Truth in Advertising
Never in my checkered dating career have I considered taking out a personal ad, not necessarily because it would make me feel like a moron (although it would), but because I hate taking walks on the beach.
Enjoying walks on the beach is a prerequisite to taking out a personal ad. It’s more important than having a pulse. It is so relentlessly de rigueur that to take out a personal ad without making reference to walking on the beach is tantamount to advertising a loathsome social disease.
So when I went down to the sunny shores of Lake Calhoun a few days ago, I expected to see vast legions of gooey single types squishing their way blissfully up and down the beach, carpeting the sand like mating water beetles, doggedly pursuing their absolute favorite activity.
Instead, there was a guy shambling around with a metal detector. Apparently, the old walk-on-the-beach ploy had seen its day.
Actually, all that beach stuff is code. In fact, everything in a personal ad is code, since it’s an intellectual and, probably, moral impossibility for single people who have never met to tell each other the truth, particularly in print. Not that the personals are one enormous tissue of lies. Deciphered, they scream with honesty. For instance:
“…loves the outdoors.” Men who say this about themselves mean they want a woman who won’t mind if they disappear for days at a time on Budweiser-binge fishing and hunting trips with they guys and come home covered with fish scales and reeking of elk sinew. In women, this indicates a passion for walks on the beach.
“…sports enthusiast.” In the “men seeking women” column, this means the kind of sports that can be enjoyed in a Barca Lounger. If the phrase appears in a woman’s ad, it means she is probably looking for kick-ass “Jo” from The Facts of Life.
“…appreciates the finer things in life.” And wants somebody else to pony up for them. Can apply to all sexual orientations.
“…seeking generous…” The “finer things” gambit to the power 10.
“…sensitive.” In a guy, this is either pure crapola or it means he lives with Mom and owns a sundress. Women who use this are about as gritty as Emily Dickinson and look like Virginia Wolf.
“…adventurous.” Wears lots of leather and genital jewelry. Has charge account at the local tattoo parlor. Has knot-tying merit badge framed on the bedroom wall. Has a subscription to Chicks With Dicks magazine.
“…honest.” Men who say this are lying. Women who do are warning you that their legs may be laughed at during walks on the beach.
“…successful.” In female ads: bitchy with acrylic nails. In male ads: should in many cases be preceded by “Hope someday to be…”
“…casual.” Men: Can’t tie a tie. Women: Doesn’t own a razor.
Yes, in this age of flinty honesty, the euphemism remains alive and rigorous. And, so firmly are these dopey buzzwords lodged in the collective consciousness of the single-and-seeking types, a fully truthful ad might jolt the entire industry off its axis. Something, say, such as this:
“Troll-like fifty-something, humorless autocrat with irritating facial tic and chronic kidney stones who lies about her age, into abusing waiters, high cholesterol, The Singing Nuns and shopping at gay garage sales. If you’re out of jail, into Jerry Lewis movies, tractor pulls, and Old Country Buffet, and moonlight from your job at the gym as Christina Bale’s body double, meet me at Lake Calhoun this Saturday for a walk on the beach. Consider the source here but please bring your own metal detector.”
Bye for now.