Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Embellishing, or how's that again?!

Reported on Good Morning America today: a father in Utah has posted a newspaper ad seeking a wife for his 48 year old son. All because he wants grandchildren.
This reminded me of someone I met when I lived in a tiny Alaska wilderness town in 1969-'70.

Jerilyn was a bored local who grew up in that town. She was unmarried, 20 years old, the same age as my neighbor and best friend Sheila and me, both soldier's wives. There was no mail delivery in town. We met Geri at the tiny closet-sized post office where townspeople trekked everyday to pick up mail from individual post office boxes. She looked a lot like present day actress, Melissa McCarthy. She was very artistic and had a great sense of humor and adventure. Jeri provided many hours of entertainment for us.
The population numbered less than 500 permanent residents; Jeri's dating pool was limited. She decided to seek a boyfriend through a magazine called The Lonely Hearts Club. This was before internet dating sites or cell phones.

The three of us sat in my kitchen and devised a great personal ad for the lonely men in the lower 48 states. We couldn't wait for Jeri's visits. We lived vicariously through her correspondences. As she read her letters aloud, we giggled like school girls at the innuendo, propositions, the pleading, the promises these fellows of all ages made.
It's no wonder she received dozens of letters daily. Who could resist such temptations?

Twenty-hours of daylight in summer;  hundreds of acres of wide open spaces to ride the horses that I raise. I enjoy big game hunting and fishing in fall. Aurora Borealis to light up our winter night skies as we snowmobile across the tundra, then snuggle by a blazing fire in my cabin.   
Jeri still hadn't selected a partner or met any of her suitors by the time we left in October 1970, but she certainly received many proposals.

There is a difference between embellishing, stretching the truth, and outright lying. Jeri always wanted to raise horses. There were hundreds of acres of wide open spaces, but she didn't own them. Big game hunting was a possibility, but she never participated. Snow mobiles were the only mode of transportation for the bush country, but most residents in town pulled up to the general store or post office in pickup trucks with Huskies barking in the back. Jeri's "log cabin" was an old trailer home.  
Part of storytelling is painting a word picture that keeps your reader interested. There is a time and place in your writing for embellishing, but I think truth must be told when placing a personal ad.

What do you think?

A year after I returned home, Jeri married a man from Fairbanks, a town an hour a way. They divorced a few years later, and we lost contact.


Dianna Graveman said...

Oh, wow, I can see how that ad would have enticed a lot of hardy, young suitors! Imagine their surprise if they actually made the trek to wild country to meet your friend. Maybe one of them did and fell in love with her anyway. Did you lose touch with her when you moved?

Susan said...

Oh definitely, Linda. For me, "Honesty" is always the best policy. But I can see three young women having lots of fun with the ads. You always tell a good tale. (Honestly, you do.) Susan p.s. Thanks for all your visits to my humble blog.

Connie said...

Ha! Well, you created an enticing scenario. I imagine there are a lot of similarly created tales on the internet dating websites of today.

Val said...

Wow! That makes ME want to propose to her. I guess she figured once she got their attention, they could work from there.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

My Mother could always take a small grain of truth and bake a whole loaf of lies. She would embellish these legends to her liking and then told them so often that she actually believed them to be true. I suppose I could do the same, but I find truth to be stranger than fiction. I have been known to embellish a story for entertainment quality, but, in a personal ad, that could turn into a bad situation.

Alice said...

Your story made me smile. My theory is that most people on dating sites lie because everyone wants either Barbie or Ken even though they themselves don't come close to being a perfect "10." Guess they think if they can lure someone in, they just might have a chance with their wonderful personality. For now and hopefully as long as I live, I have my 'perfect for me man', but if I ever find myself alone in this world, no way would I resort to a dating site. My luck, I'd get a serial killer.

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

Are you sure she wasn't a politician? lol Personal ads should be honest but written with words that soften the edges, I think. Wanting to be honest is the reason I changed my social media profile pic twice when I was growing out my natural gray. I didn't even resemble the old pic and didn't want to misrepresent myself.