You’ve been asked on a date. You are pumped. Semi-apprehensive, but all-in-all psyched about the prospect. One glitch: you only know the person in question as “hot shaggy-haired dude from Starbucks” and you need the skinny on John Doe, stat. Sidestep Magnum P.I. and pull a chair up to your PC. It’s Googling time.

FYI: Repeat, this is not stalking. Googling is kinda like a criminal background check without all the paperwork.

Step One: Type in said beau’s name, first and last preferably.

No last name? Simmer down, just type in their place of employment. Don’t know it? Try hometown. No? Kickball league? Blood type? OK, stop.

Step Two: Check out results.

Well, look at the link that popped up. Homeboy just happens to be an active member of, an internet forum touted as a “great place for magicians to chat!” No kidding. Scroll down and see he’s posted a question:

“Hello fellow magic makers, I’m looking for a book on ventriloquism, any suggestions? Cheers, Merlin.”

Step Three: Analyze Results.

Hello, freak flag! You may be bugging, but just slow down the judgments for one second. Here’s a guy working on a skill many the world over have tried to achieve. The man can talk with his mouth closed, or at least he’s attempting to learn. Most men won’t even talk when their mouths are open. So already he’s got that going for him. Sure his screen name is Merlin, so what? You’ve only reread the Harry Potter series what, five times in a row now? You’re not so innocent yourself, “Hermione.”

Step Four: Use results to your advantage.

On the date, casually mention the fascinating puppet act you caught on PBS last week. His ears will perk. Smile, give a sigh and add, “I’ve always found the whole ventriloquist thing incredibly sexy.” Done and done. Let it be love.

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