Dear Ann:

"Smarter Now in Florida" wanted to know what kind of people look for companionship through personal ads. I can tell her. They are the same "losers" who look for employment in the classifieds because they have exhausted all other possibilities and are pretty darned desperate. And how about us morons who look in the newspaper to find a used car, kitchen appliances and "like-new" TV sets? Heaven help us! Haven't we any other resources?

Not all of us can go to an Ivy League college and meet Mr. or Ms. Right on campus, nor do we work in a profession that allows us a large circle of acquaintances with similar interests. Take night classes? Do volunteer work? Know what we'll find? Two hundred women in full war paint, and one cowering male.

For some of us, personal ads are the perfect solution. I met my wonderful husband when he responded to an ad I placed many years ago. Our son is now in college, and our marriage is the envy of our friends. Using personals to find a wealthy man who looks like a movie star is nonsense, but for the discerning, sane and sensible, the personals are the way to go.

A.G. in Hollywood, Calif.

Thanks for your vote of approval on the personals. I was unprepared for the blizzard of letters from readers who also sang the praises of those ads. Keep reading for some others:

From Freeport, N.Y.: My wife and I met through a personal ad, and have been happily married for five years. I resent being categorized as "pretty desperate." After my first wife died, I spent a year grieving. When time passed and I felt the need for companionship, I didn't feel comfortable being "fixed up" by friends and relatives, and so I placed a blind ad in the personals. Granted, it required some judicious screening and mature judgment to find a wife through an ad in the paper, but it was the perfect solution for me.

Boston: I was 39 and had never been married. The divorced gentleman I met through the personals proved to be everything I had hoped for. We hit it off on the telephone, and arranged to meet in a public place. His ad was completely truthful. We both were in the high-tech industry, had excellent careers, and were too busy to run around looking for a mate. We married one year after our first date, and will soon celebrate our eighth wedding anniversary. Personal ads are not for everyone, Ann, but after a certain age, it is difficult to meet people via the traditional channels. Most quality people are already married. I have a wonderful life with this fabulous man, and get along well with my three stepchildren. His ad was God's answer to my prayers.

Dear Ann:

One of your readers asked what kind of people look for a soul mate in the personal ads of a newspaper. Well, I can tell you. They are the losers, the damn fools, the morons and the desperate. I know what I am talking about, because I was one of them. When I discovered the man I had been living with for three years was sleeping with my divorced sister, I had been tied up with the louse for so long, I no longer had any legitimate social contacts. So, I decided to try the personals.

After sifting through 55 responses, the one I settled on (and nearly married) turned out to be an ex-con -- a bigamist who was wanted in four states. From now on, I'm sticking with the squares I meet in church. They may not be exciting, but they are a heck of a lot safer.

Sadder But Wiser

Sometimes, we have to be "Sadder" before we become "Wiser." Thanks for the frank testimony.

(C) 1999, Creators Syndicate Inc.

To find out more about Ann Landers and read her past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.