“Close Encounters of the Personal Ad Kind”
Sometime in the mid-1980’s I found myself contemplating doing something I had never done. In fact, contemplating something I said that I would absolutely never do! And that was to put one of those seemingly ridiculous ads in a newspaper’s “Personal” ad section. As many of you know, in day’s gone by doing such seemed to be cause for intense ridicule and embarrassment.
Nevertheless, one cold and lonely fall day a good friend of mine, who happen to be female, suggested that she and I do this “thing”, but do it together to alleviate any sense of guilt or embarrassment along with the purpose of giving each other support to include covering each other’s back if necessary. I’m not sure how serious either of us really was about finding love everlasting but a little experimentation here and there is just part of human nature I suppose.
Now the way this particular local newspaper handled their ‘personal’ ads for their clients was as follows; you go down and give them the ad you want published, they publish it, any responses were mailed to them and then you would go down to their office and pick up the responses. This of course was to eliminate the disclosure of anyone’s address or phone numbers and eliminate having to rent a post office box.
Finally after my friend and I agreed to do this, we both spent a day or two composing this infamous ad we were going to publish. Then I was elected to take them down to the newspaper office, pay the fee and do the associated business.
I should add that among other information about the individual responding to the ad contained in the letter you would receive, there would also be a phone number where you could contact them if you so desired to take the introduction any further.
Surprisingly enough it didn’t take all that long for either of us to get responses. This way of doing one’s bidding for dates had to be the ultimate scenario for “blind dates” in my opinion.
The First Encounter
I read this ladies response and she seemed really nice with a good attitude about the whole “personal ad” thing so after a day or two I gave her a call using the enclosed number in her response. After a half-hour or so conversation we decided to meet at the local Mall at a small restaurant type facility.
We had decided to meet like mid-afternoon so the small restaurant wasn’t crowded. I got there first, sat down in a booth near the front and in a while I noticed a lady walk in who seemed to be looking for someone so I walked over and introduced myself. She was a fairly nice looking lady I guess but there was an immediately noted distraction. I don’t know what bra size comes after triple-D but I’m reasonably sure she was wearing it. She ordered a salad and I think I ordered French fries. Admittedly it was difficult to carry on a conversation with this lady given the fact I had to peer over her breasts to communicate. And you know how women hate men who stare at their breasts. To compound my reservations about her chest size; almost from the beginning of our light meal she had smeared salad dressing on the side of her mouth and never once reached for a napkin. Hello sweetie….we have napkins!!
After finishing our meal we parted company and after getting back home, I accidently on purpose lost her phone number.
The Second Encounter
The second attempt began in a similar manner as the first with a phone call. We eventually agreed to meet at a particular fountain/rest area at the same Mall as my previous encounter. I had decided no more meals with a total stranger until I had determined they had some measure of table manners.
This time I had gotten with my cohort in crime who had gotten me into this personal ad thing and we contrived a plan. This time we would go to the Mall together and pose as a couple and just hang around near where I was to meet this lady. After checking her out, if she looked reasonably human and civilized, then we would part company and I would proceed with going over and introducing myself.
I remember this meeting place was just outside the entrance to JC Penny so we stood by a table right at the front entrance to the store looking at some various sorts of kitchen ware on sale while I scoped out the loitering women. Finally I spotted what must have been her. My friend said, “Go on – don’t make her just sit there and wait!” Well, I froze in place like a deer in a headlight. It wasn’t as though I had noted any problems (isn’t that a terrible thing to say), it was just that I had lost my nerve. She may have been the grandest female in the Mall, but I bolted and ran, so to speak. My friend, on the other hand, spent the rest of the evening laughing her ass off……Bitch!
The Last and Final Encounter
I figured the “cut-and-run” incident, tacky as it may have been, was the end of my personal ad escapades. I got one more call from the newspaper saying we had a few more letters so I went down to pick them up. Well, as luck would have it, there was a particular letter that I found quite intriguing. Little did I know it was “pay-back” in disguise.
