"What do you know about social networking?" the Boss murmurs quietly one morning, as I'm putting the finishing touches on my espresso.
"You mean social networking as in 'I and a group of mates would like to be able to publish our outrageous drinking activities'? Or 'The wife and I have recently separated and I'm looking to pull the first bird that'll show any cursory interest in me'?"
"I'm really just looking for a way to meet up with people and catch up with some old school chums."
"So the second option then..."
"Where's the missus?"
"I... she... we..."
"Left, took the house, car and all the mates?"
"Half the house," the Boss sniffs. "And I had a bit of cash in Jersey, so I'm really..."
"...just wanting to start a whole new life, new town, new job, new mates?" I ask hopefully.
"No, no, I just thought I'd like to meet a few people."
"I... yes," he admits grudgingly.
"Well you've come to the right place. No one knows iStalking like a geek. So what are you looking for? 50+, no kids, morally casual attitude?"
"I... maybe 30s, attractive, blonde."
"Good for you! Shoot for the impossible! OK, so do you have a Facebook or MySpace profile?"
"Uh, not yet, no."
"Well for that I think I should put you onto the PFY, as he's got a stack of them."
"Oh yeah, he's Lord Peter someone - the 5th Earl of somewhere or other, Jerry somebody - a parking warden from Hull, Sharon - an ad agent in Luton, Candice - a trollop from London and several others."
"It's all about bait. He'll meet someone as Candice or Lord Peter and use her/him to introduce all the other personalities, finally organising a date as Jerry."
"But who wants to meet a traffic warden?"
"No one, but that's the beauty of it. When the woman finds out he's not really a traffic warden, the surge of relief makes them overcompensate - especially after they've had three glasses of chardonnay."
"This really works?"
"Sure. Obviously all the real spade work is done by Candice and Sharon."
"Candice is the bait - a dirty slapper with the online persona of a Welsh prostitute - but without the leek fetish. She connects with feral blokes on the web and then through them meets women. Sharon then meets women through Candice and Lord Peter and talks up Jerry as a caring guy who's only been forced into the Traffic Warden game because he lost his job, but still wants to support the three kids in the third world that he sponsors."
"Admits - in person - that he's actually independently wealthy but pretends to be a traffic warden to weed out the gold diggers."
"And this really works?!"
"When was the last time you saw the PFY turn up anywhere without a date?"
"So how do I go about doing this then?"
"You'll need to talk to the PFY."
. . . Thirty minutes later . . .
"OK," the PFY says. "That's Jess the slapper created. Now add some low level royalty - nothing you'd find in Who's Who, then a... beauty therapist from... Nottingham and an ordinary bloke from Bristol."
"Because I think I've overloaded the Traffic Warden numbers and we need something to make you look like a loser."
>clickety< >tap<, etc
"OK," the Boss says. "They're all done."
"Right, fake a few open conversations between your personas, with nothing too risqué - except for Jess who'll be positively filthy. Make sure all the profiles are public, then wait to see who bites."
. . . The next day . . .
"Jess the slapper's got 47 invitations!" the Boss gasps.
"You bet!" the PFY says. "First off, reject all the women."
"Because they're blokes pretending to be women."
"That only leaves 17," the Boss whimpers sadly.
"17 men who probably know loads of women."
"Now accept all the 17 men, but only chat to one of them."
"Alright, but which one should I chat to?"
"THAT one," the PFY says decisively, pointing to a name on the screen.
"Why that one?"
"Because their general location is the city, so they're likely to know women here."
"I see. And what should I say?"
"You're Jess the slapper! Start off with a bit of gentle innuendo and work your way up - over a week or so - to complete muck talk when he responds. Accept all invitations from his women friends but make no introductions to your other personalities. If he responds with a bit of filth, increase your filth level accordingly."
"You're just establishing a profile. After a week or two we'll get your other fake personalities to start introducing themselves to all the women on your contacts list. A lot less suspicious."
"And you're sure this'll work?"
... A week later ...
"How's it going?" I ask the PFY.
"Fantastic!" the PFY responds. "He's already talking gyno to his new friend."
"So when do we..."
"Tell them that he's been filthing up the IT Director for the past week?" the PFY asks. "Not just yet as I think the Director's going to share some photos..."
"Right, so I should make a bit of room on the company home page?"