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On Nov. 22, G. Keith Harris posted a man seeking woman ad on Craigslist that read, “Please respond with pic and email and phone.” The ad had no information about Harris, besides his age (35), city (Centreville), and photograph (smiling, in a suit).
Typically, an ad like this would disappear into the Internet ether of m4w personals, several hundred of which are posted in the Washington, D.C., metro area each day. But Harris, CEO of Harris Consulting Group, an information technology government consulting firm, holds this year’s personals trump card: He’s got two tickets to the inauguration, and an all-access pass to the night’s balls and off-shoot parties. Packages like that are being auctioned on eBay for upward of $7,000. A date with Harris is free—-and hard to come by.
One week after posting the ad, Harris had received messages from 720 willing women. He’s yet to find one worthy of a response. Interested parties may contact Harris at email@example.com. Below, how to draft an e-mail that might catch Harris’ eye.
COVER THE BASICS. Interested inauguration dates must include a method of contact, be between the ages of 25 and 39, and be comfortable in ball gowns. Race is unimportant, but applicants must have “weight in proportion to height.”
INCLUDE A PHOTO. Forty-five percent of respondents to Harris’ ad haven’t included a photo. “That’s the first criteria,” says Harris, who adds that the requirement is more than simple vanity. With all the high profile parties to attend on Inauguration Day, Harris’ date “needs to be someone who doesn’t mind being photographed,” he says—-“or being in the company of celebrities.” An additional 40 percent of respondents committed a similar gaffe: stating they didn’t even know how to attach a photograph to an e-mail. “Given the high volume of responses, I do not have time to teach someone how to do that, in this day and age,” says Harris.
BE MORE THAN THAT PHOTO. “Naturally, we’re all looking for someone that looks nice,” admits Harris. “But I was raised in a manner where beauty is only skin deep.” So while some with tickets to the Jan. 20 festivities are looking only for inaugural arm candy, Harris says he wants a date who will stay interesting “beyond the inauguration.” That means presenting yourself as “honest, caring, respectful, intelligent, fashionable, and a good conversationalist.” Harris also needs a woman who will be comfortable slipping out of that ball gown and donning “sweat socks and sweatshirt and jeans so we can just relax and cuddle around the fire.” Having nice legs doesn’t hurt, either. “Every man has one weakness,” says Harris. “Legs are my Achilles heel.”
PICK A TEAM NAME. ANY TEAM NAME. If you make it to the post-e-mail selection round—-a cup of coffee—-here are some tips to get the conversation rolling. Harris enjoys international travel, current events, and sports. All of them. “When it comes down to sitting down and watching them, I love all sports,” says Harris. “I can’t say I really have a favorite team,” he says—-though an old allegiance to the Giants may still hold some weight.
DON’T ASK FOR TOO MUCH. Of the 15 percent of respondents who passed the photo hurdle, Harris says he’s heard from many suitable dates that meet his criteria. So far, those women don’t live in the area—-and are expecting Harris to pay for transport. He won’t.
NO HATERS. Obama’s will be the first inauguration to which Harris will have the chance to invite a date, but he says the tickets came to him by “being in the right place at the right time,” not politics. Harris keeps his own views “close to the vest”—-accordingly, potential dates need not have voted for the president-elect to get on Harris’ ticket. “But naturally, I would not want to be with a person who is a ‘hater’ of the person we’re celebrating,” he adds. “That would prove to be very uncomfortable.”
DROP SOME PORTUGUESE. Harris is currently studying the language to help maximize his annual trips to Brazil’s Carnival. Harris says he holds a penthouse apartment on Copacabana beach, which he makes use of during the festivities each February. Harris says that willing inaugural dates may soon become Brazilian penthouse guests. “I’m going alone to Brazil,” he says. “I would love to have this date, if the friendship matures to that level, accompany me on my travels.”
BE SENSITIVE. Harris is mending a broken heart—-his ex-girlfriend recently broke up with him, three weeks before Thanksgiving and two months before the inauguration. “I wish I could take a pill to make the pain go away,” says Harris, who says the new flood of interested women is a big shift from his last missive with his ex. “She broke up with me via e-mail,” he says.