The response I received was from a lady who really caught my attention for reasons I don’t remember now. I eventually called her and talked with her on the phone and she seemed really nice. Even played tennis which was something I enjoyed doing at the time. We eventually agreed to meet at a local Shoney’s Restaurant (I figured maybe the Mall was bad luck) but we had agreed that we were just going to have coffee and chat.
Well, it actually went fairly well and before we parted she mentioned that some organization she belonged to was having a dance at a local indoor pavilion the following weekend and although it wouldn’t be a date in the technical sense, I was welcome to come and join her and her friends at their table.
I agreed and that Saturday evening I attended the event. Obviously I felt a little awkward and out-of-place not really knowing anyone, including her in a real sense. But as the night wore on and the drinks became more numerous I found myself getting more comfortable and relaxing a bit. As I recall I think I danced with her one time and then eventually started leaning toward the door thinking this was enough stress for one evening. I left, completely sober I might add, and headed home.
The next evening before turning in I thought I would give the lady a call and tell how much I appreciated the invite and how much I enjoyed the evening. That phone call was about to bring my world crashing down around me along with creating a few dark weeks in my life.
As soon as she answered I began my short spiel about the night before and thanking her. After finishing there was this deafening silence on the other end of the phone. I can’t recall her name now but I called out her name and asked, “Are you still there?” She immediately responded with the fact that she could not believe I had the nerve to call her again after what I had said to her the night before on the phone. I questioned her as to what phone call and she said, “Don’t play dumb with me, you know what phone call! The one I got at three o’clock this morning….the obscene one!” At this point I was dumb-founded. What in the world was this woman talking about?
She went on to say she knew it was me that had called and she couldn’t believe the things I was saying on that call. During that conversation I did everything I could to try and convince her it wasn’t me but she was seemingly convinced and the reality was, if she thought it was me I had no way of proving otherwise.
I can’t relate the complete helpless feeling of being accused of something that you were completely innocent of doing. After a couple more phone calls that week and a letter I might add, it was obvious that my pleas of innocence were falling on deaf ears. She was apparently convinced that it was me and there was absolutely no way at all to prove my innocence by any shadow of doubt.
Over the next several weeks feelings of both anger and hurt subsided very little to none. Then one evening the phone rang and it was her calling me…..out of the clear blue. She then related that she and several of the women who had attended the event were having a breakfast together somewhere just the day before and one of the women mentioned getting an obscene phone call the night of the subject event and dance we had attended from a man whose name she happened to know. The woman went on to say that he ended up calling several other of the women who had attended that same event, naming a couple of them she knew personally. Apparently whatever this creep was saying, he had repeated to all the women he had called. So my SWF then said it appeared that she had been wrong. She then went on to say that anytime I wanted to play tennis to just holler – she would love too! I said okay and followed up with a short goodbye. You can’t imagine how angry I was feeling after hanging up from that phone call and her attitude was just to blow if off in a heart beat like it had never happened.
Fact was, after living with this accusation and the associated feelings; it was obvious this woman had no idea what mental anguish she had wrought. There was no way in hell that I could play tennis with this woman, or anything else for that matter. She had gone from being a very possible relationship to an absolute nightmare that would be tattooed on my brain for life!
Forever The End of Personal Ad Relationships
Although life in the ‘personal ad lane’ has drastically changed from those days, especially with the advent of the Internet, in those days it had been my experience that few people who actually engage in the “personal ad” venture rarely confess their actions. I suppose for some it may be the embarrassment of having to stoop to what they consider some seedy, dark and mysterious level in an effort to secure some measure of companionship. For me it really was more of wanting to experience the unknown of it as compared to being convinced I would perhaps find the love of my life. My three encounters were real enough and I suppose one could find their soul mate via the personal ads – but for me…..well it just wasn’t to be!
As for my friend, well she completely “wussed” out on me by never calling or arranging even one meeting. I think I may have been setting a bad example. The whole experience is a one hell-of-a-way to make a memory, I will say that! 🙁