I picked up a copy of the local newspaper recently, because a headline caught my eye. Before recycling it, I flipped through the rest to read anything of interest.
Near the back was a page of personals: people looking for someone to date. I am always amused by such sections and what they reveal about people
(A guide to abbreviations is at the bottom.)
My first observation is that the ages of people placing personals seems to skew older than I used to see in such sections. I think that's probably because most of the young people have moved to online services. It also might relate to the average age of the newspaper's subscribers.
Most of the ads didn't say anything terribly unique. Everyone enjoys the beach, likes movies and dining out and is looking for a similar-minded person. Yawn.
When they specify qualities in a mate, they are usually looking for someone who's responsible or attractive. Sometimes both. This despite the fact that most of these advertisers do not describe themselves that way. But hey, you can dream.
Since these ads are so similar, the more creative ones stand out. My favorite was this:
Classic 1946 model (looks newer), sporty, stylish, exceptionally maintained, high-performance engine, requires premium fuel, minimal fine tuning. Mint condition, luxury throughout. Lost previous owner (Widower). Take a test-drive now!
Not only does this stand out in a sea of sameness, but he demonstrates he has a sense of humor and reveals some of his interests in an entertaining way. I wouldn't be surprised if his mailbox is crammed with prospective dates. Or perhaps auto mechanics.
Above it is ad that deserves an honorable mention for standing out:
Bicyclist seeking "bicyclette." SWM, 50+, seeks S/DWF, 40-60, to ride bikes together. Friends first, LTR possible.
At least he highlighted something other than the usual fare, and if he emphasizes something he truly enjoys, he's more likely to find someone else who does. I was amused by the phrase "ride bikes" together. It sounds like something a 12-year-old would say. Then again, I guess there's nothing wrong with being a child at heart.
One particular personal used an extended metaphor:
Love is friendship on fire. I have a burning desire to meet a romantic, honest, compassionate, affectionate, witty partner, which also describes me. Let's make it red hot. WM, 57.
At first I thought that the advertiser had neglected to mention what gender he preferred, but then I realized this ad was in the "Men Seeking Women" section. Can you really find a fiery relationship in the back of the local tabloid? Do such women read the classifieds? Maybe he ought to learn to salsa dance instead.
I noticed that men seem to be the only ones to mention their weight and their exact height. Is this because they're comfortable with themselves, or because they're particularly proud of their measurements? It does strike me a bit odd, though, when you see an ad for a man who's 5'3" and 210 pounds. Well, maybe it's 210 pounds worth of muscle.
I spotted interesting wording in a few, such as an ad placed by a SWM, 41, who says he is looking for a "possible relationship" with someone who "enjoys dining, dancing, movies, billiards, beaches, biking, tennis, outdoors and quiet times." Possible relationship, eh? There's usually a firmer level of commitment involved when you're giving somebody money to place an ad for you. Maybe his friends are making him place this ad. Or maybe that's his way of saying that, even if you meet all his requirements to a "T," he has a right of refusal.
He, however, probably has more of a chance than this individual:
Seeking brown sugar. SWM, 40, attractive, outgoing, romantic, seeks SBF, attractive, romantic, funny, outgoing, for possible relationship.
Hmm. So you think that's the way to pick up an African-American woman, huh? Good thing you're not sure about the relationship, because I doubt you're going to have many takers. I can't see too many self-respecting women jumping on that one, unless they misunderstand it: "Oooh! He wants some brown sugar! And I'm a baker!"
Women have their issues, too, as evidenced by this ad:
Be my traveling partner for life! Petite, SWF, 55+, seeking a SWM, 50-60, to travel by plane or car (and more) with you.
Sounds good, but "for life" is a little much to expect out of somebody who hasn't even met you yet. Don't you think? Hmm?
Women are often looking for a "Gentleman," which always seems to be capitalized. Some people, however, are lowering their expectations, as evidenced in this ad:
Female, blonde/blue, 5'2", looking for someone to go to movies, dinners, etc. Just looking for a normal Joe and hopefully he has a job.
This 5'2, eyes of blue, woman would probably also like it if he breathes oxygen and is not living with his mother.
I was amused by the number of people who bothered to specify "no drugs" in their ads. I would guess the people who read these classifieds to find dates are similar to the people who place them. It's not exactly a hook-up place for heads. If you're a responsible, attractive "Gentleman" who smokes a doobie every once in a while, keep walking, these ladies say.
I found this one rather amusing, due to the odd punctuation, but it's also a bit sad and desperate:
SWF ISO SWM. Tired of being alone, I know there is someone out there (who enjoys the same things as myself), just as lonely. Honest, caring, enjoy almost anything, average, 49.
In other words, any warm body can apply. After all, she likes almost anything. Must like average women who have no aptitude with the English language.
Some people couldn't care less if you have a job:
Vivacious, well-built, 52-year-old SWPF, romantic, semiretired, good cook, seeks a SWM, 50+ to live on love and moonlight. Life can be great with a special mate!
I'm sure the rhyme at the end will seal the deal. Either that or the sappy "love and moonlight" line. Guys love sappy stuff. <snicker> Maybe she'll find an old-fashioned crooner, and they can make beautiful music together.
One advertiser was apparently trying to confuse the reader:
Young White Lady, Single, 5', 54. Pick me. ISO White Male for someone special. Friendship.
Is she searching for herself or for a "friend"? Plus, is 54 really considered a "young lady"? If so, I'm an infant. I'm confused. Pick me.
One buckaroo seeks a similar-minded companion:
Cowgirl ride the high country of Colorado with retired deputy sheriff and life long horseman. Looking for a good retirement partner. Call me and I'll call you right back.
He didn't have enough money for a comma after "cowgirl," but he added "Call me and I'll call you right back" at the end? Seems to me he could have gotten a lot more mileage out of those 36 characters. I'd suggest, "Ride off into the sunset with me." This ad reminds me of the Boys Don't Cry song, "I Want to Be a Cowboy" that we used to love to play during junior high study hall.
Another interesting one:
Good-looking WM, smoker, drinker, no drugs, ISO attractive, nice-built, 60+. Grab the last quarter of life to enjoy yourself. You tried the rest now try maybe one of the best.
One of the best smokers and drinkers? Cool!
Here's one that's very verbose at the beginning but then falls apart at the end:
If you're tired of the phoniness and all the game players and interested in meeting someone who's interested in developing a LTR, here's go. Widower seeking attractive Woman.
This ad was placed by Animal from the Muppets. Go, go! Woman! Woman!
The one takeaway from this seems to be that placing a personals ad is no different from placing any other wanted ad. You need to use your words carefully in order to find applicants who suit your needs. If you do it right, you'll find a love match. If not, at least you might amuse people like me.
M=Male F=Female D=Divorced S=Single W=White B=Black n/s=nonsmoker n/d=nondrinker ISO=In Search Of LTR=Long-Term Relationship
There's a fine line between charming and desperate.