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Simple, or sinister?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

There's something about the tone of this ad that is striking to me. Usually when one member of a couple breaks up with the other in these ads, the reaction is much more emotional (take Huckleberry and Louise, just for example). Yet J. here seems casual and almost indifferent.

A.--E. (Wants) - Rather a sudden and final goodby you sent Thursday evening. Why not drop me a line now and then; wherever you are, and let me see you occasionally? No one shall ever know it. You can trust me. You shall not be questioned. Why not be the same? Please write. J.

By the way, can anyone make out that first word? It looks like "wants" to me, but then it also looks a little like "warts," which makes almost no sense ("wants" doesn't either, though). And did you know that people were already saying "drop me a line" back in the mid-nineteenth century? I had no idea.

But in any event, am I right? Other than the "Please write" he sounds (I just decided J. is a man) like he doesn't care too much. That's definitely a little unusual. I can think of a couple different explanations for this. First, it was just a casual, meaningless little affair. Maybe one or both of them was married, this was all just for fun, and now A.--E. is losing interest and/or starting to get worried that she will get caught. So J. wasn't ready for it to be over with yet, but since they both knew it was going to end sooner or later, isn't all that emotionally attached. The second possibility is that her letter was really freaked out and scared, and he's trying to be soothing. Trying to calm her down, whereas some passionate outburst might make her even more afraid of getting found out.

And then finally, the last interpretation I came up with (which is almost certainly wrong) is that J. is actually threatening A.--E. There is something just a little sinister about this. Although that could be my imagination running wild (as it is wont to do). I don't know - it just seems like a very, very veiled threat. Like, you don't get to leave me, I think you had better let me see you...or else. I don't know where I get that. But it is definitely the most interesting interpretation, if not the most realistic.

Anyway, that's all I've got today, folks. I must now do work.

Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge! ©2010 Pam Epstein

2 comments:

Cari Hislop July 1, 2010 at 4:48 AM  

Love your blog!

I think the capitals in parentheses are like (BTW) which most people recognize as 'by the way'.
What about? (WANTH)

(We are not that happy)
(We are not terribly happy)

Pam July 1, 2010 at 8:00 AM  

Thanks! That's an interesting thought - maybe they had a code that made sense to each other but not to us...

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