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A Flattering Proposal

            Hey, everyone, I'm back! Didja miss me and my unique brand of pointless triviality all wrapped in a neat little package of subversive and incomprehensible writing? Well, you'll have to wait a little longer. In honor of my greatness, and in honor of how I don't want to do an article because I just got back from Japan, today I'm publishing a letter from a reader.
            This letter was written by someone we all now know and love from the message board, Raka. Awhile back, he composed the following letter in response to my future wedding article.

After obsessively committing to memory every detail of your web page, I find myself head over heels in a way I haven't felt since I first heard the Pogues while rolling downhill stuffed in a cylinder of some sort. I know I will not rest until I win your hand and heart and any other sundry limbs and bits of circulatory system you have lying about, or until I get tired. I read of your perfect wedding, and your call for proposals-- and knew my time had come. Unfortunately, I fear there may be some obstacles to our perfect, eternal union.

1.) I'm old. Not "What did they use for pencils when you were young?"-old, but "You were alive when that band/cartoon/political dictator was popular?"-old. 23, to be precise. Sure, when I'm 86 and you're... somewhat less than 86, that won't seem like a big deal. But right now, it's downright "this tense smile is to distract you from seeing my desperate attempts to surreptitiously signal the police" creepy.

2.) I'm far away. Same continent and all, but I commute on my bicycle. That would result in a seriously sweaty suitor. That might be attractive for a big muscular manly type, but a sweaty and bedraggled me inspires less swooning and more having a muscular spinster aunt take me out to a stream and beat me against a rock like odious laundry. Laundry that belongs to people who live near a stream. With rocks. And muscular aunts. And aversions to washing machines. All in all, not a vote in my favor.

3.) I'm not horribly attractive. Sure, that's shallow; but my exposure to you consists of a web page, while yours of me consists of this letter. I can't exactly play up the soulmate angle here. I'm not to the point where I can get complimented on my nonexistent Halloween costume, but I'm all gangly and have a head slightly too large for my body and have hair just a little longer than looks good on me and stuff. You know the part in art class where they show how slight distortions of proper proportion and spacing of features can render a human figure villainous or spooky or pathetic? My Guardian Genetic Fairy was taking that class when designing me.

4.) I'm male. Granted, I don't personally find this entirely negative. I do sometimes I feel unwillingly inducted into a group I can't be exactly proud of, like having a swastica birthmark; but there are usually enough decent guys for me to hide behind. But while not outright bad, it's certainly a limiting factor. Depending on whose surveys you like, 40% to 60% of the world's population wouldn't date me for this reason alone.

5.) I'm awash in a sea of ignorance. OK, that's just a melodramatic way of saying "we don't know each other at all" while retaining the "I'm ..." theme of the first sentence of these points. It's also true in at least two more grand senses, but they're less funny. Point is, my mental image of you is effectively "witty and interesting cartoon character" while yours should probably be "progressively more creepy guy who doesn't shut up". I don't know about you (exactly the point!), but that's a serious bar to a deep relationship for me.

These realizations may have slowed a lesser soul, but I persevere. I meditated and prayed, and as I often do in times of turmoil and stress, I consulted that great source of wisdom available to all of mankind when we open our hearts enough to seek it: anime. And lo, in a symphony of j-pop music from the speakers above me, an answer was granted.

I may never be your groom, but I am perfectly suited for you. As the "Guy As What Be Stalking Laura". Not just a standard dead-rose-sending, celebrity-assassinating stalker, but a true, full-blown anime stalker. The sort with an implausible backstory and an implacable ambition. The sort that will scream incoherently and gesture wildly in public to express the anguish of my desire, while my facial features contort and occasionally leap clear of my face altogether. The sort that will lunge at you at random moments, only to be halted by massively outsized blunt objects you and the other main characters will strike my head with. This is my dream. This would turn all of the negative points mentioned previously into positives:

1.) I'm old: Who cares? Age differences in anime are a good bit more liberal than in America. Besides, it contributes nicely to the all-important "eewwww" factor.

2.) I'm far away: Perfect. This means you and all the other main characters can be surprised when I appear for a time on one concocted story or another, and I can disappear neatly when it's convenient for the plot to progress. This also gives good opportunity for expository scenes of me crossing the country via bicycle or skipping camel or whatnot, vowing to myself that this time, I cannot fail.

3.) I'm not horribly attractive: not a problem. I'm not so repulsive that the audience won't at least sympathize with my plight, but I'm not so gorgeous that most of the audience won't be screaming "Laura, you idiot! do you think you're going to do any better?" They'll cheer me on while agreeing with you the whole time.

4.) I'm male: a great corollary to #3. Female stalkers must be drop-dead gorgeous, but males are given the option to be creepy or quirky as well. Doesn't matter, we all get shot down in the end, so gender's more or less irrelevant.

5.) I'm awash in a sea of ignorance: absolutely essential. Anime stalkers must be 10th degree masters of denial and self-deception. Deep, meaningful connections with each other is kind of antithetical to the whole concept. Having an image of you as a cartoon character would be fairly appropriate. And after all, given my own rules on relationships, I don't so much want to be "the guy that marries Laura"-- I want to be "the guy who wants to want to marry Laura". That last sentence isn't quite right, but it has way too much inertia for me to get in front of it.

What's in all this for you? Well, aside from a new character to boost your ratings and make action figures and lunchboxes and desktop themes for, there are some standard benefit packages.

-- Fortune Cookie Factor: You will lead a more interesting life. Also, if you want to develop a theme or moral that is almost incomprehensible, has little or nothing to do with everything that came before, and can be summed up in one line right before the end of the episode, my wacky antics will provide the perfect opportunity.

--Self-Propelled Ergonomic Stress Reliever/Make Money $FAST$!!!! : In my presence, you will gain the power to spontaneously generate giant mallets, anvils, livestock, etc. and release that head-bashing anger you may or may not have stored up, all without permanent injury to any parties concerned. Afterward, these magic instruments of whacking may be sold for a tidy profit.

--Serendipity: If I suspect that you harbor affection for another, I will devise elaborate schemes to ensnare, seduce, or decieve one or both of you. While annoying at the time, they will inevitably backfire and drive you and your paramour into each other's arms as one of you rescues the other or accidentally reveals how much they care. Indeed, I may be instrumental in beginning or maintaining the relationship. This is an oft-neglected field of marriage counseling.

What's in it for me? Well, that depends on how the series goes. If it is a light-hearted Rumiko Takahashi-style romp, I'll undoubtedly end up with someone who was either stalking me or stalking your ultimate partner. If it becomes a more serious dramatic theme with strong humor elements (something anime does far better than any American entertainment besides good theater), I'll probably get a marvelously dramatic death scene where I sacrifice myself to save you or your love, and die in your arms while gasping out something appropriately poignant and irreverent. Both of these are pretty nifty, but I'm neither especially lonely nor eager to shuffle of this mortal coil right now. More appealing to me is the opportunity to make a fool of myself in public and get smacked in the head repeatedly. This is fairly representative of my life right now; but as an anime stalker, other people will finally be able to hear the soundtrack that follows me around, and my camera angles will be more flattering. That's enough for me.

If this proposal is acceptable, knock on the floor three times. I will immediately begin construction of my secret army of giant gooey mecha, which I shall dub the Pillsbury Doughbots. With them, I will lay siege to your city and completely fail to win your heart.

I cannot fail.


Raka has contributed much to the L&Eiverse, including many thoughtful message on the message board, a sense of dignity, an article about velcro and microwaves and a box of goodies.


- Laura