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