Tuesday, 04 October 2011
Sometimes when I was in college, alone in my dorm room and procrastinating on a paper, I'd read the Craigslist Missed Connections. While some can be creepy, and it's often misused to send messages to people the poster can easily contact in real life, some are truly romantic. What do you do when, out of nowhere, you feel something for a total stranger you'll probably only ever run into once? Sure, it could just be lust, but maybe you really can feel a zing of chemistry without ever speaking to the person.
When I read them fairly frequently, I'm not afraid to admit that I always hoped I'd see one that I would recognize as myself. I don't know if I'd even answer it if I found one (I see the kind of guys who check me out, and I walk away as fast as possible), but I think maybe that section of Craigslist is the last bastion of romance in this cruel world. As Andy Warhol said, "Fantasy love is much better than reality love. Never doing it is very exciting. The most exciting attractions are between two opposites that never meet." Isn't the time before you really know someone the most exciting and romantic? You start spending time with them, maybe you sleep with them, and that fantasy world of perfection dies, beaten over the head by reality.
Isn't your ideal fantasy man who may or may not come along in the future much better than your boyfriend, that poor sucker who dwells in reality? He's definitely better than the douches you go on one to three dates with and then never hear from again. That stranger at a bar who you lock eyes with and maybe smile at, or the guy who stares at you for several stops without you ever knowing, could longingly write a post about you later that you might never read. How wonderful is that? You're a fantasy woman for someone out there. Sure, he might be bald or smell bad or even be a huge jerk. And maybe he'd get to know you a little and his fantasy would be overtaken by reality too. But like Warhol pointed out, never meeting--that longing and wondering--is the best part.
While I'm sure I've had plenty more missed connections that a period of heavy drinking and/or bitterness long ago wiped away, two stand out the most vividly.
One was just a few months ago, a guy in the liquor store who stared at me while I considered the vodka selection, and then asked my opinion on what he should pair with his Baja Mountain Dew from Taco Bell, even offering me a sip. I had been in a relationship for a few months at that point, was happy enough with it, and so politely declined and skittered away to pay for my Yellow Tail Merlot and Skyy. I can't blame my awkwardness on having a boyfriend--single me probably would've still gotten flustered and avoided the situation. And maybe he wasn't even flirting with me. But the encounter will stick with me for a long time.
The other was less interesting, a boy I saw at an off-campus party early in 2009, when I was a sophomore in college. A boy whose face I can't recall at all now, but who I stood next to for a few minutes and wished would ask me to dance. He was clearly into a thoroughly average-looking girl who was flirtatiously dancing with a few other more forward guys. I could see in his eyes how badly he wished he were different and could go for what he wanted, and I deeply identified with that longing.
Maybe that's the point of the Craigslist Missed Connections. We can throw our hopes out there, ones we're about 99 percent sure are never going to be fulfilled. But that one percent chance of reaching the actual person we encountered and couldn't work up the nerve to talk to isn't really why we post them or read them. It's to acknowledge that part of ourselves that we could be, the part that wouldn't quickly exit the liquor store or stand against a wall at a crowded party. Our fantasy versions of ourselves are just as far-fetched, yet romantic, as the personalities we dream up for the attractive strangers we encounter.
Do you read Craigslist Missed Connections? Ever been mentioned in one?