By Nury Vittachi
Looking over a friend's shoulder recently, I read a personal ad on a Hong Kong dating website:
"Tall Guy, Age 36. Are there any nice guys left? After me, I'm not sure."
"How arrogant," I said. "There are three billion men on this planet, so there MUST be a few other nice unmarried guys."
I had a look at the women's page of the same website. Female ads seemed more honest, such as this one:
"Hong Kong female, age 38, seriously looking for a good and sincere man for marriage. I am fun to be with sometimes." The presence of "sometimes" on the end of that sentence means that's a girl you can trust.
But the most blisteringly honest personal ads in the world come from Ireland. Here are three:
"Bitter, disillusioned Dublin man, lately rejected by longtime fiancée, seeks decent, honest, reliable woman, if such a thing still exists in this cruel world of hatchet-faced bitches."
"Devil-worshipper, Offaly area, seeks like-minded lady, for wining and dining, good conversation, dancing, romantic walks, and slaughtering cats in cemeteries at midnight under the flinty light of a pale moon."
"Limerick man, 26, medium build, brown hair, blue eyes, seeks alibi for the night of February 24 between 8 pm and 11:30 pm."
You occasionally get honest ads from Asia, such as this recent one from Bangladesh: "Male, 34, Dhaka. I am a fighter looking for who will fight with me. Interests: Chess, cricket, cooking something special, jokes, singing, fighting with someone special."
Here's an honest one I saw last week in an Indian newspaper: "Female, 22, non-veg. I am very emotional as 70 per cent of Indians are."
For me, ads in US publications are a little bit TOO honest, as this real example shows: "Desperate lonely loser, SWM, 32, miserable, apathetic, tired of watching TV and my roommate's hair fall out. Seeks depressed, unattractive SWF, 25-32, no sense of humor, for long talks about the macabre." (SWM is single white male and SWF is single white female.)
Some advertisers ask for too much. This is from a personal ad I saw recently on a Sri Lankan dating website: "Male, 20, from Ettampitiya area. I'm looking for a girlfriend who should be a friend, a sister, a mother and a lover to me. That's all."
The first personal ad ever appeared in the UK's Manchester Weekly Journal in 1727. Helen Morrison wrote a tiny note indicating that she wished to make the acquaintance of a pleasant gentleman with whom to pass the time. She was arrested and committed to an insane asylum for four weeks.
Meanwhile, a friend of mine who regularly answers personal ads, gave me lessons on how to read them.
"I am 40-ish" means "I am 49."
"Average-looking" means "I am hideous."
"I am feminist" means "I am fat."
"I am cuddly" means "I am very fat."
"I am voluptuous" means "I am a human whale."
"I am fun" means "I am really annoying and I talk all the time."
"I am gentle" means "I am incredibly boring."
"I am young at heart" means "I am an ancient, wizened crone."
"I am good-looking" means "I am arrogant."
You know what's really scary? Out of all the ads quoted above, "Devil-worshipper" sounds the most appealing.