Shopping period is over. You’ve been turned away from most, if not all of the writing classes you applied to, including “Writing about Eli Clark,” which you really thought you were qualified for. Don’t worry: While Yale students love to write about themselves, there are many other avenues available outside of class. Writing about yourself is a worthy activity resting (on the narcissism scale) just slightly above staring at yourself in a mirror for an hour.
I recently found myself at the lowest point of shopping period — alone and drinking $5 wine from an oversized juice box. Instead of Bluebooking, my bleary eyes turned to the local newspaper, which was playing the role of “understudy” to “paper towel” in the play entitled “Wine Stain on My Couch.” Inside the paper’s golden pages, I discovered a new and exciting world of literature: The personal ads, a perfect and succinct way for Yale students to write about themselves. And easier to get into than writing classes, even for those in the writing concentration.
A personal ad is a delicious way to lie and boost your ego all at the same time. You should look at personals as a venue for publication and glory. You may even get a hot date out of it! If you’re already dating someone, don’t worry — there is an entire section of the personals dedicated to discreet adulterers. And you may be surprised to realize that people are looking for you, too!
Since we students tend to need some guidelines, maybe a syllabus, and definitely a few course materials, I have assembled a how-to list for you to cling to in your bed at night as you sleep next to your 17th copy of Strunk and White’s “The Elements of Style.”
HOW TO WRITE A PERSONAL AD
1. Mention your physique first. Mentioning it later indicates that you think that looks are not important, which is a lie. Forgetting to mention it at all makes people think you’re fat. Or God forbid, full of personality.
2. Describe yourself using vague but expensive words like “sophisticated,” which has 13 letters and uses the very rare “ph”-as-an-“f” “phenomenon” … I mean, “thing.” Don’t be too cocky, or you’ll look like you’re lying. Don’t mention, for instance, that you’re pretty sure you’re the next Nietzsche. You aren’t the next Nietzche. Besides, who wants to date Nietzsche? Remember: Don’t sell yourself short. If you hate yourself and think that your best quality is owning a lot of post-it notes, write instead that you are “organized” and a “collector.”
3. Tell your readers who you are looking for, but appreciate subtext. Instead of “seeks anyone who wants to talk about me” and “seeking validation” try “seeks good conversationalist” and “hoping to share interests!”
4. Include a pithy closing remark which will whet their appetite! These remarks begin with a question and end with an answer. An example of this would be, “Looking for a piece of meat? Bring home the bacon!” or, “Is this your lucky day? Let’s fly off on the broom of love together!”
For those of you interested in the great process of “editing” and “workshopping,” I’ve included a test to hone your skills. Write a personal ad that is true, then rewrite it so someone will find you attractive! Here is an example:
Honest Personal Ad: Single white female, 20, pasty, okay boobs, occasional zit seeks gorgeous, smart, funny guy to show off to her friends. Must enjoy making me feel better about myself as well as telling me I look great in shorts. Do you like self-deprecation? Come and get it!
Revamped Personal Ad: Unattached, ethnically delicious lady, 21, luminous, voluptuous in all the right ways, gleaming complexion, seeks attractive, intelligent man (sense of humor a must!) to enjoy evenings out with friends. Must enjoy intimacy and conversation as well as the appreciation of my bodacious bod. Whip it? Whip it good.
So, friends, fellow students, and rejected writers of the world: go out and make a difference in a publication near you. There are even online personals to choose from. Computer literate? Come and click it!
Eli Clark: Knockout senior playwright seeks male-model-quality !straight!!! thespian who’s humorous (but not in the spotlight-stealing way). Think your sword is mightier than my pen? En garde!