On Dating: Express Love, Loss or Exasperation in Six Words or Less

(Illustration by Marty Barrick)
Wednesday, January 28, 2009

It started with Ernest Hemingway.

In six words, he wrote what may be the most potent story of all time: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

(He deemed the sentence his finest work.)

Last year Smith magazine pushed the genre into pop culture consciousness with its collection of poignant six-word memoirs.

"Gay husband. Dead brother. My life."

"One thing just led to another."

"Equally wide, from front and side."

"Married with family. Still so lonely."

Six words, it seems are plenty. Plenty to unload a small secret or reveal a full life.

So now, in honor of Valentine's Day -- and in boycott of greeting card dross -- we invite you to write your own six-word missive.

Sum up the state of your love life, or settle the score with an ex. Tell us what you've learned about love or what you'll never understand. Whatever it is you need to say, say it. Say it in six words or fewer, and give it to us straight -- the heartache, the happiness, the elation, the aftermath.

Don't worry, we don't need your real names, so you can write under the shield of anonymity. The submissions will live in our online confessional and we'll publish some of the most compelling in the Feb. 13 edition of Weekend. Post the pieces in the comments box above, or e-mail them to dating@washpost.com.

-- Ellen McCarthy

© 2009 The Washington Post Company