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I think I need a wife

Thursday, August 26, 2010

No, that's actually how this ad begins! Check it:


Matrimonial. - I think I need a wife; one educated well, and rich to, but not very, for I am a lawyer and somewhat of a politician, and she must maintain the station. For myself, I spurn the "social lie" which thinks and says the Press is no fit medium of introduction. "If their hearts be right it matters little how they met." Address Charles V. Barrington, Union-square Post office.

Charles, you are a man ahead of your time. Well, in some ways, like the "spurning the 'social lie'" part, which was kind of cool. I mean, there were obviously quite a lot of people using matrimonial ads, but most of them are a little embarrassed about it, or use an ad as a last resort, or feel the need to endlessly justify why they're printing one (it's 11pm and too late for me to put up pretty links to examples, sorry). This guy is like, "'Ef that. I want a wife! And this is how I'm gonna find one!"

So kudos to you for being progressive; you were 100% correct, sir. But Charles, you're also a little, well, strange. You start your ad with "I think I need a wife"? That's your pick-up line? Well, good for you! You think you need a wife! It's like he's walking down the street one day, all happy in his bachelorhood, when a light goes off and he thinks, "Hang on! I think I need a wife!!" And then he just jots that down and runs straight to the newspaper office. I wonder if he thinks he needs a wife not because he actually wants one, but because he thinks he actually needs one as an aspiring politician. Also, favorite line: she needs to be well educated and rich "to." Niiiicce. Say you want an educated wife and then use "to" incorrectly. It's supposed to be "too," you idi -- er, Charles. I guess it could be a printer's typo. If so I'll bet he was fuming.

Also love? He wants her to be rich, because he wants her money, but not too ("too"!) rich, because he doesn't want to look he's living off his wife's wealth, since that never looks good for a politician (if I wasn't so lazy I'd be putting in clever links to John Kerry and John McCain right about now). Presumably, "she must maintain the station" means that she has to look like she's living off a lawyer's salary. So, to recap, he wants her to have money so he can live more comfortably, but he wants it to look like he's supporting them with his own income. Classy!!

Now I ran a quick Google search for Charles Barrington and only came up with a British baronet from the turn of the 18th century, but there are just enough parallels that I wonder if this name was a choice rather than real. Charles Barrington, baronet, was also a politician. And although he doesn't appear to have had any middle name, he was the 5th baronet. Get it? Geddit? 5 = V?

So either I'm totally reaching (likely) and this guy was a big fan of the British peerage circa 1700, or, by some amazing coincidence, this really was his name. I wouldn't be surprised either way.

©2010 Pam Epstein

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