This smells like trouble

exso (as in “ex-significant-other”) is a site where you can rate and review ratings for ex-boyfriends or -girlfriends. Once you get past the disclaimer page that automatically appears when you visit the site, the main page shows three featured exes in a format not unlike product reviews in epinions. Each ex’s picture appears, followed by ratings of their looks, intelligence and bedroom skills on a scale of 1 to 10. These numerical ratings are followed by “pros and cons”, which are qualitative capsule reviews.

If the quick overviews aren’t cringeworthy enough for you, you can always read the detailed review, which gives you more biographical information (age, hometown, school, pet’s name and so on) as well as summaries by individual reviewers. A quick summary provides details such as how long the relationship lasted, who ended the relationship, whether the reviewer keeps contact with the ex, whteher they’re still friends and if there could be a reconcilation in the future. There’s also commentary, which seems to end up saying more about the reviewer than the ex being reviewed:

[Name deleted] is the perfect example of meeting someone at the wrong time and place. When we first met, in a bar, I told [she] some fabrications that would I later regret. After dating for a couple months I felt compelled to break up with her rather than own up to the truth. To this day I’m fairly certain that [she] is the sweetest woman alive. In the long run it would have never worked out because of our life paths. But things ended far too soon. Thanks for the smiles.

After reading a few reviews, you might want to check to see if you’ve been reviewed. Luckily, the main page has a handy search feature for just this purpose.

(I checked, and no, I’m not in the database. However, my track record — with the exception of that time where I dated these sisters simultaneously — is spotless. Hey, I was 19, and you’d have done it too. If you had any balls, that is.)

Sooner or later, someone who’s been reviewed in exso isn’t going to like what’s been written about them. exso allows an ex to protest a review. In order to assure you that this is a Very Serious Thing, the section of the site pertaining to these matters is called Arbitration, and each protest is given a case number. This must be serious — Judge Judy uses case numbers!

Let’s suppose I wrote a review of my worst ex ever, about whom I can truthfully say:

If there were a Million Bitch March, she could be counted as five people.

Naturally, since being a total bitch is like breathing to her, she is oblivious to her own bitchtasticosity and would file a protest. I would have five calendar days to respond to this challenge, and the possible outcomes are:

  • I could not respond at all. My review would be deleted.
  • I could respond and agree with her. “My dear sweet [bitch’s name deleted], your impassioned plea of ‘I am not a bitch’ has melted my heart and I do agree that you are not a bitch in the slightest.” Actually, the more likely scenario is “Hey, [bitch’s name deleted], I got the letter from your lawyer and feel that agreeing to withdraw my review is so much better than a costly and embarrassing lawsuit. Remind me to send you a card on Hitler’s birthday.” In either case, the review is deleted.
  • I could respond and stand by my review. “She is too a bitch!” The simple act of standing by my review sends a message to exso that gee, I’m so steadfast that I must be right, which means that the review remains.

It’s not so much arbitration as it is a test to see how stubborn you are.

For those who don’t feel like submitting a review, exso also has an electronic greeting card service. The greeting cards fall under two categories. There are cards for exes you miss, with messages like “my heart still glows for you”, “I still reach out for thoughts of you” and for maximum grovelling (or stalking), “the voices can go their separate ways, but the souls will always touch”. If you’d rather be petty than pathetic, the other series of cards is for you; they have messages like “BITCH (you don’t deserve any more words)”, “You told me you were giving me the key to your heart. But I had no idea you had so many copies” and “…your personality is not the only thing that can make me vomit. But it’s the first”. This service is free for a limited time, after which it’ll cost you $2.75 to waste your time and bandwidth.

exso knows the mind of the online American — privacy-conscious enough to enter their credit card number only on secure Web pages, yet ready to dish the dirt on their past relationships. The only good I can see coming from this service is that a good Law and Order or Sex and the City episode might get written around it.

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