Craigslist was an unknown to me until a dear friend extolled its beauty and strangeness. So one night, unable to sleep, I logged on, and was floored by this meeting place of high-low culture, ostentation and tawdriness happily mixed. I became enamored of this stinky and clamorous world market.
And what attracted me the most were the personals: M-W, W-M, W-W, M-M, M-W-W, W-M-tricycles.
Over succeeding nights, I continued to watch the ads scroll by…and one particular ad stood out like a plinth in a desert. Someone posted, reposted, and reposted—night after night—a desire to meet a Swiss gentleman.
But as this desperate quest continued to reappear, endlessly, people began to post rude remarks to the author (of course). This seemed so uncalled for that I posted my own response, defending her against the mounting onslaught. Others too came to her defense, in an old-fashioned battle royal.
The OP now began to append to her original ad all the letters of support she had received (mine included). I was a bit annoyed that there had been no acknowledgement or request to use my post, that I had been treated like spam….So my first personal ad was born: an act of petty revenge, a way to reclaim my own domain.
Yet the effect was electrifying. I sought nothing, expected nothing, but people emailed me, thanking me for my hilarious “ad.” Praise from intelligent, witty individuals spurred my creativity. In my brain, the doors holding back nonsense, string, and rubber balls were opened and I began a ludicrous and year-long adventure of writing personals.
And the correspondence kept coming: my ads were byzantine, ridiculously obscure, slapstick. I was begged not to tire—or retire. Naturally, I fed off of this: I was offering a public service—laughter, distraction, repasts for a tired and beaten-down society. This was my contribution: a glistening ladle of water, a smile and kind eyes for a dystopian planet’s distraught denizens.
My personals, though nonsensical and filled with trivia (of the historical kind that most appeals to me) are also ultimately and intimately personal—for they are laced with my own nostalgia for lost worlds, lost imagery, and lost people. Everything changes, and never are the things that are lost replaced by something better. The only guarantee of change is that in adapting to it, even laughing at it, you must open yourself to the awareness of loss.