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cupid's needle in a haystack
you looked hot at the bar so now i'm stalking you
by mike julianelle
pop culture

Here in Boston there's a free biweekly newspaper called The Improper Bostonian. It’s for broke snobs that can’t afford the subscription to the even snobbier Boston Magazine, except the Bostonian doesn’t actually have articles, just ads that they pretend are articles. Whenever I’m in the mood for info on the best way to blow $500 on a beauty makeover, I turn to the Bostonian, and, as luck would have it, I work at a bar that serves as one of the magazine's distribution centers. And trust me, I need a makeover. So I read the thing more than I'd care to admit.

We also stock a bunch of different Brewery publications, but no one reads those, do they? Besides me, that is. (By the way, does anyone have a copy of last month’s "Yankee Brewery Journal"? I missed that issue and need it for my collection of Incredibly Useless Pieces of Shit. I'll keep it next to my Whisper 2000).

Anyway, I read the Bostonian all the time, not because I like it, but because it’s there, it’s free, and I often have a lot of time to kill. To be fair, it’s not totally without its merits. Once they ran a picture of local Helen-of-Troy-type Eliza Dushku. Plus, there are two sections I make sure to read every time I pick up a copy. The first is the movie reviews, because I’m a junkie for the film-focused written word, and the other is something called the Improper Impersonals.

The Improper Impersonals have long been a guilty pleasure of mine, and now they are beginning to spawn imitators with names like “Second Chances” and “Missed Connections” and “Pipe Dreams for Matt Morin, et al”. What they are is an entertaining variation on personal ads that, instead of trying to match up people who share similar interests, try to match up people who share similar commutes.

Actually, they exist for the purpose of linking together singles who don’t have the balls to talk to members of the opposite sex, but are confident as hell when it comes to writing coded and anonymous love letters that are both painfully farfetched and pathetically expectant. These ads appeal to the fearless casanovas out there who can't bear to take the first step, people desperately in need of a Frank T.J. Mackey seminar. Obviously there are a lot of them out there, because these types of ads are everywhere now, primarily on that hotbed of debasement and stupidity we call the Internet, but also in print.

The ads are intended to help people reconnect with the cute guy or gal they made eye contact with on the commuter rail last week. Or the hot Bed, Bath and Beyond clerk who said something that might have maybe been intended to possibly be a kind of come-on. Sure, all she said was, “Have a nice day!” but the inflection in her voice conveyed some kind of primal longing, and when you looked back over your shoulder she was clearly sending you more signals by talking to the next customer in line and jerking her head towards you when she sneezed.

Forget the question of whether or not such timid and passive dreamers even deserve to meet and have their romantic fanasties fulfilled through this kind of manufactured serendipity. We shan't judge them, even if most people have to work extra hard to find their one-and-only; look at Wilt Chamberlain and Larry King (I guess sometimes it takes a while and you've gotta give everyone a shot). I can't entirely begrudge people for using these ads as a short-cut to true love, though it's easy to make fun of them once you read their pleas.

Let's do a hypothetical here. Get inside the mind of one of these people.

Say you have a nice conversation with a salesman at a used car dealership. He’s looks nice in his suit and has a full head of hair but you're busy shopping for a car, so whatever. You barely give it another thought until you get home. Once you settle down into another lonely night of JAG reruns, your brain somehow manipulates you into thinking that the salesman, instead of being a typical go-getter aggressively looking for a commission, he was actually quite smitten with you. He wanted to flirt with you but you didn’t have the nerve. It’s pretty obvious that he wanted you and you wanted him and you are soul mates but you blew it so you might as well hit the bottle and get back to living your life alone and angry, right?

Well, chin up. Those are the old days! Now that you've realized, through the blurry haze of intoxicated hindsight, how right you are for each other, wait on putting the finishing touches on your noose and take a chance on romance! Flirt back into the void by taking out one of those newfangled personal ads! Before giving up and downing that Drano cocktail, you might try posting something like this:

I talked to you at the car dealership when you asked if I needed help, and I didn’t realize it til I got home and got really high later but I'm sure you were checking me out. Sorry I was so shy, but I didn’t realize til I got home and got really drunk later that you were cute. But you had a full head of hair and you were aggressively pushing a Cherokee on me. I did’t realize til I got home and got really horny later that you had your hand on my ass. I hope you see this. I’d love to see what the Cherokee looks like with you in it. Naked. Email me back, let’s close this deal.

Hypothetical over. I'm sorry, I need to get out of this person's head because that's just sad.

This attempt at starting something out of nothing, of turning even the tiniest possibility that the person you noticed also noticed you(!) into a crusade to find true love is so American, so effortless yet so entitled, that it can’t help but make me laugh. But it also makes me curious. As pathetic as it all seems, I'm pretty pathetic myself. I'm certainly not above much of anything, if anything at all, and I'm a regular guy looking for that special someone. So I’ve decided that my new goal in life is to get mentioned in one of these things.

