This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
A few years ago, my deeply literate friend John Merritt guided me to a book titled They Call Me Naughty Lola: Personal Ads from the London Review of Books. It's a collection (edited by David Rose) of actual lonely hearts ads, but because the Brits never can resist the temptation to skewer a genre, these are personals with a difference.
Memo to Brits: Thank you! I love you! It's always a jolly good time with you guys!
Take this ad, for example: "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."
Or how about this one? "Shy, ugly man, fond of extended periods of self-pity, middle-aged, flatulent and overweight, seeks the impossible. Box no. 8623."
I'm also fond of the sentiment expressed here: "You are going to be alone this Christmas. That's because nobody likes you. I, however, will provide you with a basic meal and some pleasant company on the understanding that you do not criticize my collection of antique medical implements. Tidy man, 51. Size 9 slipper. Box no. 7314."
Females also join in the reindeer games. Here's one my faves. "Blah, blah, whatever. Indifferent woman. Go ahead and write. Box no. 3253. Like I care."
Well! After reading this book, I felt all inspired to write an ad of my own: "Passionate gardener, dedicated to growing one of everything that ever killed somebody in a classic English murder mystery, seeks green-thumbed partner in crime." But then (OH, OOPS) I remembered I'm married! To a guy I really, really like!
So. No personals for me … until right now. Are you ready? Because here goes.
"Brand new Tribune columnist seeks readers. YOU any age, any gender. Interested in the occasional anecdote, the occasional insight. Willing to settle for a (mildly) jolly good time. Everyone welcomed. ME middle-aged. Female. Born and bred in Utah with limited-run engagements in England, Finland and New York state. Casual mum of five sons. Lay-about reader of detective novels and kids' books. Semi-engaged watcher of sports. Non-winner of House Beautiful Awards. Sometime bookseller. Sometime teacher. Full-time writer. (At least that's the line I use to get out of doing stuff.) Often covered with random dog hair due to living in close proximity to large hairy dog. Box no. 1956."
Not that I want to be covered with random dog hair, but you know how it is. You check your clothes for random dog hair in the full-length mirror before leaving the house first thing in the morning, and you don't see any.
So then you spend your day full of false grooming confidence, going to work and buying groceries at Smith's and returning overdue books to the Avenues Branch Library, and then you accidentally look down at your black sweater and realize that yes! Actually, you ARE covered with random dog hair! Apparently the lighting in your bathroom Dude. It stinks. Maybe you should get up (bleh) and switch out a few bulbs …
But whatever. That's not the point. The point is this: Let's meet on Saturday mornings between sections "A" and "C" for a while and see how it goes, shall we?
And by all means, make like a Brit and keep your expectations low.
Ann Cannon can be reached at email@example.com.