All the Good Ones Are Fakin'

My day job is writing for television, mostly action-adventure and cop shows. I make heroes heroic. Our stars are the kind of men who run into a burning building, not away from it. Their muscles come from carrying women into the bedroom and children on their shoulders. They can dish out punishment and take a punch with equal grace. They are smart, funny, agile, brave. They are Men with a capital M... or, at least, that's how we want the viewers to see them.

In real life, of course, they are guys who wear make-up. Costume ladies dress them up like oversized dolls. They get manicures and pedicures, and if they're over 40 they tint their hair. Their muscle comes from the ministrations of a personal trainer, and they spend a lot of energy on blemish control. They know their way around a day spa, and God forbid they take a real punch in the face because they have $40,000 invested in those veneers.

I don't say this to put anyone down. Hair and make-up are simply part of the job description. But the fact is that the actual life of an action hero -- gay, straight or indifferent -- is hyper-feminine. The machismo your boyfriend aspires to is a façade. The handsome he-man you desire doesn't exist, and never has.

And yet even people who should know better continue to fall in love with the character, and wind up stuck with the performer. The list of producers who have married their leading ladies would take up the rest of this post, and if there were more women in positions of power in Hollywood, there would be more actors married to them.

Which brings me to Valentine's Day, to online dating, to scammers and the fine art of cat fishing. I don't know if it's my demographic -- we're supposed to be desperate, us poor women over 50, and own cats -- but I get so annoyed with the number of fakes who contact me online. Those effusive, romantic, flattering, fakes. I bet you've gotten a message or two from a smiling, warm-eyed men who "will love to know you better." I used to be a copy editor; I can spot a non-native English speaker a mile off. And those great pics you posted? Google Image Search, dude. You can't fool me.

But, bless your heart, a part of me wants you to fool me. Your phony pictures are so much more handsome than the car-seat selfies your balding, blemished competition posts. And you're so darned available. You are loving, and lonely, and you want nothing more than to find your soulmate. The fantasy is so much more attractive than the reality. Given a choice, many of us will go for the fantasy. A sex and love addict will invariably choose the fantasy. We're hard-wired for it.

This is why women all over the world are taken for small fortunes by six-foot-tall widowers from large American cities who are actually 20-something computer hackers in a boiler room in Nigeria, or Slovenia, or Malaysia. They want the fantasy, and they will accept as much denial as necessary to maintain it. Just like the man with the Russian porn-bot "girlfriend..." or the executive producer who resolutely ignores the fact that, despite what she portrays onscreen, his wife can't actually solve crimes. Or cook. Or spell.