…but not just any kind of personal ads, of course. If that was my kind of delectation, then I would be scouring the backs of bus seats and the walls of public bathroom stalls for the most inane scribbles of “Hot chick, wanna suck my d***? 091blahblahblah.” (I actually made the effort to make that one rhyme; most of the ones I’ve seen are nowhere near as clever.) Reading crude propositions for unseemly acts has not become my 2012 hobby. I like to pretend I’m a bit more highbrow.
Which is why, instead of reading vandalized come-ons, or their more-legitimate but no more coherent tabloid versions, I read N+1 Personals Personals. Described as “Love connections for lit nerds.” by Book Riot‘s Twitter, N+1 Personals (a spin-off site run by interns of the N+1 Magazine) is, frankly, an online personals ad page where lonely-hearts of this world can send in flattering (or not) descriptions of themselves and who they are looking for, in the hopes of receiving an intriguing answer. With ads listed anonymously, and meet-ups facilitated using the N+1 interns as a go-between (indicate interest = receive contact details of ad-writer), the site is “old-fashioned” by internet standards, where one can find a partner, go on a date, and have sex without having to go AFK (can anyone say Second Life?). For the most part , N+1 Personals functions like a stripped-down online dating site.
However, with ads bearing titles like “The Blond Anna Karenina” and “The “Post” Pubescent With an iPhone 4S,” it becomes increasingly obvious that N+1 Personals is not just an online dating site. The “sad young literary people” who come to advertise their search for a sexual and intellectual equal have made for compelling reading, whether or not you are single and searching. And as everyone who advertises is a New Yorker (unless otherwise stated), imagine ads from the likes of Woody Allen-types or brooding Dan Humphreys (book and television versions both). You can see, then why N+1 Personals makes for such interesting reading. (If not, then sample one of my favorite ads here, and see if that won’t convince you.) And while at least one user of the site has commented that the digital fantasy is infinitely more charming than the pedantic reality, the fantasy itself is alluring enough. I mean, who wouldn’t dream of curling up to watch an art flick with the embodiment of Dan Brown‘s Robert Langdon, or matching wits with a Latin-teaching cutie with a penchant for apropos puns?
All right, many of you wouldn’t, but for us lonely folk who are literarily inclined (including yours truly; occupation: student and itinerant blogging bookworm moonlighting as sometime-author and emo-poetess), N+1 Personals is a market of of ideal mates (or, at the very least, ideal characters for your next novel attempt). And really, even if you never receive a response, half the thrill lies in wording a work of art that both literally and literarily sells you.
If there was ever a case for personal ads to be considered legitimate written works–somewhere between poetry and flash fiction, I should say–then N+1 Personals would be it. In fact, I might be tempted to write one of my own. How would it go, I wonder? Erstwhile nymphet seeks erstwhile faunlet willing to solipsize over Starbucks lattés…
Check out this article by New York Magazine‘s Jillian Goodman on what sorts of intellectual hanky-panky gets fêted at N+1 Personals.Another ad close to my heart from this site. I imagine I’d probably come up with something like this.