Hit or Miss

When I moved here to the middle of nowhere, I placed a couple of online personal ads (bonus points if you can find them), hoping that I’d find my rural Prince Charming – that rare combination of rustic simplicity and intelligent urbanity.

Since then, I’ve gotten the occasional responses from married men on the sly or undergrads (which are off-limits to me). Suffice to say, I’ve never written back to any of them.

So the other day, I get a nice email from this 25-year-old who lives a couple of towns over. Putting aside any doubts about his actual identity (since that seems to be the concern these days), I would have totally been tempted to write back except for one thing.

There were too many misspelled words in the email.

Now I know that email is an informal communication medium, but I do feel like you have to draw the line somewhere. I’m no high school English teacher, but I am a reasonably intelligent, educated person (misspellings on my own weblog notwithstanding) and I can’t help but feel like I’d like to date someone who is equally reasonably intelligent.

I remember reading (but not where) that most people end up dating people who are at or near their own education level. Unfortunately for me, there’s a shortage of people who have completed post-Masters level degrees out here in rural Missouri (and the only gay men I’ve meet have a habit of bringing along their handsome partners with them).

12 responses so far (Respond)

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Don’t get hung up on the degree thing, Matt (trust me on this :-)), but I have to agree with you on poor grammar/spelling being a “warning sign.” It’s not snobbish at all–I mean, those are the BASICS, for God’s sake–avoiding someone because of that is no different than avoiding someone because they like rock climbing and you’re scared of heights. Oil and water and so on…

Max | 22 May 2001
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Matt… I have found in my life that intelligence manifests itself in various ways, there are plenty of people out there who are wicked-smart that couldn’t spell for their life. I mean, look at yourself: you even made a mistake (“…who is equally [reasonably] intelligent…) in a thread that would be scrutinized for just such an error by all of your adoring fans. For all you know, this gentleman was just nervous.

Vis10n | 22 May 2001
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You’re correct of course (about the grammar error, which I fixed in the post above, and about people having different types of intelligences). But, for example, repeatedly using “wright” for “write” (as in “please wright me back”) is a bit of a turn-off.

Matt | 22 May 2001
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Perhaps he’s dyslexic or has some other learning disability? Perhaps he had just gotten back from playing D&D fighting wrights? Look, rampant bad typing is a turn-off for me, too, but face it. If you stay that picky, you’re going to stay dateless. (Not that dateless is bad, but you are looking.) Maybe that’s the *only* thing about him that you’ll dislike?

Just one date. Could it hurt? If it makes you feel better, bring back-up. Make it a double date.

Jason | 22 May 2001
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Is it possible that he’s not a native English speaker?

Vis10n | 22 May 2001
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No, I understand what Matt is saying. I met a girl in Washington DC once, and we hit it off right away. When we went our separate ways, we continued to correspond via snail mail (ah 1997, before I had even seen the internet) and her spelling and grammar was atrocious. While I liked hanging out with her, and I was physically attracted to her, I decided that writing to this girl 1000 miles away wasn’t worth my time if she didn’t even care to write reasonably accurate English sentences.

At the same time, what could one date hurt, right?

Bob | 22 May 2001
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I know what you’re saying about spelling, Matt. I’d always thought I’d feel the same way. All I can say is, thank god the BF and I didn’t meet online… my honey’s spelling is atrocious!

If I had based my decision on his ability to spell, I would have thrown away what has proven to be the best
relationship I’ve ever had. I just turn off the proofreader in my head and leave it alone, unless he asks me for input.

So, meet this guy for coffee. He may be witty, intelligent, and dyslexic, who knows?

mattee | 22 May 2001
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Never mind, it’s wights (in reference to the D&D thing) but you never know. 😛

Jason | 22 May 2001
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Heh. I know that I must come off like a twelve-year-old girl in IM sessions (I get excited, OK?).

I suspect you’d get a better sense of your compatibility if you met him. I’m with Jason: it might be different if you were swamped with responses, but too much pickiness results in you never going out.

Of course, if there’s other stuff in his email that you’re reacting negatively to, the spelling may just be the easiest thing to focus on.

Any other matters where I can offer unsolicted advice?

Bill | 22 May 2001
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Oh, yeah, what Bill says about other negative things. If he said that he goes out and kills squirrels with his bare hands so he can stuff them and rearrange them, diorama style, in renditions of scenes from Ben Hur, then I can see the hesitation. Wait, is that a negative?

Jason | 23 May 2001
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Hey Matt, you know what they say — there are either good times, or good stories. Just meet him for coffee or something. And he’s a freak of nature, well, now you have some fodder for your weblog. *smirk*

Ernie | 23 May 2001
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I dated the squirrel diorama guy. His spelling was impeccable.

TheBrad | 23 May 2001