Sunday

February 26th, 2017

Insight

Short stories

Paul Greenberg

By Paul Greenberg

Published August 26, 2016

Have you noticed? There's a classic American short story every day in the paper. It can be found in the small type of the classified ads under the Personals, and its author could be a combination of Miss Lonelyhearts, Flannery O'Connor and one of today's evangelists seeking to spread the Word.

Why?

For love or money or maybe a mix of both.

The classifieds' opinion section offers a diligent reader an abundance of the pious and profane, charity and its hard-hearted opposite, patriotic appeals or just politics as usual.

There are people in search of lost memories or a lost love. They may be looking for criminal evidence or just a good used car.

There are poorly disguised ads on behalf of lawyers searching for clients, and some not disguised at all but upfront about it. It's all served up with side dishes ranging from public service announcements to whodunits.

Some will inspire your pity, others your skepticism.

You name it.

Here's a sampling to whet your curiosity:

ABSOLUTELY NO inmates. SBF ISO gentleman. Hot chocolate ...

BEWARE OF Beebe's shyster handyman married couple.

Just to let you know where you are, namely in the heart of the Bible Belt, there's also a full quota of biblical quotations. (SHE WAS arrayed n purple & scarlet color and decked with gold & precious stones. Rev 17:4.)

ALAN, TELL Tiff just because I don't carry much cash on me that doesn't mean I ain't got it.

DISABLED SINGER needs ride to Walmart Super Center & Fordyce Thornton area ...

LGBT LOOKING For G0D'S love? ALL are welcome at New Beginnings Ch, NLR ...

SOUP KITCHEN, NLR Church ... Donations. Sister Ray ...

LOOKING FOR ladies & coaches, 18 & up, for women's Semi Pro basketball team ...

G0D BLESS OUR TROOPS ...

IF YOU like & want to keep your firearms, vote for my friend Donald Trump ...

WHO DESERVES the George Bush economy again? You do ...

ARE YOU 16-18? Do you need a free high school diploma? ...

FREE ENGLISH Practice, Bible based 1 on 1 ...

LOOKING FOR Specialist Allen, or anyone in Company D, 212 Signal Battalion, Fisher Armory, night of summer camp party 1978, Fort Chaffee, about incident at barracks, for medical reasons ...

REWARD $500 for info leading to person in hit & run 140 mph 10-19-13 ...

NEED SOMEBODY to assist me with Powergold music scheduling ...

MABELVALE HS Reunion, all yrs 10-2P, 09-10 Mabelvale Methodist Chr ...

ALFA ROMEO 1983 Spyder, 148 K miles. One Owner. $5,000 ...

FREE DIVORCE help and divorce recovery. Call ...

PERSONAL INJURY, 25 years ... Attorney at Law ...

It all makes for eye-opening, heart-rending reading. There's food here for trust or doubt, belief or lack thereof. You'll laugh, you'll cry or maybe you'll just give up and go on to the sports section or, in desperation, even the editorial page. Where there's life, there's always hope something better will turn up.

To quote Nathanael West, the cynical originator of Miss Lonelyhearts himself: "Only those who still have hope can benefit from tears. When they finish, they feel better. But to those without hope, whose anguish is basic and permanent, no good comes from crying. Nothing changes for them. They usually know this, but still can't help crying."

All the hopeless out there can still change the subject even if they feel they can't change themselves. And what easier way to take their minds off their own troubles than to read about other folks' joys and sorrows, hopes and despairs? It certainly beats television, the movies or any other diversions. For the Personals are indeed deeply personal. And they change every day. So hurry, hurry, hurry. Immediate seating and no waiting. The price of admission is minimal, the pain fleeting and the satisfaction guaranteed. Why worry when the Personals are so handy? Every day.

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Paul Greenberg is the Pulitzer-winning editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

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