Monday, March 1, 2010
I went to see The Tempest last night, so it seemed only appropriate that I blog about an ad with a Shakespearean reference - although from a different play altogether.
A young gentleman, who has seen twenty-four springs and nearly as many falls, wishes to correspond with a young lady not under 17 years of age, whose piano is not her only forte, who will make the winter of his discontent seem glorious summer. She must possess a genial disposition, an appreciative sense of fun, be free from "Miss Nancyism" and write a plain hand. Address J.O.M., Herald office.
So! Adorable! I want to meet J.O.M.! Granted, he's a little bit young for me, or, I guess more accurately, a lot too old for me since he's probably been dead for the last hundred years. But isn't he charming? He reminds me of Harry Vernon or a younger and more carefree version of my dear Christopher Leighton. And of course, he's not my first advertiser to quote Shakespeare.
Speaking of, the Shakespearean line to which I refer is the "winter of discontent" part, which is a slightly altered version of "Now is the winter of our discontent/Made glorious summer by this sun of York," which is the first line of Richard III. Of course in the play it has nothing whatsoever to do with romance or loneliness, but I'm sure J.O.M. is neither the first nor last person to quote that line way out of context. Whatevs, it's sweet.
But, J.O.M.'s charms don't stop with his ability to adapt Shakespeare. There's the little pun about the piano not being her only forte, which is kind of amusing. Get it? Get it? There's "forte" as in a skill or talent, and then "forte" as in a pianoforte. And I especially like the part where he says she must have "an appreciative sense of fun." How often do you see that? I'll answer: rarely. Today it's like a personal ad isn't complete if somewhere or other the person doesn't mention the importance of a sense of humor (which, of course, because that's super important). But back then, that's definitely not very common. I have without a doubt seen other ads that hint at it (like the jolly young sea captain), but it's just very infrequent. And that ties in to the part about being free of "Miss Nancyism," which meant a person who was prim and fussy. Obviously this is a man who wants a wife who also makes silly puns about pianos.
The part about writing with a plain hand - that I'm not so sure about what he means. Does he want a woman whose handwriting is very neat, or whose style of writing is simple? And why is this characteristic so crucial? He doesn't care about money, he doesn't even care about looks (because he's awesome), but he cares about having a "plain hand"? Maybe that means something broader - like having a plain hand implies you're satisfied with a simple life or something. I don't know. Anyone with thoughts on this, feel free to chime in.
Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!
©2010 Pam Epstein