She was an otherwise highly-sophisticated French businesswoman, inspired by the eternal guerrebetween the Gauls and the Anglo Saxons to an analysis of Britain somewhat left of rational. An entire civilized people degenerate?
To me, a simple American boy, born and bred a skinny river away from Manhattan, England is the Beatles. It’s Shakespeare, T.S. Eliot, Winston Churchill, Charlotte Rampling and Laurence Olivier. It’s Christmas Carol and Brideshead Revisited. It’s all those splendid accents, all those actors, all those skinny rockers with hair like Rod Stewart from the Do ya think I’m sexy period. Degenerate?
Peruse with me, if you will, these actual personals ads from the august and venerated London Review of Books. I REPEAT: these are are actual personal ads. In the rear pages of this ultra highbrow literary magazine, you will be thrust into a land of romantic advertisement far removed from the “I like roller skating, walks in the rain, and have a really great sense of humor” self-promotion of dewy-eyed, hope-addicted, childlike American relationship seekers, who in the face of all evidence are convinced true love is just around the corner.
What do we make of this ad from the London Review of Books?
To some, I am a world of temptation. To others, I’m just another cross-dressing pharmacist. Male, 41.
This ad is about as close as I come to meaningful interaction with other adults. Woman, 51. Not good at parties but tremendous breasts. Box no. 54326
I like my women the way I like my kebab. Found by surprise after a drunken night out, and covered in too much tahini. Before long I’ll have discarded you on the pavement of life, but until then you’re the perfect complement to a perfect evening. Man, 32.
Bald, fat, short, and ugly male, 53, seeks short-sighted woman with tremendous sexual appetite.
Blah blah, whatever. Indifferent woman. Go ahead and write. Box no. 3253. Like I care.
While you’re reading this, I’m taking a photograph of you from outside your window. Later today, I’ll put it in the scrapbook I’m compiling of our love. The heading will be ‘Day 1′. M, 46
This is how I wanted to seduce you – using meaningless words in a column of fools before a a theater of idiots. Write immediately and be upon me. F, 58
The ads go on in this vein, issue after issue. Of course, maybe it’s all a joke. Maybe the nation of Chaucer, Dickens and the Bard have simply invented a new, witty literary art form spun from the lonely hearts heavings of singles in search of company. Maybe it’s ingenious, not degenerate.
Either way, here’s some really good advice:
Attention male London Review of Books readers: ‘Greetings, earthling — I have come to infest your puny body with legions of my spawn’ is no way to begin a reply. Female, 36 — suspicious of any men declaring themselves to be in possession of a ‘great sense of humor.’
Oh by the way, I like roller skating, walks in the rain and have a really great sense of humor.