The Mystery of Mellisa

Excerpted from Alf's London Journal

Friday, September 24, 1999

Someone hates Mellisa. Someone hates her enough to tear her photograph.

Someone hates her enough to rip her photograph into little pieces.

Someone hates her enough to stomp a hole through her photograph, apparently with a pointy high heel shoe.

Someone hates her enough to kick her photograph into the muddy street after scribbling on her with a pen.

Could someone hate her because of her looks ... because of her nationality? In Mellisa's own words: "I'm half English and half Puerto Rican, 19 years old, with beautiful olive skin, long brown hair, 36-24-36 figure, 5'5" height."

Perhaps. Perhaps not. Mellisa is just one of the hundreds of women who niche-market their services in London telephone booths. While mainstream service providers stick to such standard message carriers as billboards and window displays, the Mellisas decorate the otherwise drab interiors of phone kiosks with their tart cards. Some of these invitations to negotiate are vague and only suggest what is on the other end of the line. Others jump right ahead and promise the standard missionary approved sacrament. Further afield: many tart cards unashamedly tender a deep cafeteria of bewildering stimulations that employ tools such as "bondage benches," "internals," "racks," and "chattering dwarfs."

Even though President Clinton, just days ago, dumped a dozen Puerto Rican terrorists back onto the streets of New York, it's not likely that Mellisa's enemy is a distant victim. So, her lineage probably did not get her into this round of nuisance.

That leaves either a dissatisfied customer or the wife of a satisfied customer. The former can be ruled out. The British Trade Descriptions Act gives the British consumer adequate legal redress in the event that the product that he purchases or the services that he pays for are not up to snuff. Enough said there.

So, we are left with an unhappy wife. Either she has sniffed her way back to where her husband started, or she has discovered the offending tart card in his pocket. It's now quite simple. The only thing left in her life is to pass each and every day patrolling West End phone booths doing damage to Mellisa's advertisements.

Luckily for the history of advertising, I found one complete Mellisa.

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