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By Cheryl Mullen - 09/24/2008 - 08:38 PM EDT

Every so often I like to browse through the self-help/pop-psychology section of the bookstore. Not necessarily because I think I need the help, but because I spent my childhood on a farm and I occasionally find myself homesick for the smell of manure.

I also find a particularly pungent aroma wafting from the how-to-land-a-man books—you know, the ones that prey on the insecurities of unmarried women everywhere and subversively chip away at the self-esteem of anyone not in possession of a recently-used vagina. Some of these books actually encourage women to come up with a checklist of traits they seek in a man to aid them in their search—as if shopping for a man were like shopping for shoes.

Granted, I can grasp the importance of knowing what you want and don’t want in a relationship, and of understanding that pursuing a potential partner whose wants and needs do not line up with yours is probably not worth the inevitable pain and heartbreak it will cause. If you are determined to have children, there is little point in hooking up with someone who is determined not to, and vice versa. If you have your heart set on marrying a wealthy person who can take care of you financially, you probably don’t want to marry a teacher. And if you want to be with someone who will be home in time for dinner and who will consistently make time for family, you probably don’t want to be with a surgeon who is frequently on-call. But turning the search for a lifemate to a simple grocery list reduces romance to a cut-and-dried business transaction. There’s just something very cheap and superficial about it.

However, the checklist concept does have me thinking about the importance of compatibility in a relationship. And since I am an insatiable music freak, that got me thinking about musical compatibility. Just how important is it? Is it possible for an indie-lover to find love with an “American Idol” addict? Does the possession of season tickets to the Met constitute a deal-breaker for the average heavy metal fan? I’m sure that people have met and hooked up over music, but do people actually break up over it? Are there such things as musical “dealbreakers”? Should there be? And for the people desperate enough to create checklists for themselves, what place does musical preference hold in these checklists?

With all this in mind I present to you, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, my musical compatibility checklist. Eligible males are encouraged to read below and see how many listed traits you actually possess. The rest of you are encouraged to read and have a good laugh. And if there’s any eligible, financially stable male out there who can say yes to everything on my list, email me at the address at the end of my column. I want to hear from you.

*You have traveled more than 2 hours to attend a concert—and it was WORTH IT!

*You have planned vacations around concerts.

*You have seen any artist perform live more than 10 times. NOTE: The Pussycat Dolls don’t count. That might be great burlesque (no, make that mediocre burlesque), but it ain’t great music.

*You respect Bruce Springsteen and have nothing against him, but for the life of you, you just can’t understand what the fuss is all about.

*Your CD collection, if laid end-to-end, would probably circumnavigate the island of Manhattan at least once. Maybe twice.

*The majority of CDs in your collection are from artists who don’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of being played on commercial radio.

*You still buy CDs.

*You listen to commercial radio out of desperation or not at all.

*You are a regular supporter of your local public radio station. NOTE: This is waived for the poor unfortunate souls who don’t have access to public radio.

*You would rather rinse out Amy Winehouse’s lingerie by hand than be forced to watch an episode of “American Idol”.

*You have a musical “Guilty Pleasure”—an artist whom your friends have mocked you mercilessly for following, but you haven’t allowed the mocking to deter you. For the record, Rick Springfield is my Guilty Pleasure. I’ll tolerate yours if you tolerate mine.

*Dave Matthews—See Bruce Springsteen above.

*You believe that there is a special place reserved in hell for concert venues that employ bathroom attendants. I don’t know if this is universal or if it’s just a NYC thing. You walk into the bathroom and there’s a person standing there in a black and white uniform, usually accompanied by a colossal spread of gum, mints, and hand lotion on the sink counter. After you do your thing and attempt to wash your hands, the attendant squirts the soap for you and hands you a paper towel, then pushes you to partake of the gum and mints and such. Then you’re expected to tip the attendant. The attendants are a wee bit desperate for tips because that’s the only compensation they get. They are not paid a wage. While I feel sorry for these people, I haven’t needed anyone to help me wash my hands since I was about five and I find the whole practice to be rather annoying. I’ve been known to cross my legs for an entire show just to avoid them.

*You watch the Grammys with the same gruesome fascination as you would watch a bad car accident: It’s sickening, but somehow you just can’t turn away.

*You viewed the cancellation of “Love Monkey” to be a gross miscarriage of justice.

*Sean, Barry, Deke, Wes, Stack, Samrat—no last names necessary.

*Sheryl Crow—See Bruce Springsteen above.

*You’d be willing to take me to a Nick Lowe concert for our honeymoon—in the UK!

*You actually understood both of the musical references in the title of this column without having to Google them.

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