The Personal Ad

I asked a man out the other day. I’m not sure if I did it right. I wasn’t exactly smooth. He said no. Actually, he said, “No, I’m seeing someone - but thank you.” He was very sweet. As it turns out, someone had already suggested he call me. I could have saved myself some work if I’d known. After all, I’m not desperate.I’m just open to possibilities.

So, now what?

My friends suggested read-ing the personal ads. I know two married couples who met that way but I’m skeptical. All those acronyms and abbreviations scare me. I understand SWM (single white male) but the rest are confusing.

Does S/M mean “smoker” or something else entirely? Do I really want to find out? Personal ads fill a half inch box of newspaper print. If all of his good traits fit in that box - “SWM, non-smoker, likes romantic dinners and walks on the beach” – what about his bad traits? When do I get to read about those? I don’t think there are any standard acronyms for a cross dresser, or worse, a closet country music singer.

So, my friends offered to help me write my own personal ad, sort of a “throw the bait out and see what bites” approach. Maybe I’m demanding but there doesn’t seem to be enough room for my specifications. I can’t fit the qualities I want, never mind what I don’t want.

I gave it a try anyway. I wrote a rough draft with my own abbreviations. My ad will read “SWF seeks P/E/C plus a,b,c,d,…x,y,z, minus 1, 2, 3,…100”.

P/E/C is Post Ex Criteria. My ex was my height, older, and balding. So I’d prefer a guy who’s taller and younger - with hair.

The letters of the alphabet represent the things I want. The numbers are the things I don’t want. Naturally there are more numbers than letters.

The man who will answer my ad enjoys cats, knows good wine and beer, understands that chocolate is a basic food group, and is able to cook something other than toasted peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. He speaks another language, preferably French so I can improve mine. He is friends with his ex-girlfriends. He’s committed at least one selfless act – and no felonies. He owns more than one tie. He’s able to ask what I’m thinking – and listen to the answer. He likes to hold hands in public, writes thank you notes and regularly calls his mother. He has a dog that weighs more than 20 pounds. He laughs at my jokes. He knows how to pronounce Merlot, pâté, and prophylactic. He remembers my birthday. He uses baby talk around puppies. He has a discreet tattoo that doesn’t say ‘Mom” or “I love Beth”. He plays to win. He takes me to subtitled movies that don’t involve any of the martial arts. He chews with his mouth closed. He doesn’t laugh when I make snow angels. All of his piercings are visible when he’s fully clothed. He replaces the toilet paper roll. He reads books, even books without pictures. He calls when he says he will. He buys tickets to the opera for me to use on his big football night with the guys. He likes my mother. No wait, he loves my mother. Oh, and he can leap small buildings in a single bound.

He doesn’t wear his baseball cap in restaurants. He hasn’t nicknamed his car something like “Noble Charger” as in, “Would you like to see my…” He doesn’t wear a suit on his days off. If he drinks milk right out of the carton, he never puts it back with only one sip left. He doesn’t heat water for tea by turning on the faucet. If he wears a Hawaiian shirt, there are no hula dancers on it. He doesn’t answer his cell phone during dinner, or during sex. He may not understand why flowers make my day – but he sends some anyway. He never asks, “Does this outfit make me look fat?” He’s not intimidated by any show of strength from a woman. He doesn’t list any of the Three Stooges among his heroes. He isn’t afraid to tell me the embarrassing truth about how he really got that scar. He’s not a former varsity basketball player who can’t toss his dirty underwear 3 feet into the laundry basket. Blazing Saddles is not his favorite movie. Oh, and he doesn’t wear tights, or a cape – at least not in public.

Now that I think about it, every guy I know is dating a waitress. I could be a waitress. It would be a lot easier to fill out an application and carry heavy trays of food than to write a personal ad.

Where do I apply?

Jill Wragg is a retired police officer in Massachusetts.
She can be reached at

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