Love and/or Sex: The easiest stuff in the (virtual) world to find 

It's a matter of buyer beware when it comes to finding love on the Internet

Without romance, we wouldn't find love. Without love, we'd be sad. Without sex, however, we would first be sad and then extinct. Sometimes sex leads to love, and sometimes love leads to sex--but of the two, sex is the most natural. Dogs try to do it with furniture and any part of any species within humping distance. Even plants engage in forms of sexual activity, though they don't end up with that dumb look on their faces that we do.

Uninterrupted love is rare, but the ubiquity of sexual desire never takes a break. From advertising to zoo keeping, it's everywhere. The planets are about the only bodies in the universe that aren't trying to bump into and onto each other.

Potential lovers these days are trying to point and click their way toward happiness. The vast quantity and varied quality of Internet dating sites has reached a staggering level. Like gambling, sometimes it works. Most of the time, it just foments excitement followed by queasiness and regret--kind of like eating a Boston cream pie or a box of those chalky little hearts with lame messages on them in one sitting. Despite the exponentially expanding population of profiles inhabiting the Web, people don't want to admit that they use them. They use fake names like "Cheekychick88." They disguise their images, sometimes blurring their eyes when they should blur lower. Myriad methods of meeting are out there, but regardless, watching happy couples flaunt their lust on Valentine's Day probably doesn't soothe the sting of solitude. Online dating, it's important to note, isn't just for lonely people--sometimes it's for those who think the orgy isn't big enough.

If you're alone, this time of year presents a dismal and stubborn reminder­--with the mandatory romance and forced bliss of Feb. 14--that you may never find love. You'll remain confined to your couch with nobody to talk to and nobody to share that stupid-looking orgasm face with.

It's time to look away from the hand-holders and neck-nibblers, to forget about fondling your fickle Facebook "friend," to renounce restaurant reservations, to kick the crap out of cuddly-cute commercials and instead play solitaire with one hand stuffed in a tube of cookie dough.

But remember--all hope hasn't been vanquished. This is 2011. You live in The Future. People used to have to find love and/or sex with "suitors" and "gentleman callers" who were close enough to hear them from across the fence. They would receive handwritten letters featuring words like "courtship." Then, once they found someone with a sturdy back for plowing and milking, they'd hurry and get pregnant, pumping out as many heirs as possible to help on the farm. They had to act fast before they turned 39 and died of tuberculosis.

Technological advances have rendered the world a dwarf of its former self. Interested in meeting someone from Uganda for a moonlit affair? Looking for someone who gets aroused by incorporating jumping jacks and Silly String into sensuality? How about some good old-fashioned group sex? Are you into gay voodoo polygamy? Married women whose husbands don't know they harbor secret wrestling fetishes? Perhaps you want to settle down with a "normal" man or woman--maybe both. Or are you merely looking for a transsexual that knits gargoyle-themed oven mitts? It doesn't matter anymore, because you can find whatever you want on the Internet--assuming you don't mind finding somebody who wants to be found on the Internet.

You'll have to get accustomed to some things, though. Online dating services often prevent casual browsing without receipt of your e-mail address, biography, fingerprints and a DNA sample. Also, whenever the euphemism "a few extra pounds" is used, accompanying pictures are conspicuously absent. Dating-site diction is oddly regressive on the explicit sites. People always seem to be looking for others to "play with." They say things like "hubby OK if I play without him." It initially feels like Romper Room porn. Then you see the tattoos of spider webs covering up wrinkles and realize everyone's of legal age.

Among the countless sites featuring people in the aforementioned description, innocence rears its occasional head, and you realize that the Internet is capable of nourishing genuine connections for life. At least it looks that way from the eHarmony commercials. It's probably closer to the type of connection-for-life that develops in other artificial environs--American Idol, for example. Whatever happened to that big, fat guy with the smooth voice? Nobody knows, and that's because the public's relationship with him was more analogous to casual sex than idolatry or love.

The good thing about the vastness of online dating sites is that anyone, no matter how unappealing, can now get laid without paying for it. Take a look--most of them already have profiles and pictures uploaded. There's somebody out there for everyone. Unfortunately, nobody has an excuse for a sexless life anymore--not even married people. is known as a site for people trying to cheat on their spouses--it was recently rejected as a Super Bowl advertiser--but while it features some of that, it's actually for anybody trying to have sex in all of the endless combinations imaginable. It's certainly not entirely adulterous. You'll find consensual straight couples looking for consensual gay couples, consensual gay couples looking for other consensual gay couples, threesomes looking for fivesomes.

The pictures, if you're allowed access to someone's "private showcase," are often as graphic as anything in the most inglorious porn available. As is frequently the case on these sites, the attractive members tend toward tastefully enticing photographs while the monstrously unattractive people, for some unaccountable reason, display limitless confidence.

That probably shouldn't be surprising, as it tends to mirror real life. Gorgeous professors usually keep their skirts on in public, but it wouldn't be shocking to see a tooth-damaged, mouth-breathing drunkard pull down his pants and scream, "Check it out!"

A Twin Falls couple had an interesting Ashley-inspired experience recently. They--like most people with a profile available to 6 billion people--insisted on anonymity. According to the woman, 39, she and her boyfriend, 40, met a supposedly 37-year-old woman at a bar for a potential threesome.

"We barely recognized her from the picture. She looked about 20 years older than she said. But that wasn't the worst thing. I talked to her for about five minutes before I found out she was a 'professional,'" the woman said. "I just looked at my boyfriend while she was talking and mouthed 'hooker.'"

It's easy to imagine the rendezvous having gone worse, though. They could have met the guy on, guy--who makes ice-piss sculptures. At least hookers offer something somebody somewhere wants.

"It's probably something you should mention before meeting people," she added. "I mean, it's not like we were planning on saying, 'How much do we owe you?'"

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