eFaust eFoiled

The real reason you can't sell your soul on eBay: There's just no way to prove you can make good to the winning bidder.

Published February 25, 2000 4:14PM (EST)

Does the Prince of Darkness have Internet access? If not, maybe he should, 'cause it's a buyer's market in human souls out there. Well, at least if you're shopping on eBay. That's where the real bargains are, according to a story first reported yesterday by Inland Empire Online, a service of the Press Enterprise in Riverside, Calif.

Yep, for less than the cost of dining out -- a mere $20.50 -- Beelzebub could have snagged himself the soul of one Sterling Jones, 18, of Ontario, who put his mortal spirit on the auction block about a week ago. The offer stayed up until a couple of days ago when eBay pulled it off and sent Jones an e-mail which politely read, "Although you may not have been aware, eBay does not allow the auctioning of human souls."

According to eBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove, there's no proof Jones can make good to the winning bidder.

"This gentleman would have to make a pretty strong case to us that he could deliver his soul," Pursglove told Salon. "Now, assuming that he has a soul, we also have language in our user agreement that prohibits the sale of body parts. That's against U.S. law. If the soul exists, one would assume it is some way a part of the human body."

Hmmm. That's pretty metaphysical stuff for a service known for selling vintage Pez and celebrity tchotchkes. Apparently, Jones tried to get around the prohibition by marketing a piece of paper entitled "A Soul," but eBay put the kibosh on that as well.

"I can sell it -- they sell Bibles, don't they?" Jones asked in a sarcastic e-mail from the Great White North. "I don't believe in souls. I'm an atheist."

This latter-day Faustus/Bob McKenzie seemed ready to throw in the towel and call it a day. He wasn't concerned at all that he almost sold his essence for the price of a case of brew.

"I think it's funny, I really do," writes Jones, who says he's turned down interviews with ABC-TV. "Though, this media hype is scaring me."

Hey, man, it's not every day some student tries to score some schwag by pulling a stunt like this. Granted, he may not have meant any harm. But this kind of thing keeps the theologians in business, baby. (Not to mention the journalists.)

"Initially, we just thought it was somebody trying to do a restaging of 'Damn Yankees,'" quipped Pursglove.

When Salon attempted to contact Old Scratch for comment, the Monarch of Hell was too busy day-trading and updating various porn sites to speak to us. But a spokesperson for Lucifer said their boss was delighted by this latest commercial use for the Internet. Indeed, he could have gotten a better deal on George W.'s soul, for which he now believes he paid too much.

"It was a steal before McCain got in the race," said Hades' spokesperson on condition of anonymity. "As for the senator from Arizona, well, some folks just can't be bought."

By Stephen Lemons

Stephen Lemons is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to Salon. He lives in Los Angeles.

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