Archeologists, when they want to learn more about an ancient society, like to dig through old garbage pits. The things our ancestors used and tossed away can tell us much about how they lived.
For example, just outside the Roman Colosseum, researchers have recently found a huge mound of discarded, oversized foam gladiator helmets. This discovery has helped to prove the theory that sports fans have always been a strange breed.
When future researchers want to learn about our society, they could study our garbage, but they’d have to beware of biohazardous material, toxic and radioactive waste. So perhaps a much safer thing to study would be: the classified ads section of any large newspaper.
Why? Because if a picture is worth a 1000 words, then a tiny, 21 word classified ad is worth an entire novel. Consider the stories that must be behind these real-life ads (product names changed to protect the innocent – namely, me in a potential copyright protection suit):
WEDDING RING – Size 7, 14 k. Inscription, “For Elizabeth” inside. Never worn. $450 or best offer.
THIGH-O-MATIC – As seen on TV. Used once. Paid three easy payments of $99.99, asking $25.
PUPPIES – Mother Chocolate Lab. Father German Shepherd. Or maybe Rottweiler from across the road. Anyway, free.
HYDROTHERAPY TABLE – For sale. Designed for moderate use, 20 treatments per day or less. [Question: wouldn’t you wrinkle up like a prune after the first, say, six treatments?]
LOSE INCHES FAST – Now with Fatbegone weight loss systems. Just six pills per day for a better, smaller you!
GAIN INCHES FAST – Now with ManEnhance extension systems. Just six pills per day for a better, bigger you!
MAKE MONEY NOW! – Just send $5 for your report on how to make money quickly and easily! [I sent for this report. It said: “All you have to do is place a classified ad that says – Make Money Now! Just send $5 for your report…”]
DISPOSAL SERVICE – We will remove all your old, dusty, dingy books free of charge! [Because piles of books are no longer an intellectual statement, but a designer home fashion faux pas.]
I NEED HELP!! – I need your dollars to help with my college debt. Donate as much as you are able toward my student loan debt. [This ad was missing a word: chutzpah.]
TRUCKLOAD OF PLUMBING supplies. One person buys all. Retails for $14,000, asking $3500 or best offer. [And no, these goods aren’t stolen. Honest.]
MY HUSBAND gave me 150 nicotine patches. Fortunately I only needed 7 to quit smoking. So I’m giving them away ‘free’ because I want to help you quit too. Just send $5 shipping and handling. [And ignore the fact I’ll be making $715 in “shipping and handling” charges.]
BURIAL CRYPT: Tulsa, Oklahoma. Asking $3750. [Er, and what about the current occupant of this crypt?]
COMPLETE TATTOO SETUP – Three machines (been used 2x apiece), complete needle jig set, inks, video, book, 50 shader bars. [Question: would you get a tattoo from someone who bought their equipment second hand from the classifieds?]
ANDROSTENEDIONE – The legal steroid. Soon to be banned by FDA. Order today and stock up before this happens. [Because the FDA couldn’t possibly have a good reason for banning steroids sold via the classified ads…]
FOR SALE, TENT – Sleeps 5. Reason for sale – only have three campers in family now. [Question: Does this tent now have a large, bear shaped hole in the back?]
ALL OCCASION, all use, wedding, ceremonial, ritual, all natural brooms. Besoms made in harmony with the Earth. [Because nothing ruins a good broom ritual more than nylon bristles, okay?]
CAR TOTE – With straps, wheel covers, spare tires, pulls straight. [For those days when you just want to tuck your car under your arm and walk to work.]
ORANGE Kung fu lighter, 1970’s vintage. [But does it know karate too?]
FOR SALE, ANTIQUE – Ceramic, Hawaii ashtray. 99 cents. [And it only cost me $4.95 to place this classified ad.]
So as you can see, the classified ads section provides a wonderful window on to modern society. In fact, the only section that could reveal more about our lives here in the 21st century would be: the funny papers.