It's happened. My lucrative career as essay adjudicatrix has spilt over into real life. Not content with the impress of my pedantic pencil upon the collective undergraduate disquisition, I'm now getting up the goats of Voltaireans across the nation by ripping down hand-penned personals notes.
On the subject of personals notes, I'm not - in principle - against 'em, though it would take a braver person than I to risk a couple of hours of precious weekend on the strength of "N-S G.S.O.H. 28-35". But no, far be it from me to disdain a desperado. Indeed, I hereby tender for your consideration that there are far worse preliminaries to a human couplet than a rhyming one.
"Handsome yuppy, seeking other,
To replace his much loved mother."
"Hello! My name is Susan Bretts.
If you refrain from cigarettes,
Like jazz and books and croissants three,
It sounds like you're the one for me."
So what, you ask, could possibly move a Harlot About Town to remove a hand-penned personals note from the public domain? Try this on for size (we're talking A4 paper, lined, blue texta, posted on the noticeboard outside the library):
Hi! I am an Aussie guy, did 5 yrs at uni, looking for an Asian girlfriend. Interest? SMS/Call: *********** C U Soon"
Now call me picky, but "Aussie guy", "5 yrs at uni", replete with own mobile phone number, doesn't really cut my mustard. What we all want to know is whether he makes a good basil sauce, promises not to watch televised ballsports, and will occasionally consent to being dressed up in viking regalia and wheeled around the carpark in a shopping trolley. But that's all by the by. If self-styled "Aussie guy" with mobile phone is your cuppa tea, then dunk your biscuit, by all means.
Equally, my predilection is for persons who write in words, rather than lone-rangering alphanumerical symbols. In my book, "C U Soon" is a poor substitute for "every minute will be an agony of anticipation", but I suppose our "Aussie guy" is affecting a casual tone to help distract from the out and out creepiness of - and here I get to my point - "looking for an Asian girlfriend".
The United Republic of Asia is a very big country these days, but even if it didn't stretch between the regions formerly known as the sovereign states of East Timor and Turkey, there'd be something a little troubling about the notion of "Asian" as a homogeneous category. (Equally, there's something a little troubling about the idea of "Aussie guy" as a homogeneous category, but blah blah.) This particular "Aussie guy", I can't help thinking, thinks of prospective girlfriends in terms of different flavours, like ice-cream, flavours that are best described, not by referring to the prospective girlfriends' politics, ethics, aesthetics, preference for wearing corduroy dungarees, or snail-racing prowess, but by alluding to the geography in which their grandparents grew up. Of course, "Aussie guy" isn't actually interested in geography; it's this, that with an "Asian girlfriend" he knows what he's going to get. I could speculate about his assumptions, about what's encoded for "Aussie guy" in the words "Asian girlfriend", but I'd only be doing so in order to invigorate my indignation. His assumptions, whatever they are, are predicated on a notion of cultural (and genetic) homogeneity sprawling across an entire continent, on that enlightened "they're all the same" position, and what I want to know is what he was doing for those five yrs at uni.