Crazy About Numbers
What are the odds of getting a letter into the column? Not good, CAN. I get on average 8,000 pieces of e-mail every week--and that's after spam. About 50% of the non-spam mail is from people who don't have questions for me, CAN, they just think I'm an idiot and want to tell me so. Another 25% is from people who think I'm wonderful and want to tell me so.
I don't take the hate/love imbalance to heart--whether you're talking advice columns, op-ed columns, or sports columns, ticked-off people are likelier to write in. I print negative letters frequently, as any regular reader knows, but never praise. I mean, what kind of insecure bag of slop prints letters of praise in his own column?
The final 25%--about 2,000 letters--contains actual questions. Since I use about three questions per week, the odds of a particular question getting into the column are not only slim, CAN, they're satanic. People who send in actual questions--not criticism, not praise, but sex questions--have a 1 in 666 chance of seeing their questions in the column. Funny how that pencils out, huh?
My girlfriend wrote a sex column for her college newspaper last year that was mostly about our sex life. Being with her made me wonder about your partner. Does he dig having the world know all about his sex life?
Does the world know all about my boyfriend's sex life? No, the world does not. You see, JS, unlike most college sex columnists, I don't write about my own sex life--if I want to keep getting into my boyfriend's pants, I have to keep him out of the column. That's our deal. On those rare occasions when I have mentioned details about my sex life, JS, it's almost always bullshit. Like when I wrote about having a three-way with Trent Ford and Jim Romenesko--that never happened, JS.
When did one man become the expert on love and dating? Excuse me, a "sexpert." So tell us all how love works, Mr. Sexpert. You will not respond to this e-mail because it will not promote your career.
I've never claimed to be an expert, DB. "Sex expert" and--ugh!--"sexpert" are terms that others have slapped on me, not terms I've ever used to describe myself (at least not without rolling my eyes). What I am is an advice columnist--and I'm not the only one, so "one man" is not "the expert on love and dating." According to Webster's, "advice" means "an opinion about what could or should be done." The only qualification you need to give someone your advice is having been asked for it. Is my advice "expert"? Dunno. But if I gave useless advice, DB, people would stop asking for it, right?
As to how love works, well, no one knows the answer to that one. We all know love when we feel it but the particulars vary so widely, the feeling is so subjective, that making generalizations about love is hardly worth the effort. I mean, what looks and feels like love to me would, I promise you, leave you sexually, emotionally, and spiritually traumatized.
I met these two boys at a bar and I thought they were both really nice, and kinda cute. They told me they both work for an advice column. They wouldn't tell me which one, but I think I might've figured it out on my own...
It's been a long, long time since I've had two boys working under me, Amanda, and the last time it happened I was in Las Vegas with Trent Ford, Jim Romenesko, and eight rolls of duct tape. The boys you met must work for Carolyn Hax.
Do you ever get follow-up e-mails from readers who've used your advice? I don't know if this would be divulging a trade secret or anything, but what is your overall success rate? I would be very interested to read a column or two devoted to Dan success (or failure) stories!
Curious in Cleveland
Interesting idea, CIC. If anyone who took my advice and wants to vent, send your story to firstname.lastname@example.org. If I get enough responses, I'll devote an upcoming column to my few successes and many failures.
I've been reading your column for nearly a year and I've noticed something. You rarely post letters of praise. Do you get them? I wanted to let you know that there are many people out there who enjoy your work very much. I understand that the negative letters are more fun to respond to. But give your fans a voice, too! We can always count on you to give your honest opinion and keep an open mind regarding any issue. It's nice to see somebody who is just as willing to give a verbal slap in the face to members of his own community (your tough approach to gay men who spread HIV) as you are to give praise to those you're not particularly a part of (like Canadians). I, for one, appreciate your work.
Dan's Biggest Canadian Fan
Hey Portland: The Mercury's new personals--Lovelab and Lustlab--are now up and running for your enjoyment. Why change? Because our new personals are hot snot on china, while our old personals were like a cold booger on a paper plate. Check this out: Lovelab is for singles who are relationship-minded--but, you know, hip to modern dating & mating rituals. Lustlab is for Portland's kinky singles (some of whom are relationship-minded, thank you!) and adventurous couples (Seeking a third? Wanna loan out your slave?).
Lovelab and Lustlab are "a fully integrated newspaper and website personals system." What that means in English is this: Every personal you find in the paper has a corresponding profile online. These profiles include more information--including pictures!--than any newspaper ad ever could. You can go to www.portlandmercury.com and look up your future bed-mate's pictures, sweated-over essay questions, and answers to hi-fuckin'-larious fill-in-the-blank questions. And since Lovelab and Lustlab are by and for folks who live in Portland--they're not national websites with a Portland link--you won't find yourself crushing out on someone you're never actually going to meet, somebody who lives in, say, Cape Town or Taiwan. Lovelab and Lustlab are for people who live and work in--and want to get laid in--Portland.
The Mercury has always loved love, and our personals sections have been getting Portland laid since 2000. We think you're going to dig our new personals site. Check 'em out.