Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Nice Man Seeks Loner For Tryst at Bus Station

Caution, I think, should always be one's byword when considering diving into the world of personal classified ads, whether in Russia or in the West. However, I am convinced that, so far at least, Russians are more honest in their ads than their Western counterparts. And sometimes that honesty is so thorough that it can only be described as brutal.

I recently visited the city of Ivanovo, where I stopped at the editorial offices of a small, quixotic weekly newspaper. The first thing that surprised me there was a picture of The Moscow Times' news editor and columnist Jean MacKenzie hanging on the wall (right next to a picture of Leonid Brezhnev -- I kid you not). The second thing was the personals section, which I am told was not unusual for a provincial newspaper.

Most of the language you need to read these ads is fairly predictable. Men should be simpatichny (nice), bez vrednykh privychek (without bad habits; read, not alcoholics), trudolyubivy (hardworking) and uravnoveshenny (even-tempered). Women should be odinokaya (lonely), bez kompleksov (without psychological complexes) and poryadochnaya (respectable).

Some ads certainly give one pause as to the sincerity of their authors. For example, Alexander, 32, who in one breath claims to be material'no obespechen (materially secure) and then adds, zhelatel'no -- konvert (please send a stamped envelope).

Other ads, however, hide nothing, not even things that should be hidden. Why does one man consider it necessary to pay 2,000 rubles a word to announce Ya zhivu v raione avtovokzala (I live near the bus station)?

Another man, also named Alexander, is searching for devushek, ne boyashchikhsya trudnostei i peremen (girls who are not afraid of hardship and change). Forget what he has in mind by "hardship," I'm wondering exactly how many devushki he is looking for. Alexander, if you're out there, please write in and let us know if this line works.

Or what about the 20-year-old who is looking for a poryadochnuyu dobruyu devushku, kotoraya umeyet ponimat', verit' i zhdat'. Mozhno c rebyonkom (a respectable, kind girl who knows how to understand, believe and wait. One child okay.)? What is this man planning to do while his new wife believes and waits?

The next ad, which has a suspiciously similar return address, provides a clue. The 33-year-old man is looking for a woman who smozhet protyanut' svoyu ruku, chtob v dalneishem reshit' problemu gnetushchego odinochestva (can stretch out her hand in order to, in the future, solve the problem of oppressive loneliness).

In the future? He goes on to describe himself as vneshne ne obizhen, kharakter khoroshy, do kontsa sroka -- odin god (not bad looking, with a good character and one year to go before my sentence is up).