Notes on reading the New York Times personals section

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.

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1 Response to Notes on reading the New York Times personals section

  1. Mimi says:

    Really? Are you serious there’s a section listed like that @1?.. I didn’t know that there can be something like that.
    Website seems to ask for more payments. Maybe because it’s hard to maintain data in it.
    Thanks for sharing your newspaper.
    Mimi from imprimante multifonction couleur 

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