by | Feb 16, 1997 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

Here was the ad:

Cruel, nasty, neurotic, paranoid, antisocial but basically happy SWGF, 31, seeks same between 18-40 for miserable relationship.

Ah, love.

Our most important emotion comes in some pretty funny boxes these days. I know this, because last Friday, Valentine’s Day, I was moved to finally check out the personals section of this very newspaper, to see what passed for courtship in these “let’s do e-mail” times.

In the past, I have avoided the personals section because I felt I did not need it. Now, having read it, I know that there is something I need.

I need a dictionary.

I mean, how does anyone automatically know that SWGF means “single, white gay female” or that DBPSM means “divorced, black, professional, straight male”?

Where do they teach this stuff? Is there a manual? I got completely lost on one ad, when it read “WWF seeks attractive sweet-natured man.”

WWF? I thought that was the World Wrestling Federation. Only after finding the abbreviations key did I realize it meant “white widowed female”
— and that I was in the seniors section.

Oh, yes. There are sections. Lots of sections. There’s “Male Seeking Female” and “Female Seeking Male” and “Male Seeking Male” and “Female Seeking Female.”

Next comes “Human Seeking Alien,” “Mammal Seeking Canine” and “Reptile Seeking Amphibian” — presumably on some page I haven’t gotten to yet.

Writer seeking answers

Now, there are a few generalities I can make after an hour of intense study of the Personals section which left me crying out for simpler times, along with a bottle of Visine.

For one thing, women are more honest than men. Women- seeking-men get the tough stuff out right off the top. For example:

“Full-figured SWF seeks honest man for monogamous relationship . . . “

“Thick, curvaceous SBF seeks man . . . possible marriage . . . “

“Muslim, DBF seeks God-fearing honest BM . . . “

You get the idea. These women are saying, “Hey, you don’t want surprises, I don’t want surprises, let’s get this out in the open.”

The men, on the other hand, all seem to be tall, gorgeous, unlucky studs who just can’t seem to find a date. The following are real ads:

“Athletic, handsome, tall, rich, SWM, seeks slim, pretty SWF . . . “

“All-American Male with a feminine touch, good-looking, 6′ . . .

“Gorgeous, assertive, athletic, SWM, 5’11, seeks fit SWF, preferably a model or a dancer . . . ”

Hmm. You’d think Tom Cruise wouldn’t need to advertise in the paper.

Let the truth be known

Now, the basic idea of Personals ads is not a bad one, since anyone who has been fixed up on a blind date knows the horrors of exaggeration.

“Oh, you’ll love her! She’s a cross between Barbara Hershey (actually Barbara Bush) and Kathy Ireland (Kathy Bates). Also, she has the cutest laugh
(like The Nanny) and she’s so talented (she reads Tarot cards.)”

In Personals ads, you can speak for yourself. You can be honest. But that’s the problem. Few people are.

I’m waiting for the ad that reads:

“SWM, likes football — and wants to be left alone while watching it — enjoys chips, beer, an occasional belch, dresses like Det. Columbo and is known to forget birthdays and anniversaries, seeks SWF who is gorgeous but farsighted, with patience of Mother Teresa and a sexual appetite that can be described in two words: not picky.”

When someone runs an ad like that, then we can start talking.

Otherwise, as near as I can tell, trying to find a Valentine in the Personals is like trying to buy a used car from a salesman who wears polyester

and says, “It’s your lucky day!”

Remember when Arlo Guthrie sang, “You can get anything you want, at Alice’s restaurant. . .”?

Alice must have been SWF with a lot of newspapers.


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