1. There are ten columns, and five categories. "Women seeking
men" takes up 8.5 columns; "Men seeking women" takes
up slightly less than one; "Men seeking men" is about half
a column. "Women seeking women" and "Recreation and
hobbies partner" are both so far blank. "You can find the
type of person and relationship you are looking for by placing your
ad in this category today," they say, hopefully.
2. None of the personals include email addresses: the only way to
respond is by phoning 1-900-370-9656 at $5.98 for the first minute
and $2.99 for each additional minute. Or you can phone a toll-free
number and pay $3.49 per minute on your credit card. Just for the
sake of comparison, AT&T’s basic international rates range up
to $1.97 a minute for Burundi, $2.42 for Cambodia, and $2.57 for Chad.
You can phone North Korea for less than it costs to call the New York
Times personals. The highest rate I could find was $3.72 a minute
to Mayotte Island. (Apparently it’s part of the Comoro Islands, northwest
of Madagascar at the north end of the Mozambique Channel.)
3. Before we even start reading the ads we have to read the "legend",
which, along with the standard abbreviations (J-Jewish, F-Female)
includes "A-African American". Quite a few of the ads include
"P-Professional," which seems pretty redundant in this context.
4. If the New York Times deliberately set out to confirm all of the
stereotypes held against it by Texas Republicans and others, it could
hardly have done a better job. We start out with a Jewish teacher,
52, and carry on in that vein for most of the rest of the page. "CULTURE
VULTURE Loves classical music, opera, film, theater, some art. Seeks
male, 55 to 65, with mutual interests." "STUNNING BLONDE
Vivacious, accomplished, statuesque, multilingual, author, lecturer.
Desires extremely cultured and deeply intelligent equal (except for
the "statuesque" part!) male over 50 of any race for intellectual
companionship." "LOVELY MANHATTANITE 5’7", fit, green-eyed,
spirited, warm, Jewish, enjoys the arts, dining out, travel. Seeks
tall, professional, non-smoking, good looking, energetic, 53 to 63,
giving man, similar interests." "IVY LEAGUE GRADUATE SWJF,
61, loves opera, art, concerts, theatre, dining, outdoors, family.
Good-natured. Seeks refined, thoughtful gentleman. Non-smoker."
5. The general age seems to be in the 50s, although it does range
down to "30s". The only younger advertisers are two incredibly
obnoxious men, "ELITIST Socially liberal, elitist, atheist, decaffeinated,
non-smoking, rugby playing, swimming, PHD, 28, seeks equal or superior,"
and "ENGLISH ARTIST 25-year-old WM seeks whatever. I’m financially
secure, gorgeous, live in Manhattan and ready for a surprise."
6. Most of these seem to have cost around $100, plus the $20 which
everybody seems to have paid for inclusion on the website.