Excerpts from Lonely Hearts
Author’s Preface to letters
I lost my baby.
I am not
A friend said, “Misery is a life of choice.”
He suggested I
So I called MatchMaker. “How much?” I said.
Jane was on the other end of the line.
“Would you like to come up and spend a
weekend?” I asked. “We could do the in-
“Ha! Ha!” she said, without offense.
What is wrong with videos and computers,
I live in the boondocks.
But I made an appointment, and|
I kept it. Jane was less alluring in person, a
little more businesslike. But I was not after
her alone. I was shopping.
I filled out some forms – name, age, height,
“A six-month membership is $885,” Jane
Gulp (hope she didn’t notice that).
|and fill out the application, and send you a
check if I decide to do it?”
“Yes,” she said.
“But you’ll have to come
“Why can’t we do that now?”
“If I pay you now.”
On the way home I thought about it.
And I thought I was not sure I|
would want to meet a woman who would pay
$885 to meet me. Not that I am not worth
$885. I’m worth $8,885. But there was no
guarantee; and, I thought, I could be had a lot
cheaper. By the time I got home, I had deci-
ded: Not to send the check, not to go back.
I was lonesome again.
I took my friend’s second suggestion:
But I noticed also, in scanning the ads, that
most of them seemed to be not from individu-
als, but from listing services, e.g.:
At the Gate. Meet singles sharing values on
Cultured singles nationwide. Older women / young-
Scandinavia, Poland, USSR, South America: World-
I do not do anything halfway.
On May 14,
|sonal ads for publication in the classifieds of|
Harper’s magazine and Mother Earth News.
I wound up subscribing to nine of the services.
What followed, and is presented in this book,
is an amazing adventure in communication and
seduction. This book does not pretend to be
a survey of lonely hearts clubs. It is but one
man’s (and 138 women’s) experience.
The whole deal cost $480.95 – $262 for the
|ces generate more immediate results, but
best in metropolitan areas, which did me no
good. But, still, $885?). The average sub-
scription cost $29. And one service is e-
nough, if you find a good one, and the right
one for you.
By June 25, more than a month before the
“Too late,” they said. Well, that’s fate.
|For the result, read the chapter titled “Terry”|
(but don’t read it first).
These services work.
They are not new.
I wrote 55 letters to women whose listings
|caught my interest; 14 others wrote to me from
my listings, and two telephoned. I received
three letters and one telephone call in response
to the Harper’s ad, 38 letters and 25 telephone
calls in response to the Mother Earth ad (not
counting a threatening “good luck” chain
letter over the name “St. Jude,” and a tele-
phone call from a guy looking for a place for
his girl friend to crash). That’s 138 initial
contacts (not counting St. Jude and the guy
with the girl friend).
I received replies to 24 of my initiating let-
|dence from five, and got it from three.
corresponded also with a woman who con-
tacted me initially by telephone (and married
her). Thus I wound up with 16 new pen pals
(including a bride).
Six of the 24 replies to my initiating letters
I made all my initial contacts (not counting
|But some of the women used the telephone
nitially, and it worked. I can’t knock it.
Some of the women I met said they had en-
All these ladies were, all the correspondence
Excerpt from Chapter 2: Mary
1381-FL: 39, 5', D, Insurance Agent: Pretty and fun, blue eyes, auburn hair. Enjoys books, movies, art and travel. Very affectionate. Seeking a good man to share today and tomorrow with. If you are honest and caring, let’s communicate. To share with someone is to see twice the beauty. Personality is more important than looks.
May 19, 1990
Dear Ms. 1381-FL:
I’m pretty and fun, too, and blue-eyed, but
I hate Florida, and the people I live among
I’m 4755-KY, I reckon, and code-named
|business stationery and word processor;|
they’re what I use to write letters). Don’t
know if you got me on a list, too; so my résu-
mé: I live and work in an energy efficient
house (3 levels, 10 rooms) and office (sepa-
rate structure) I built in the woods, atop a
steep hill about a mile outside the smallest
town in the world. My son, 6, and my neph-
ew, 16, live with me; they’re good boys. I’m
a country lawyer, and I do a lot of writing and
some publishing (I’ve had articles in Esquire
and Rolling Stone and one book published
commercially. I’ve published two books by
myself and one by my cat, and have four on
the way, which I’ll publish myself if no one else
thinks they’re good enough). I’m not weal-
thy, but I have no material needs.
I play the
banjo and guitar (folk and country), and I love
all music, from opera to Opry. I’m a photog-
rapher. I’m a homebody. I smoke like a
chimney, drink like a fish, and play cards with
a passion. I love films and good books (but
don’t read a whole lot; Henry Miller said he
regretted having read so much) . . . . I’m
fearless and a bit mad. Age 49 (50 in a few
weeks); 5'8", 160 pounds. . . .
If you’re curious, write, and I’ll send you a
|June 9, 1990|
OK, I’m curious.
Besides, you’re pretty,
I couldn’t resist because I’m crazy about
elementary ed major until a professor insisted
that I rewrite a story because anthropomor-
phism was dead and realism was in. Have
you ever heard of anything so absurd? The
dean asked me why I was changing majors
and I said: “Because she won’t let my
grasshopper talk.” . . .
I went back to school a month ago . . . .
I was married for 15 years and have been
I like men who are conservative (not polit-
The strangest things about me are that I hate
ice cream and popcorn and I have never been
camping (I was once told I was un-American).
. . . I enjoy hiking except for going to the
bathroom in the woods.
I discovered country music this year.
This is turning out to be a long letter – some
|men might be intimidated, but as a writer you, I|
trust, will understand.
Since you live outside a small town, I’m
Natty, I enjoyed your letter and I hope
P.S. What do you mean, you’re fearless?
Surely you’re afraid of something.
mean you’d go over Niagara Falls in a barrel?
June 13, 1990
No need to apologize about the length of
I wouldn’t go over Niagara Falls in a barrel
[and, that’s how it begins . . . . ]
“Over hamburgers sold!”