The XX Factor

My Encounter With the Creepy Craigslist Doctor

This morning Gawker linked to the best Craigslist ad ever , posted by a Dr. Emil Chynn , a surgical ophthalmologist whose Web site proudly proclaims that he is “the only laser surgeon in NYC who is a [Mensa] Certified Genius.” Dr. Chynn has an empty studio in his office building on Park Avenue, and he’ll let his personal assistant live there for free if she (has to be a she) is willing to walk on his back for an hour a day, troll to find him a girlfriend, and stock his office fridge with all her leftover food. Plus, if he marries the woman she helps him find, his immigrant parents will pay the assistant $10,000 in cash.

As Gawker acknowledges, this isn’t the first time that Dr. Chynn has offered up an unconventional living situation on Craiglist.  They don’t know this: Back in the spring of 2005, when I was doing a book-publishing internship and looking for summer housing, I responded to a Craigslist ad offering an insane deal on an entire floor of a townhouse in the West Village . The guy wrote back and said that before we could talk about the particulars, I had to send him a picture of myself. Alarm bells definitely went off, but I had already emotionally invested a little too hard in my fantasy West Village apartment and I wasn’t quite willing to let the dream die. I sent him a picture of myself standing in front of the Ljubljanica River in Slovenia, one that I thought made me look worldly, mature, and chaste. I got a response quickly, an enthusiastic e-mail explaining that the heavily subsidized rent would be in return for cooking, cleaning, and other unspecified favors. He never asked for sex outright, but the insinuation, I felt, was there. Shamed to have nearly fallen prey to a Craigslist creep, I never responded, and went on to spend the summer sleeping on a futon in the living room of a one-bedroom apartment in Kip’s Bay. I did, however, Google the guy’s e-mail address and was somewhat surprised to discover that he was a prominent eye doctor.

Dr. Chynn, it seems, has gotten a bit savvier about his Craigslist ads-this new one is far more descriptive and specific than the one I responded to, and the picture is optional. And to allay any confusion, Dr. Chynn makes sure to stress that he’s not asking for anything sexual: He’s just a regular doctor with multiple Ivy League degrees, inflexible hip flexors, lower-back stiffness, and no time to prepare his own food! Gawker says Chynn “seems sort of harmlessly creepy, and the voicemail he left us was very reasonable!” I have to say though, I’m still pretty skeeved out that Chynn extends his offer only to women (perhaps men are too heavy to walk on his back?) and by some of the language he uses: His assistant needs to have “good sense of style and fashion,” should get used to “taking orders,” and will have the occasional privilege of sunbathing at one of Chynn’s two beach houses. Perhaps most cryptically, Chynn says that “intake/outtake must be done simultaneously to the massage/stretch, or I won’t have time for either.” For all his Ivy League degrees and Mensa certifications, Dr. Chynn might learn to use his words more wisely.