Jezebel recently mocked one of those interminable articles by "pick-up artists," this one published by Ask Men, that instruct their seething, resentful audience in the art of picking up women to fill out points on your imaginary score card. This particular article stuck with me because it had unusually high levels of blunt misogyny in a genre that specializes in blunt misogyny, with advice like this: "Imagine that you're just approaching this woman to have a conversation, not to bang her." But for those men who find it impossible even to imagine talking to a woman because you enjoy it, the Washington Post has a trend piece about companies that men can hire that will do all their online dating for them. All they have to do is show up on the date and cash in on someone else's ability to imagine enjoying an online conversation with a woman that leads up to a real date.
Hiring someone to pretend to be you, feigning interest in looking up and chatting with women through a dating Web site, isn't cheap, of course. The customers of this service largely seem to be privileged but busy men, which only adds to the creepy sense that they see dating as a form of shopping, and shopping as a chore that can be delegated to the help. It's unclear if those hiring this service spend more of their own time and attention picking out the clothes they wear on dates than the dates themselves, and it's quite possible that they do. After all, if you're indifferent to that je nais se quoi of attraction, you can tell a dating service that you only want women who are under a certain height and weight and have a certain hair color to generate some hits, but clothes you often have to try on to know that they fit.
One can hear the usual defenses from men who find it simply too painful to go through the process of treating women like they're interesting, discrete individuals in order to get access to the vagina. It's too hard; women are too mean-and don't you know that women are basically all one undifferentiated mass of irrational demands to be treated like they're not an undifferentiated mass? Or maybe just claims that they're too busy. But if you're too busy to go through profiles on a dating Web site, I have to believe you're way too busy to spend time getting to know someone once the service has done its duty of pretending that you're interested in getting to know someone for you.
Of course, someone probably wouldn't grow broke offering a service that does the dating for you, if they could just figure out a way to get the ladies to accept the handover from the company representative at the client's bedroom door after the dinner and a movie. Or you could just spend 99 cents for an iPhone application that pretends to be a submissive girlfriend from a former Communist nation, if that would be easier.
Photograph of money changing hands by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.