Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Personal ads as bizarre, endearing art

We all know the British produce great literature. They go on and on about it all day long, bragging rudely about their Shakespeares and Byrons and Waughs et cetera, et cetera. So it shouldn't be any sort of surprise to learn that they do personal ads a whole lot better than their pen-wielding American counterparts too. For eight years now, the London Review of Books (LRB) has been publishing some of the most amusing, bizarre, frightening and all-around endearing personal ads ever to stir a lonely heart. David Rose, editor of the LRB personals, recently published a compendium of the most memorable missives titled They Call Me Naughty Lola: Personal Ads from the London Review of Books. The tiny tome is the perfect book to slip into your pocket some Sunday afternoon and read under a tree, laughing at (and with) some intensely creative and compulsively honest single folk.

I wrote a story about Rose and these personal ads a good six or seven years ago, so I'll admit I'm a bit biased about this book, but honestly, there's something sweetly charming about reading personal ads that are so carefully drawn. There's no "buxom woman, 22, seeks George Clooney look-alike..." nor any "tall, single man looking for hot love with gullible blonde, 18 to 23." That's all just so dull. Wouldn't you rather read an ad from a man "on the look-out for a contortionist who plays the trumpet," as the very first ad declared. After reading all these ads, I have a hard time understanding why most of these folks are single -- should people this creative really be going to Die Hard 4 by themselves? I think not.

Anyway, here are just a few of the gems you'll find within the pages of They Call Me Lola. Enjoy:

"I'd like to dedicate this advert to my mother (difficult cow, 65) who is responsible for me still being single at 36. Man. 36. single. Held at home by years of subtle emotional abuse and at least 19 fake heart attacks. Box no. 6207."

"Writing this advert has given the biggest sense of accomplishment I've felt since successfully ironing my trousers (14 June 1998). Man, 37. Box no 2473."

"Bald, short, fat and ugly male, 53, seeks short-sighted woman with tremendous sexual appetite. Box no. 9612."

"I'm just a girl who can't say 'no' (or 'anaesthetist'). Lisping Rodgers and Hammerstein fan, female lecturer in politics (37) WLTM man to 40 for thome ethanted eveningth. Box no. 2498."

"Blah, blah, whatever. Indifferent woman. Go ahead and write. Box no. 3253. Like I care."

"God appeared to me in a dream last night and spoke your name in my ear. He gave me the winning lottery numbers, too, though, so you can understand where my priorities lay when I raced to grab a notebook and pen. Man, 37, living on hope and the next seven weeks' bonus balls seeks woman whose first name begins with S, or maybe F, and rhymes with chicken, and has a surname that's either a place in Shropshire or the title of a 1979 Earth, Wind and Fire track. Shicken Boogiewonderland, I know you'e reading this. Write now to box no. 5279."

I kinda want to marry them all. I'll just settle for giving you this link to an NPR story from last year.


Anonymous said...

Absolutely hilarious!

Must have this book..


Corenn said...

Okay, I must have that book.

It reminds me of some of the more creative Craigslist posts I've seen for free things. The sad thing is that those gems are so few and far between - why aren't people having more fun in life?

Thanks for the rec!