Personally, You Suck
Some personal ads I would like to see:
grotesquely misshapen female
with prominent mustache,
45, 5 foot 2, 400 pounds,
wrinkled leathery skin from
lifetime pack-a-day smoking habit,
seeks wealthy, handsome, well-endowed man
for hot times and romance.
Must be at least 6 feet tall.
No comb-overs or hairy backs please."
"Misanthropic female recluse, 37,
enjoys watching tv all day and night
with the blinds drawn.
I share a small, dingy room,
which I have not ventured out of
for the last three years,
with a colony of large spiders
and a family of mice.
Looking for a man,
any age or physical condition,
to come over and service me
and then leave!"
"Slender, stick-like woman, 28,
enjoys starving herself
and neuroticaly obsessing
over her weight and appearance.
Endlessly staring at my reflection in the mirror
keeps me quite busy,
but would like to make time for a relationship
with a sensitive, caring man
who will support my various
eating and body image disorders.
If you take me out and buy me dinner,
I will probably stick my finger down my throat
in the ladies' room and puke it all back up."
I did the personals once...
In three or four years
of reading, writing and answering personal ads,
the word "attractive" came to lose all meaning.
I suppose male gorillas and orangutans
find female gorillas and orangutans attractive.
It's all relative.
Likewise, the word "fun"
became a strange attractor,
an indeterminate particle
flitting about with no fixed location.
The problem with fun
is that your idea of fun
may not be my idea of fun.
You might enjoy having red-hot six inch needles
pushed slowly through your nipples,
Or a day at the city dump,
sitting on piles of soiled diapers
and used hypodermics,
shooting at rats with a Smith & Wesson
might be your cup of tea.
Or perhaps creating
historically accurate sculptures
of dead presidents
from hair sweepings, toenail clippings,
menstrual blood and ear wax
is, for you, an afternoon well spent.
As I said, it's all relative.
An outsider doing
a sociological study of our culture
based on personal ads
might come to the conclusion
that going out to dinner
and relaxing at home with a movie
are the most exciting, fulfilling activities
that a woman could hope for,
and that once she had achieved these goals,
she could go to her grave
happy and secure in the knowledge
that she had led a rich, full life.
As Kurt Vonnegut once said,
and so on...
My first blind date from a personal ad
was about as awkward as an ethnic joke
at a tolerance rally,
or catching a venereal disease
from someone who told you they were a virgin.
I met my date at a restaurant
feeling like a dinner guest
caught with the silverware
falling out of his pockets.
We sat and ate with our tongues
drooping into our food,
and blah blah blah blah blah.
And the date limped lamely forward
like a dog who had chewed off a leg
to escape a bear trap,
hobbling along and dragging
the bloody stump behind itself.
Words were farted out of our mouths
like a child's string of soap bubbles
popping in the air.
We may as well have been
sending each other smoke signals
with our napkins and the steam
coming off our plates.
Personal ad principle number one:
You will know within the first thirty seconds
of laying eyes on each other
whether or not there will be "chemistry."
Our parting banalities contained an undercurrent
of disappointment and embarrassment
that threatened to suck all the air out of the room.
Wow! That was fun.
I think I'll do it again.
Blind date number two
had a sexy telephone voice
that my mind connected
to a picture of slinky sensuality,
like a preschool barnyard-sound match-up game.
When I asked her to describe herself,
the only information offered
was the color of her hair and eyes.
This was a red flag that had grown a mouth
and was screaming in my face,
but being the neophyte that I was,
I blithely ignored it.
Personal ad principle number two:
Always get a photo first.
This is imperative.
Otherwise, you will find yourself, as I did,
out on a date with a walrus in a wig and lipstick.
I was literally unable to speak
for a good five minutes
when greeted by what looked like the monster bride
Dr. Frankenstein might have created
if the only material available to him
came from a liposuction clinic.
Personal ad principle number three:
Sometimes you will be rejected
and sometimes you will have to do the rejecting.
Neither one is pleasant.
