This is going to be a bit odd, but I want to walk the reader through a recent CNN story, sharing my reactions along the way. The "news" item in question: "Homeowner offers house and her 'love' for sale." It deals with this craigslist ad. By the end of this post, we will have learned some important lessons, such as that there are much less dignified alternatives to eHarmony or staying home and masturbating to Adrien Brody movies.

She's tried nightclubs and online dating sites, but now a 42-year-old single mother is looking for love where everyone else's heart is breaking: the real estate market. After a year of trying to sell her four-bedroom home and eight years of singledom, Deven Trabosh is offering her South Florida home and a shot at marrying her on the Internet.

I don't see what could go wrong with this premise.

"I figured, let's combine the ad, because I'm looking for love and I'm looking to sell the house," said Trabosh, a Barbie-esque blonde who teeters around the nearly 2,000-square-foot house in patent leather heels.
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"Barbie-esque blonde who teeters around the house in patent leather heels." Mister, you just made a sale. Where do I sign?

"Marry a Princess Lost in America," Trabosh wrote in the ads she posted on eBay and Craigslist last week.

Interested in learning more about her noble birth, I did some research and found out that she is the eldest daughter of King Leathery II of the Land of Sadness. She is indeed next in line for the throne and therefore not misrepresenting herself as a Princess. Carry on.

Trabosh, a licensed real estate agent who hasn't practiced in years, knew that she would struggle to sell the home in the troubled real estate market but insists that her fairy-tale ad isn't just a sales gimmick.

Hmm, she hasn't worked in years. So this is apparently a very straightforward and ancient transaction: a financial Knight in Shining Armor agrees to rescue her in exchange for 6-8 years of dry, unenthusiastic fellatio. But hey, if you're a millionaire with a lifelong dream of fucking a woman who looks like a catcher's mitt, this is your chance!

"I'm struggling. … I don't want to lose my house, and I want to find somebody,"…"So I came up with this dream plan, because I've always dreamed about being a fairy-tale princess."

"Did I mention yet that my home is going to be foreclosed? Yeah, that's kinda relevant I guess. I also have a stunningly misguided conception of what being a Fairy Tale Princess entails. The only Fairy Tales my parents read to me were the screenplays to Pretty Woman and Hard Anal Sluts #19: There Will Be Sluts."

She listed the home for $340,000 on a sell-it-yourself Web site but upped the price, adding a $500,000 shipping fee to include her companionship on eBay.

I missed the part where this is not straightforward prostitution.

Trabosh says eBay removed her ad, though she planned to change the wording and repost it.

I wonder why eBay doesn't want to go down the path of allowing people to sell "companionship." I'm pretty sure it is because the prohibition against prostitution is the last remaining difference between eBay and the darkened alley behind a Laotian pai gow parlor at 3:30 AM on Saturday morning.

Trabosh hasn't received any serious offers but says she's had nearly 500 responses, mostly positive, including one from Ottie of Surrey, England, who e-mailed to say, "You are offering the perfect life with the perfect American princess."

"I can tell from your 100-word Craigslist ad. Also, I've never spoken to a woman without having to give my credit card number first."

She whips out her laptop to show off a picture of Claudio, a handsome Italian wine and cheese taster who she's been corresponding with since he responded to the ad. Seated on a white leather love seat in her living room, she giggles almost girlishly about him. They're hoping to meet in Miami in a few weeks.

Who wants to bet that "Claudio" is a 47 year-old laid-off welder who panhandles in Rome for hair gel money?
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I find it hard to believe that an attractive "Italian wine- and cheese-taster" is not hip-deep in pussy, and even harder to believe that he would need to troll Craigslist for pathetic Americans. If he wanted to nail vacuous blond Americans he would hang out at tourist sites in Rome and look for Lonely Planet books and Rutgers t-shirts.

"I'm not selling myself. I'm selling love … to meet that true love,"

I am going to call up a professor I know. She is the tenured chair of the Department of Love at Romance University. She will tell me if it is possible to sell love.

