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Every time I visit Nicole’s house I get to read the personals section of Harvard Magazine, a feature that an anonymous Washington Post commenter called “vulgar” in 1987. It is the highlight of my year, in no small part because every single advertiser feels like it is VERY URGENT to stress exactly how rich and thin they are. (Which seems like it would be a given!) Multiple times, in a single ad! One actual person wrote “ENJOYS BUSINESS-CLASS TRAVEL” as a descriptor, which I think is one of the purest things I have ever read. And the further you get into the weeds of the personals, the more frenzied the synonyms get, because everyone is concerned with making ABSOLUTELY SURE that you are picking up what they are putting down, but they are also (belatedly and barely) concerned about seeming judgmental or close-minded, so they try to speak in the world’s most breakable code.

“Trim widow – fit, energetic, health-conscious, Grace-Kelly-like, sylvan, sylphlike, Hepburnesque (Audrey), could probably fit through two fence slats, svelte, as heavy as fifteen Vogues stacked together, could be cast as a tree nymph in a play about Greek mythology, I’m hiking right now actually, could fit into Julian Casablancas’ from the Strokes’ jeans circa 2002 – seeks Harvard grad who has been on an airplane with a staircase and was allowed to climb that staircase, never has to wear the loaner jacket they keep behind the hostess podium at Per Se, has the same last name as someone from the 1600s, wouldn’t look out of place if for some reason the Reagan Administration took over tomorrow due to a rift in the space-time continuum, has had reason to correct someone’s pronunciation of the word “veldt,” has completed at least two lecture tours outside of Continental Europe, can see the ocean right now from his office, has had bottles of wine opened with a sword for him more than three times, could be cast as a background character in an Agatha Christie adaptation without needing to make significant wardrobe alterations.”

“yacht-adjacent”

“You: Could get up to use the business-class lavatory without being questioned by a flight attendant.”

“Tired of being on symphony committee boards”

“You: have been recently aghast”

“Excellent at dressage on a regular-sized horse but could easily compete riding a much smaller animal, like a sheep, if the situation called for it”

“You enjoy long walks from cars to helicopters, or from helicopters to shipyards”

“The number of pages in my last prenuptial agreement were greater than my current bodyweight in imperial pounds”

“You: Could easily hike to the elevation above sea level, in feet, that corresponds to your checking account’s daily limit.”

“gamine”

“is based in”

“are never in Chesapeake Bay without a very specific reason”

“architecture”

“Me: finds the seats in first class are too wide and have taken to traveling with a life-sized porcelain doll to fill the space”

“has strong opinions about rainscald”

“You: are often shown advertisements for Patek Philippe watches without having to go out of your way to see them”

“don’t have gout but could probably get it in a week if you wanted to”

“You recently executive produced a documentary about berries or manatees or watersheds”

“Your grandfather: The number of research libraries that share his last name is greater than zero.”

“recently remodeled something”

“I could be cast as a proficient martial artist in a Joss Whedon franchise, if I were familiar with the work of Joss Whedon, which I am not”

“You: Have never been inside of a Tommy Bahamas”

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