Friday, February 6, 2009

Personal Ads From the Dark Side

I like writing unusual personal ads. You could say it has become sort of a hobby. My "Good Man Club" posts are examples of a serial personal ad I posted on craigslist over the course of a few days; it started out as a joke, and became sort of an ad hoc sociology experiment once the responses started pouring in. It's fascinating to see how people respond to ads that are outside the accepted pattern.

This is a selection of a few of the ones that I like the most. Keep in mind that I never post these with any personal information of any kind other than A/S/L. These are basically the entirety of the ads.



Awkward, self-conscious greeting, followed by a pointless disclaimer to the effect that I never know what to say in these things. Narrative describing what I hope are intriguing, mildly edgy but undemanding personal characteristics. Blatant attempt to create the impression that I am lovable, attentive and of generous disposition, possibly containing overly sentimental and creepy references to my mother. Rambling narrative liberally sprinkled with polysyllabic words used out of context, obviously meant to show that I am intelligent and well-educated despite numerous misspellings and the absence of any coherent ideas. Self-deprecatory comments intended to offset the possibility that the reader has perceived my disjointed self-description as arrogant or self-serving.

List of activities I enjoy, most of which are derived from other personal ads I have read, or have been directly cribbed from them. Activities I actually enjoy are downplayed if they are commonly associated with undesirable patterns of behavior, such as football, video games, watching porn, and drinking heavily. Special emphasis is placed on interests that, while pleasurable and generally considered romantic (such as long walks on the beach), will more than likely never take place, as I will always be too busy/tired/hung over to engage in them.

Optional reference to expensive personal possessions indicating a substantial income, but which are more likely to be responsible for an enormous credit card debt that I will avoid mentioning for as long as possible.

Final comments intended to be flirtatious and demonstrate my clever wit, but which are actually fairly offensive, and reveal the fact that I am completely oblivious to my total lack of sensitivity to other people's interpretations of my sad and contrived attempts at suggestive banter.

Am I doing this right?


Somewhere out there is a woman who cannot understand why she is still alone. She is smart, quirky and pretty, and her kindness and capacity for love have remained untouched, even though she knows full well how vulnerable this makes her. Although she’s been hurt, she is stronger for it. The pain she has felt as a result of her open, trusting nature, though it’s made her wary, hasn’t prevented her from being hopeful. Because she isn’t pretending to be anyone but who she really is, her first instinct is to expect anyone to be that way. She reads the personals with cautious optimism and a species of wry amusement, both because it’s come to this, and because she has learned to read the volumes written between every line. Men are so funny, she thinks. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

At this moment, her heart feels half asleep, which is good. Otherwise, she would have to confront the tiny, hollow emptiness there, a quiet ache that is not quite sadness. When she’s actively engaged in the activities of her life, it is there, an undercurrent of ambivalence so subtle and familiar that it is barely noticed. It doesn’t stop her from laughing, from being goofy and having fun, from pursuing her goals or appreciating the goodness of her life. It is just a soft voice that speaks at odd moments, whispering to her that something is missing. Sometimes, it makes her want to cry, this feeling of longing for a man she has not yet met.

Somewhere out there, she thinks, is a man who is a lot like me. A man with strength of character, who is gentle and compassionate, but who doesn’t back away from the truth, even when it hurts. He gives more than he takes, not because he is following a principle, but because that’s how he is built. He has risen to his challenges without becoming mired in bitterness or self-pity, and has not forgotten how to play and how to touch the world with the hands of a child.

The best parts of his character are easily discovered with a little curiosity; they are not flagrantly displayed. He does his best to shape his world instead of letting it shape him, and isn’t afraid of being wrong. He doesn’t try to be sexy, but just is, because he is honest and open and unafraid, and because he moves with confidence and grace… perhaps not classically handsome, but good-looking in an offbeat sort of way. He might be a musician, she thinks, or a poet or a writer. He’ll like to read.

She thinks this as she reads a book, stretched out comfortably on the couch. Suddenly, she looks up from the page, almost able to feel his leg thrown casually over hers, his bare foot resting against her hip as he reads his own book on the other end of the couch. She smiles, the corners of her mouth turning up for a bare instant.

He lives in her daydreams as a hand that reaches out to stroke her cheek, a smile from across a room, a cheerful but formidable adversary in intellectual discourse and pillow fights, a laughing voice and an expressive pair of eyes that reveal so clearly the spirit behind them. Mostly, he is a soul; the essence of a man who is her equal in every way, and whose intelligence and playful good nature act on her heart like a tuning fork resonating to its matching tone.

It is this note she is listening for, the voice of a soul that is in tune with her own. But how do you hear that voice, she wonders, in the space of a few words on a page? What he does, where he works, what music he enjoys, his pastimes, those things are important… but in another sense, they don’t really matter very much. The ads she reads say a lot about those things, but seem to say little about the substance of the men behind them. A connection between two people doesn’t exist in a vacuum; it requires a context to nurture and sustain it – but without the connection, what do the details matter? Sometimes it’s not alone what is said, but how it is said that reveals the deepest truth...


It's snowing again. I'm in my home studio adding some guitar tracks to a song I'm recording, watching through the window as the back yard turns white. I'm frustrated because the good music, the music that perfectly expresses the way I feel, can't seem to make it past some obstruction in my mind. I know what it is, this obstruction, but that doesn't make it go away. Sometimes, this thing inside helps the music come out, inspires the most poignant and expressive melodies, but tonight, it's just sitting there like a brick in the middle of my heart, plugging my creative wellspring at the source.

I'm lonely.

We're not supposed to say that, right? We're not supposed to be so honest, so vulnerable. We're supposed to say that we're completely happy with our lives, and that we just want someone to share that happiness with. I'll be the first to affirm that relationships don't make people happy. I've tried that before. But if everyone could be perfectly satisfied on their own, the race would die out within a single generation.

I would be a lot happier if I wasn't lonely.

Who am I looking for? It's so simple. Someone who knows how to live, how to love and be loved, someone with an open mind, and who doesn't just wait for life to happen to them. Someone with a sense of humor. Someone who can always appreciate the beauty in everything, even when things are so hard you just want to cry. Someone who has learned the value of simplicity. Someone who can feel so intensely that their emotions just brim over.

I'm looking out the window, and the snow falling through the darkness is beautiful. I'd love to take a walk in it, catching the flakes on my tongue. I will. And as I walk, I'll be imagining an enchantress with smiling eyes leaving her footprints alongside my own. I offer to catch her a snowflake, and she watches as I do so, opening my mouth for it to fall inside. She says, "Where's my snowflake?" and I tell her she has to kiss me to get it.

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant, man. Since when is it not obscene to understand human nature -- the pains, the fears, the longings, the hopes, the loves -- so deeply?