(phone rings)

(indistinct conversation)

No, she says it isn't.

"Of course, it's gonna take more chemistry and connection. It's not going to be instantaneous that I'm just going to be automatically for sale. … It's a package deal for true love."

(hits speed re-dial)

"Hi. Can 'true love' ever be a part of something described as a 'package deal'?"

(hangs up)

No. No, it can't.

"There is a plethora of quirky ads on craigslist that pop up on craigslist every day, and this appears to be one of them," spokeswoman Susan MacTavish Best said in an e-mail.

This is what separates craigslist from eBay. Their "quirky" is our "appalling."

Ideally, Trabosh hopes a European man will close the deal and says she's willing to move overseas.

That this will make it difficult-if-not-impossible for creditors to find and collect on her is incidental. Purely incidental. This is about true love. And someone buying an idiotically expensive house that was bought in 2001 and has since lost half of its value. And pony up an extra $500,000 (for her credit card bills, I presume) for the privilege of being married to someone who bathes in spray-on tanning fluid and shame.

"I know I'm putting myself out there. I'm sincere. I believe in true love,"

That has been proven.

"I want to get married again."

Did she mention the imminent foreclosure? Good. That's important.

Craigslist used to be a happy place people where people could find an old couch, fence stolen goods, and find a like-minded person with whom to sever and consume one's penis. Don't go changing on us.


Long-time readers know that I love eBay. On Tuesday, I finally reached a milestone that lets me know that I love it a little too much: the 1000-feedback pedestal. This should not pass without comment.
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There are no physical frontiers left in this country. There is no Wild West to settle, no exploration of rivers or continents that may or may not exist. We can go to Google Earth and get a 0.5-meter resolution picture of nearly every square inch of the globe. This is part of the reason why the internet is so phenomenally popular with younger people – whereas the age of exploration provided a ready outlet for the outcasts, the quasi-criminal, the incurably curious, and the foolhardy, the collapsing of physical space over the past century has eliminated the physical frontier. So we jump into the electronic one with both feet.

I estimate that I was one of the first 0.01% of users on eBay. I remember the incredible shadiness of the early days, and I can only compare it to what the general attitude toward laws must have been like in 1880 Dodge City. All those eBay rules you see? They exist because someone tried to do everything they now forbid.
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Want to know why eBay has a No Organ Sales policy? Because I remember the guy who tried to auction a kidney circa 1998.

That 1000 feedback mostly represents Ed allowing the libidinous, slightly criminal aspects of his mind out of the cage in the noble cause of supplementing his meager student income. I have illegally sold many copies of copyrighted works. I have printed and sold t-shirts to hippies. I sold "information" (seriously) about how to rack up thousands of frequent flyer miles at almost no cost – and I made WalMart change one of its corporate policies in the process. I bought hundreds of rare coins for peanuts at an estate sale and sold them. I sold items I didn't even have thanks to an arrangement with a wholesaler. Strangely, I feel fine about all of it. I was always honest (99.6% feedback, the red badge of being a dork) even while engaged in fundamentally shady enterprise.

I've concluded, regardless of whether or not I spend some time in purgatory for laws I may have skirted, that the world needs a giant legal gray area accessible to all. A place where people are trying to hustle and rip you off. A place with numerous rules but a ridiculously casual attitude toward enforcement. A place that doesn't coddle the foolish (who, in this instance, are ironically almost always the wealthy). That brand-new 80gb iPod on sale for $49.99 from SUPER BUY #1 ELECTRONICS located in Beijing? If you can't spot the scam, consider the $50 you lose to be a tax on your incomprehensible stupidity.

Thanks, eBay. The more legitimate and mainstream it gets, the less fun there is to be had. My next thousand won't be nearly as awesome as the first. But good lord, I will always remember and love the days of fully-automatic firearms, organs, and, pre-PayPal, the lingering assumption that the money you dropped in the mail would disappear into the hands of a scam artist, never to be heard from again.