Baiting the Hook

“Falsehood is never so successful as when she baits her hook with truth.”
Charles Caleb Colton (1780–1832)

Twenty-five years ago, I recall the shock of seeing the following four categories in the “relationship” section of the want-ads in a local newspaper:

  • Men Seeking Women
  • Women Seeking Men
  • Men Seeking Men.
  • Women Seeking Women.

The times they were a-changing. They still are, at warp speed. I have not checked lately, but I presume there are more categories now, like…

  • Men Seeking Both.
  • Women Seeking Cash.
  • Questioning Seeking Anything.
  • All of the Above Seeking All of the Above.
  • Old Men Seeking …

Oh, never mind.

But there I was, in a waiting room twenty-five years ago perusing the want-ads for entertainment. Reading one ad after another, I figured out the abbreviations. The cluster “SBF” meant single black female. “DWM” meant, divorced white male. I think the “C” meant Christian.

One particular word (never abbreviated) was used repeatedly by seekers to describe themselves and those they were seeking. With pen in hand, I began to circle that word and soon the entire page was a virtual constellation of circles.

Most ads were pleasant but serious. Some used humor to attract attention. Seekers described themselves in glowing terms. I saw parallels with the animal kingdom as I read various attempts by seekers to apply their wits in articulating their mating call in a way that stood out from all the others.

Hobbies were often mentioned. Some liked cats. Others, dogs. Many enjoyed walks along the beach. Those with cooking skills did not fail to mention it. Hints were dropped to imply that the advertiser was a person of means. Various jobs and careers were represented. Many claimed to “fun-loving.”

But one self-description surpassed all others in frequency. It was in all the circles I made on the page. Nearly every seeker used it.

Okay, enough stalling. Here’s that promiscuously over-used word: “Honest.”

Of course, glowing claims do not always line up with reality. Just think what sort of world this would be if everyone who sincerely thinks they are honest actually was! Think of how healthy most marriages would be!

Okay, stop dreaming.

Last year, a blogger named Edie Wadsworth posted an article titled “Why Marriage is So Hard?” . Her answer was provocative and wise. According to Wadsworth, it is not because women are from Venus and men are from Mars, nor is it because modern times are more volatile to marriage than previous eras. She wrote, “The reason marriage is so hard is because you’re more sinful than you think you are.”

Ouch! She added, “You are always the hero in your mind.”

Her answer may not apply to your marriage. But if not, it probably does apply to everyone else’s. Judge for yourself. But that just my point—we tend to judge rather poorly for ourselves. King David stepped on a lot of toes 3,000 years ago when he sang: “For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his own sin.” (Psalm 36:2).

French scientist and philosopher Blaise Pascal sliced it up this way: “There are only two kinds of men: the righteous who think they are sinners and the sinners who think they are righteous.” (Pensées, 1670).

Alas, there was no way to tell on paper whether the seeker was truly honest or baiting the hook. It’s hard to tell in real life too. But if honesty actually is a good way to describe you, then you would be a great mate!