entrepreneur will review and approve any emails before they are sent out.

-The entrepreneur currently lives in Hawaii and will most likely need to travel to the mainland to go on dates to meet his potential soulmate.

-You will schedule and book all travel arrangements and lunches/dinners as needed.

Additional responsibilities (optional):

The chosen candidate will receive a basic salary for the above-mentioned tasks.

Since it is a full-time position in Hawaii, the candidate will also be given the option of increasing income by taking on the following work

– Assisting with some other work, such as mail, bills, shopping.

Candidates with good culinary skills will have the opportunity to earn additional income by cooking lunch and dinner, organic healthy food with wild fish, grass feed beef etc.

Remuneration:

-Monthly salary

-Accommodation provided.

You will get your own ocean view guest room with your own private bath room in Hawaii.

-There are also travel opportunities to different cities in the mainland US where you will be in charge of restaurant bookings, transportation arrangements, scheduling and keeping track of the employer’s lunch/dinner meetings with potential soulmates, and ensuring punctuality.”

The truly sad part is, I WAS ACTUALLY CONSIDERING RESPONDING TO THIS AD. Sadder still was that the candidate who actually DID respond apparently failed in her mission, as I saw a near-repeat one year later. I guess life can’t turn out like a rom-com after all, with the ghostwriter and the busy businessman finding out after a series of bickering and putting-down of each other’s lifestyles that they are one another’s twu wuvs–beg pardon, soulmates–after all.*

*This is actually the plot for the screenplay I began when I realized that the best way to break into the screenplay business was to give audiences exactly what they want. I have yet to finish, however, as I have absolutely no talent for or interest in the rom-com genre. If anybody out there would like to pick up where I left off, kindly contact me so we can become rich, famous, and soulless together!

Alas, very little has surpassed that since. But I still see “opportunities” that I file away in my mental junk drawer to be pulled out when the need for story filler hits. And since none of the newer ones have required me to pull up stakes and abscond to Hawaii for a year, I once again find my pointer hovering over the “reply” button.

The ads these days are mostly for single males, either recently divorced or fresh in town, with no interest in a long-term relationship but in need of “arm candy” or a “dinner and travel partner” who is willing to bargain a small amount of dignity in exchange for food and drinks.

And because I do love a good steak dinner and a potential story, I’ve almost shot off an email several times. In some ways, it would be perfect. I don’t want a long-term relationship, either. And as long as I brought a release form to dinner allowing me to use the anonymized gent and his experiences with me that evening as potential fodder for (at the least) this blog and (at the most) a TV series, the idea seems to go, in my mind, from godawful to so-bad-it’s-brilliant.

Thus begging the question: am I really that crazy? And if so, am I willing to risk being sucked into a romantic comedy of my own making?

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5 Comments
  1. Amber permalink

    This reminds me of some ads I see in a local weekly newspaper. Some rich dude often advertises a personal assistant position. He first lists the usual, reasonable qualifications: specific secretarial, management, and organizational skills. But then he mentions that the ideal candidate must be a woman – and a thin, conventionally beautiful one at that. And he gives new meaning to the common job description add-on, “Other duties as assigned”.

    I find this both disgusting and intriguing. I imagine a story where the ideal woman is hired and duly appreciated for her ASSets. But one of the rich guys semi-nerdy minions fall in love with her, and tries to figure out how he can win over this woman without paying her. There’s a rom-com for you!

    • The ones I’ve seen on my local gigs page request an “Office Ass-istant.” I guess at least anyone with a couple brain cells to rub together knows exactly what they’re getting into with the title?

      In my planned version of the “Ghostwriter” script, the woman is hired, spends some time with the guy and learning what a raging jackass he is, but he falls for her and eventually changes his dickish ways to convince her to stay in his Hawaiian paradise with him, a la Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice (a book I cannot stand, though don’t tell anyone from my college that). Of course there’s a romantic false flag in there with a woman who totally falls for the ghostwritten messages, and the only way I could even begin to convince myself to write the rest of the script was to have the two women get together at the end, but alas for Hollywood heteronormativity. I like your version too, though!

  2. Ha, you must definitely be looking at the Denver gigs page! I really enjoyed this post. Well written and super funny!!

    • Ugh, how did you know? Of course, I get the feeling that’s the sort of thing you see in gigs listings for all cities over a certain population!

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