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Modern love?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

These are a few sweet and sad personals I came across while doing some research yesterday, and they really got me thinking. As most historians, I think, will tell you, it's impossible not to take your research and apply it to today's world - whether it be comparing the war in Iraq to the war in Vietnam, to comparing today's financial crisis to the Great Depression. And as I ruminated on these, a current-day event came into my mind.

But first, here's the text:

Unthinkable - Could you turn back? No regrets for me; wasted time is all I value: can wait most nobly; if you can, I live, else I die; tell me yes or no.

RAIN - my little one, let me know if you are well and if there is anything I can do to prove my love. SNOW.

You treat me most cruelly; most unhappy without you. Did you get letter? Please write. Faithfully, VIOLET.

Mine. - Yes, I love you so dearly that nothing in the world can separate us. That is, live to my credit. Please write when and where I can see you. A.B., 164 Herald office

I've had several comments here, via email, and also on some of the websites which have linked to me (THANK YOU!) about how modern people - men in particular (though I think you won't see many women writing like this today either) - are no longer able to express themselves this way, particularly in reference to dear Christopher.

However, there's a modern-day equivalent to the ads above that bring that into question. You may all castigate me for this, but I was reading some of the emails to and from Mark Sanford, and you know what? It's the same thing. And America's fascination with those emails also matches people's fascination with the ads back then. In many ways, these ads are exactly like those emails; mailing a letter to your lover's home, if your affair is hidden, is impossible - so you find another way to be in touch. And when we, the reading public, get to see the innermost, private, and passionate thoughts of others - we're riveted.

Look, I'm not trying to justify Sanford's affair in any way. But I wonder: what is it about illicit love that brings out the romance in people who seem to be so boring otherwise? (Obviously people in love in totally legitimate relationships have the same level of passion, but you do hear so much about steamy affairs - in reality and certainly in Hollywood.) And all the eloquence and freedom of expression that you, my readers, think we have lost - and I don't think you're wrong - what does it mean that we find it here, in the tawdry affair of a politician? (Gary Kamiya at Salon had a great piece about this, in my mind.) And does this change your attitude toward the ads above?

My thoughts on this aren't fully formulated; maybe I'm wrong and you are certainly entitled to disagree. I'd be interested in hearing what you think.

Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!

©2009 Pam Epstein


Anonymous June 27, 2009 at 12:39 PM  

What's kind of hilarious to me, having read the article, is his use of THE BIBLE to justify his actions/desires. Especially funny given his long, circular rambling about God and God's laws to open the press conference. :D

I think it's also easier for people to write what they feel rather than say it to the people they care about. Hurtful things on the internet are at the other extreme of the spectrum, but I think it's because we consider correspondence to be 'safe.'

Ed June 27, 2009 at 1:04 PM  

Ah yes, Sanford's emails to Maria. How can such a boring man write such Harlequin Romance Drivel?
I think the reason that he wrote so floridly compared to what you expect comes down to the fact that what he was doing was wrong, and he got off on that. The threat of getting caught was a turn on, if you would. Like many Holier than Thous, Mark has his Kinks, although we aren't quite in Vitter territory!

Being a cynic, I think that most men in power pursue power to get laid (there are exceptions, of course). I have a hard time coming up with a post WWII President that did NOT, at any time in there life, have an affair. The one exception would be Jimmy Carter, no way he had an affair (and maybe Barack, I know I wouldn't want to cross Michelle :-))!

On a personal note, I live in South Carolina. Him being in Argentina and nobody knowing where he was, probably meant that the State was better mananged than ever during his reign. All the stories are true, even the Hard Core Repub base here thinks he's a little "off." On a plus side, I'm glad that Sanford is finally giving me entertainment that I can enjoy and smile about. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy! A**Hole!


Pam June 28, 2009 at 8:08 AM  

@yogagrrl - people who are in love do and say stupid things, what can I say? The Bible is his crutch, I suspect; he feels guilty about what he did so falls back on what he knows best. As a hardcore liberal I don't have much sympathy for the man who voted to impeach Clinton, but as a person, I do feel for him.

@Ed - I think you're right about getting off on doing something forbidden - which is one of the similarities I see between him and these advertisers. I think they liked to see themselves as heroes in tragic romances (thus the use of nicknames like Othello and Desdemona), and their language matched that. Maybe he was the same.

Unknown July 8, 2009 at 5:41 AM  

A side not completely off topic from the other comments. Maybe Snow nicknamed his love Rain because he felt like she melted his icy heart, just like the spring rain melts the snow. Corny I know, but incredibly romantic.

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