And I got as good as I gave
on the many occasions
when my wolf-that-ate-the-canary smile
was disarmed by a falling face
that told me I was not
what my date had expected.
Personal ad principle number four:
Women communicate in a subtler manner than men,
so listen carefully to what they're saying
in between the lines.
For example, if a woman tells you,
within the first five minutes of meeting her,
"I knew my ex-boyfriend was the one for me
the minute I saw him,"
or "I've never slept with a guy
I didn't really really love,"
it's a good bet that you're probably
not going to get laid that evening.
My next blind date was nervous and jumpy
and wanted to get off the street
as quickly as possible.
I thought maybe she was being hunted by the mob,
or had just broken out of prison
and was on the lam.
She took us to a trendy coffeehouse
with the ambience of an operating theatre.
Everything was painted white
like someone's conception of heaven
in a bad low-budget art film.
Glaring bright lights were trained on us
from every angle, making the room shadowless,
and I half expected a giant tweezers and scalpel
to descend from the ceiling
and begin to dissect us.
My date was pretty and personable,
but her eyes bugged out of her head
like a cartoon character squeezed by the neck,
and her hands shook
like a hundred-year-old parkinson's patient,
spilling coffee all over
the pristine white tablecloth.
Her sweaty, palsied skittishness and the
dentist's chair deer-in-the-headlights brightness
combined to make me quite nervous as well,
and the anxiety level rose between us
like a thermometer in the devil's rear end.
After twenty minutes
of blinking, stuttering conversation
about her angry ex-husband in the army,
she excused herself,
saying she did not feel well,
and ran from the coffeehouse
as if her hair had caught fire,
leaving me feeling as if I had just witnessed
a particularly gruesome freeway accident,
and the cop in my head was asking questions
but I was too much in shock
to remember the details.
Personal ad principle number five:
Your date may arrive with what's known as "baggage."
If she spends two and a half hours
talking about her acne-scarred
who went crazy from steroid abuse,
eating the stuffing out of the sofa
and drowning the cat,
or her hillbilly grave-digger ex-boyfriend
who spent all their money
on phone sex and prostitutes,
it's safe to say that she has "baggage"
and the chances of a meaningful relationship
developing any time soon are slim.
Some other highlights of my personal ad experience:
The pregnant artist's model with glasses so thick
her eyes looked like the dots on a smiley face,
and hair that appeared to be cut at home
with an electric blender,
who spent an entire afternoon
in a diner full of flies and wilted lettuce,
verbally assaulting me
with seamy, graphically explicit descriptions
of her numerous drunken sexual encounters
delivered in the linguistic style
of a veteran streetwalker.
The black woman with an afro
like a spoiled bunch of broccoli slept on by a wino,
and an ass that appeared to have lost all muscle tone,
her cheeks flapping about in her pants
like a pair of elephant ears,
who entertained me,
the way one is morbidly entertained by lurid tabloids,
with tales of her pathetically lame
West Philly junkie friends,
peeing in the punchbowl at swanky dinner parties,
like the three stooges as drug addicts
cavorting through a William Burroughs novel.
The strange retro-mannequin woman
who could have passed for the father
in a 1950s tv sitcom
if you stuck a lighted pipe in her mouth,
with a marginally female body
as un-curvy as a nine-year-old boy
and only a slight bump in the pectoral area
to tip me off as to her gender,
who told me stories of her exotic travels
to New Jersey as the trombone player
in a punk rock dixieland band
...or something like that.
And of course,
the numerous times I was stood up,
which is like somebody slapping you in the face
for staring at them
while they were puking on your shoes.
And then there was the woman
who answered my ad three times,
not realizing I was the same person,
declining to meet me each time
because she found my interest
in holistic medicine too "weird,"
even though she kept her dead cat
in her freezer for five years
and took baths in her bathing suit
because she was convinced her neighbors
were watching her through a hole in the wall.
Personal ad principle number six:
Finding someone you jive with through the personals
is like searching for a needle
in a pile of manure.
And then I met my second ex-wife
through a personal ad.
And so on...