Wednesday, August 26, 2009

They Call Me Naughty Lola...

I'm a happily married guy. Have been for going on fourteen years. But I have to confess that I still scan the personals every few weeks, looking for that special someone.

Maybe someone like this:

"Attractive F, 32, seeks M, of a not too dissimilar age, who smells nice, dresses well & is good at sex. But must not be a cock. London. "

Or maybe this one:

"Inveterate, pelagic marmalade maker – artist/peace activist. Cheerful F 62 – red/green – seeks help committing future acts of parsimony."

But definitely not this one:

"Two hefty, tattooed Brighton skinheads, 43/45. One writes, one reads. Want uncensored sex with bookish blokes who like rough drafts."

These are all personals from the current edition of the London Review of Books.

If you've never heard of the London Review of Books, well, you're not alone. I'd never heard of it either. But in one of those serendipitous 'net surfing incidents of looking for one thing and finding another I stumbled across the site several years ago while searching for a particular book review.

I thought "Hmmm, what's this?" and started reading. As it turns out, the LRB started out as an insert in the New York Review of Books way back in 1979 before going solo in 1980 (thanks, Wikipedia). It's a good read, but what (immediately) caught my eye were the personals.

And now I have to explain why exactly I was reading the personals section of a fairly obscure (to Americans, anyway) literary journal. Really, it was all completely innocent...

My wife and I had just returned from a ten-day trip to Paris (with a side trip to London). My wife had been to Europe twice already on study abroad programs in both high school and college, but it was the first trip abroad for this provincial rube.

Well, being a history, travel and culture weenie I fell immediately and deeply in love with Europe, and as soon as we got back I started scheming how and when we could go back. One money-saving option we kicked around was renting a flat rather than staying in motels. And the LRB, I noticed, had ads for flats and apartments. But wouldn't you know it, right underneath that was the personals section. I started reading. And then I started laughing.

As it turns out, the LRB was - and is - famous for its offbeat, quirky, witty and weird personal ads. I had no idea. I was instantly hooked, and I've been reading it ever since.

There's none of that earnest, sappy, American-style "looking for that special someone to share my dreams with" bile here. Oh, hell no...

"Bald, short, fat and ugly male, 53, seeks short-sighted woman with tremendous sexual appetite."

"I'm just a girl who can't say no (or anaesthetist). Lisping Rodgers and Hammerstein fan, female, lecturer in politics (37) WLTM man to 40 for thome enthanted eveningth."

"Mature gentleman (62) aged well, noble grey looks, fit and active, sound mind and unfazed by the demands of modern society seeks...damn it, I have to pee again."

Those are just a few of the selections from "They Call Me Naughty Lola" a compilation of the best personals from the pages of the LRB. It's on my Christmas list...


  1. I love LRB personals! There's supposed to be another book of them coming out soon. Yay!

  2. While I'm not a reader of LRB I recognise the tradition, it's not just in off-beat journals, every day the quality press/newspapers for people read throw up a couple of gems.

    You never know, I might even have a go myself, and report back to you.