The Web of Desire

On any given day, Craiglist is a compendium of what we want and don't want anymore


We want to rescue ailing hermit crabs. We want to swap a 10-foot wooden ladder for topsoil. We want General Mills to sell Lucky Charms marshmallows separate from the cereal. We want a pretty tennis partner.

We want partners for plenty of other stuff, too - fleshy transactions that you have to be 18 years old to even read about. And in some cases, we want to be paid $150 or $300 for our trouble. But the schemes of the four alleged prostitutes busted in Anne Arundel County last week for soliciting sex on Craigs represent only one strand in the vast web of desire that is the online classified site, where people buy and sell and barter and boast and attempt to fall in love.

On any given day - last Wednesday, let's say -- thousands of anonymous local listings paint a collective portrait of the good people of Maryland, from our fetishes, skills and singular possessions to our very hopes and dreams.

We want a Beck's beer sign for our buddy's birthday party.

We want to get rid of a Quaker parrot and some "extremely friendly" leopard geckos.

We'd like a lead singer for our band, Mendocino Beano.

We'd be glad to speak at your coming event, because we are the reigning Miss Christian United States.

We want a "sweet, caring and romantic" lover who lives no more than 30 miles from Catonsville, and, if not, "don't bother wasting the energy to type me because gas isn't cheap anymore."

We want to ride a horse that lives no more than 30 miles from Baltimore, because we are a 14-year-old "responsible English rider," and that's how far our parents are willing to drive us.

We seek to obtain a large boat "that floats."

We want our children to win an online beauty contest and for strangers to vote for them repeatedly.

We want strangers to care for our children, and, happily, there's no shortage of baby sitters on Craigslist yearning to oversee snacks and naptimes, to teach our tots colors, numbers, Spanish and computer wizardry. But, alas, we want more than that. We want "a combination of a home manager, personal assistant, driver, dog walker, calendar manager, computer helper, errand-goer, and an alter-ego for me (mother) to interface with any other household helpers."

WANTED: a pond pump, some picket fencing, somewhere to hunt deer (we'll share our catch).

We want a groomer to untangle our "VERY knotty cat."

We'd like to divest ourselves of the following: a 37-inch inflatable Halloween monster, two wheelbarrows' worth of small stones, several wooden sofa feet, 15 bags of iridescent snowflakes, two "high quality fake fiscus trees," a Dogloo (dog igloo, golden retriever-sized), a "barely used" massage table, calculus books, a .73-carat engagement ring.

And we don't always want to explain the reason.

"Due to other business priorities, we will be selling our 8 foot (on wheels) barbeque smoker."

Of course, we want sex - Craigslist isn't kidding about the "explicitly offensive content" warning in the personals section. It seems we want to dominate, submit, dress up. We want a date who's into bondage, or Elizabeth Barrett Browning. We want someone willing to consort with a "married professional male" who works in Annapolis. We want tattooed or pregnant people to take pictures of. We want a church-going girl. Someone to scrub our toilets topless. A violinist.

We want this and more, but we'll take much less. We want somebody, anybody, to reply after viewing our picture. We want to reconnect with the cute person who gazed at us in traffic, "on 175 Eastbound between Tamar Drive and Dobbin Rd." We want to go salsa or '80s club dancing. We want someone to laugh at our jokes, accept the scale of our rear-ends, go to museums, foreign films and dinner.

We want a future to dream of, and already we are getting ahead of ourselves.

"Divorce will never ever be an option," we write, ominously.

We'd love to go bowling with a newfound best friend because we just had a baby and need to get out. We'd like a "small male puppy," but can't afford one and must enlist your help. (We promise: "The puppy would be treated like a king!") We'd enjoy hanging out while you give birth, because we're a midwife-in-training with tons of questions.

We want to discuss Gaithersburg real estate and get paid to groom your birds and invite you to the Ark Olympics at Trinity Reformed Baptist Church. We feel compelled to recommend hairdressers, dry cleaners and vets. We want to tell you about ourselves.

"I may look like a bouncer, but I'm a big teddy bear."

"I contracted herpes in my last relationship."

"I'm no daddy war bucks."

We want to know why. "If it wasn't about sex, what was it about? Love? Teaching me a lesson? Why do i feel like you can see right through me"?

We want your advice on adopting a stepdaughter or building a coral reef. We'll gladly remove spells or care for your terminally ill dog.

We want to mention that we possess a stuffed juvenile jaguar. Trades we'll consider: jet skis, fine jewelry, a business lease for a comic book store, professional piano lessons.

We want a neutral modern sectional sofa, and answers to the big questions:

"I'm not sure who or what I believe in - but there's something there. Something bigger than me - I'm a part of something truly grand ... I just can't put my finger on it yet."

Maybe it's Craigslist.

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