Finding yourself single after the dissolution of a marriage or the death of a spouse is bewildering, at best.
The loneliness and grieving can be nearly unbearable, and emerging from that into some kind of social scene is, well, a lot worse than high school ever was.
Trying to find the right place to meet appropriate potential partners is no less challenging. You hear all kinds of suggestions, from health club to Laundromat, and all of that’s problematic. These days, as a male, I’d look at a yoga studio, just saying …
Another of the complications is the fact – well, it was a quarter-century ago – that the available women were concentrated within the bigger cities, while the corresponding men were an hour or more away, beyond the suburbs.
In the time since then, a number of online dating sites have appeared, and I’ll let others relate their adventures and successes or failures.
But when I was available, the personals ads began to flourish. Out of necessity, I suppose. They even had their own free booklets, like TV listings.
Coincidentally, around the time I remarried, there was a blowup at my newspaper when the publisher went livid over a personals ad where one hopeful had described himself in opposite terms to the usual cliches. (He touted himself as fat, lazy, unemployed, and the like, as I recall.) It was enough to get me and now-elder stepdaughter (and fellow writer) to start reading the Boston Sunday Globe’s more varied ads for insights in the ways people perceived themselves or tried to portray their desires. Usually, they churned out short resumes full of contradictions or things only others could adjudge. “Beautiful” or “handsome” was common, usually preceded by “very,” but that’s something purely for the viewer to decide, thank you.
At any rate, a few entries would stand above the crowd.
One, for instance, described herself as a “Land’s-End kind of gal,” and you really do get a good sense of her in those five words. (We gave her ad a B+ or A-.)
The all-time winner, though, was along these lines: “Happy blue-eyed plumber in search of articulate, well-poised woman to bring (something) into my life. Children a plus.”
He alone could say if he was happy, and “blue-eyed” certainly told the reader about looks. “Plumber,” meanwhile, indicated responsibility and economic status. As for children? Few novelists deliver as much with such economy.
The ad, we noticed, ran just once.