“Every so often I check out the personals in the New York Review of Books. They’re sort of like the brainy, geriatric version of the ads on Match.com. Nothing as vulgar as a photograph, of course, and quite a bit of talk about culture signifiers.
Here’s a more or less typical example:
‘STRIKINGLY ATTRACTIVE, ARTICULATE, intellectual, active politically. Into independent film, MoMA, opera at the Met, anthropology, sociology. International change agent working with rural developing communities. Slender, sophisticated – characterized by warmth and contagious humor. Adventurous, yet down to earth. Travels to India for work. Gravitates to New England, Albuquerque, the Amalfi Coast, Lake Sevan. Savors fresh-picked figs, Prosecco, the op-ed page, NGOs, meeting new people. Loves food – let’s cook together. Believes nothing beats relaxing at home with friends. Seeks accomplished, intellectual, attractive man, 49-67, for lasting, caring, real relationship.’
Good gravy, as we NYRB readers frequently say. A personals ad where I have to look up two of the references. Prosecco is a sparkling white wine from Italy; Lake Sevan is the largest lake in Armenia. I have a great deal of sympathy for anyone who has to write an ad promoting her suitability as a romantic partner, but I do question describing oneself as a ‘change agent,’ unless one is working the box office at a movie theater.”