Snow White Doesn't Live Here Anymore

Laughter, pleasure, malice, and the pursuit of adult fun

Selling Your Car? Selling Yourself? Writing Ads is Tricky

Selling yourself is tougher than selling your Chevy. Or your mother. Maybe.

Years ago I tried to help a friend compose an ad to sell her car-- only to discover that a friendly advisor re-wrote our lyrical descriptions of her Nova.

We were disappointed.

We'd had a great time coming up with lines such as "The robin's-egg blue sheen now overlaying the original gray paint gives this vehicle a world-weary yet inviting look, like the eyes of a woman who, having seen much of life, yet seeks to travel unmapped roads."

Yet the advertising advisor suggested that my friend instead supply only information concerning the year of the car, such as how many miles it got to the gallon, and the fact that the tires were still pretty new.

"It's a Chevy," the ad man explained, "You're not trying to sell your mother."

My friend sold her car, but the experience was a let-down.

And trying to sell yourself in an ad might be tougher than trying to sell your mother.

J., a friend from Hamden, CT, suggested that the pre-shrunk phrases in personals ads might also be misleading even if that is not the intention: "I wanted to be married and not just date but I was told that I should say I was ‘marriage minded' and ask for ‘serious replies only'. My idea was to be more playful and say something like ‘let's cut to the chase: are you sweet, solvent, and not insane? Want to get married to a nice, educated, working woman next year?' but I was told that such an ad might attract the wrong kind of man. Also I was told to say ‘no head games' in order to weed out the married men. The ad I put in was boring and sounded like everybody else. By the way, some married men still answered. They said stuff like ‘I live in the same house as my wife but we have no relationship'. If you live with your wife, mister, you are married. I'm going to try again in other publications."

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She's right to notice that the personals differ widely from one venue to another.

Traveling through Vermont last week, I was delighted to see one from "a 50+ male who really likes good weather."

This ad could have been written by my husband.

Indeed, I asked Michael if he was secretly placing ads in out-of-state columns because I did not realize that other weather fanatics existed--or admitted it.

I'd rather meet Vermont's weather-guy than meet the ones from glossier pages in upscale magazines who proclaim "The good men are not all taken!"to which the only appropriate reply is "Do you know any? Because with an ad like that, clearly you ain't one of them" or "Wealthy, Ivy, athletic man seeks wealthy, Ivy, athletic woman" to which one hastens to say "Sweetie, you want a mirror, not a partner."

But I give folks who join the personals' dance enormous credit, no matter how they describe themselves.

For every weather guy, there's another equally eager weather fan who is also scanning the skies and hoping for the best.


Gina Barreca, Ph.D., is Professor of English at UConn, and author of It's Not That I'm Bitter: How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Visible Panty Lines and Conquered the World.


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