But until that day, I’m going to put my heart on my sleeve and put my love for my unknown stranger out on the line. If God is with me, and we know he is, because I’m an American, I’ll reap some sexy rewards from my little love missive. Check it out. If you know this girl, find a soapbox and shout about it. Maybe we can get clean together:

I saw you at the Spoon concert the other night. You were being escorted out by a gentleman I assume wasn’t your boyfriend because he was wearing EMT gear and your eyes were shut. He was helping you work your legs. You almost made it to the door but passed out at my feet on the way. Your EMT pal tried to resuscitate you, I was quite jealous. I bet you taste like Jaeger. You were wearing a red Creeper Lagoon T-shirt and your hair was the most beautiful shade of auburn. You are so cute when you drool and can’t speak. I’d love to pump your stomach sometime. If you remember me or think you might have remembered me if you weren't blacked out, get back.

P.S. I have an extra liver.


Let's get real here. You don't want to know about me. You want to know about "me".

more about mike julianelle


poker face
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by mike julianelle
topic: pop culture
published: 8.6.10

misshapen identity
is your dvr your dna?
by mike julianelle
topic: pop culture
published: 5.6.09


matt morin
4.16.03 @ 1:00a

Surprise, surprise, I actually posted a "missed connections" to Craig's List once.

I was at a concert. It was really loud, making conversation impossible. I was with a group of married people, leaving me without a wingman. And she was with a group of 4 women, making it pretty much impossible to just wade in and start talking to her.

But we made enough eye contact and smiled at each other enough, when I got home I thought, what do I have to lose? I figured the odds were way against it, but it's better than doing nothing.

Although in this case, the results were exactly the same as doing nothing.

robert melos
4.16.03 @ 2:42a

Interesting. I never thought like this, much. I mean, I'd never consider putting into writing my desperate hope that the cute home inspector might've been hitting on me when he said he would be alone all weekend anyway, so looking at a handyman special would fill up a few hours.

On second thought, I hope he meant the house was a handyman special, and not me.

Sorry, had to vent.

That line about God being on your side because you're an American is classic. Very funny stuff.

michelle von euw
4.16.03 @ 9:20a

Thanks for busting on the Improper Bostonian, Mike.

But I do get your point -- I'm so intrigued by that section, and I read it all the time. To put it simply: people watch too many movies. Hollywood has taught us that fate plays a bigger role in a relationship than anything else, and the idea that one's soulmate got off the 66 bus one stop too early on February 21 is just too much for some people not to send it in.

erik myers
4.16.03 @ 9:35a

I was with a group of married people, leaving me without a wingman. And she was with a group of 4 women, making it pretty much impossible to just wade in and start talking to her.

!! How is that impossible? You just have to walk over and start talking!

Shy and gutless. Without a wingman, my foot. That's why you get for taking Maxim's pickup tips seriously.

Anyway, on topic, I've often been really curious about these. So much of this whole deal relies on random chance. Not only does the person you notice have to notice you, but that person also has to hopelessly desperate enough to read the personals, and on top of that, they have to read the same set of personals that you're posting to.

You're right, Mike. It's so American it's not even funny. It's the same reason that people get married on game shows.. oh.. excuse me... reality series.

michelle von euw
4.16.03 @ 9:42a

Erik, don't get me started on that...by the way, no one got married on Married by America. What crap.

jael mchenry
4.16.03 @ 9:52a

They have "I Saw You" in the Washington City Paper and they're all gold. The ones that make me laugh are the insanely vague. "Tuesday, Metro Center. You: blondish-brownish hair, cute. Me: shy, backpack. Coffee?"

russ carr
4.16.03 @ 10:02a

Eeek. There were some choice ones in there when I visited you last summer, Jael, but I don't recall if they were in the "I Saw You" section. I thought there were a couple we chuckled over and rehashed at IMIC for the benefit of the group.

jeff miller
4.16.03 @ 10:08a

I'm a bored and lonely house-husband, so when you put that ticket on my windshield I couldn't help but notice you. I watched you out of my living room window, and I knew that you knew that I was watching you when you dropped your pen and bent over to pick it up. I wanted to go out, pretending to check my mail so I could smile at you awkwardly and maybe wave, but just then the cat threw up on my loafers. Give me a chance to contest that ticket?

russ carr
4.16.03 @ 10:13a

Oh yeah: "Hot Judge Judy." Snarf.

erik myers
4.16.03 @ 10:25a

"Tuesday, Metro Center. You: blondish-brownish hair, cute. Me: shy, backpack. Coffee?"

Maybe by being vague enough they hope to get at least somebody to respond. And then figure that their natural charm and wittiness (that obviously drives them to leave ads) will do the rest?

jael mchenry
4.16.03 @ 10:37a

HOT JUDGE JUDY. I think that was a personal.

Erik, I'd buy your reasoning, only when there's no indication of gender, they'd have to do quite a bit of sifting through responses.

erik myers
4.16.03 @ 10:41a

It'd be great without punctuation.

"Tuesday Metro Center You blondish-brownish hair cute Me shy backpack coffee"

I'd be interested as to whether or not people actually respond to these. How many of these could really be successful? The people who are attractive enough to get people to notice them on public transit and actually post a personal are not the type of people who need to look at personals to get a date.

How do we find statistics on this? Matt -- you're the stats man, you're really good at finding these things. You got anything on these kinds of personals?

mike julianelle
4.16.03 @ 10:56a

I read the best one of all time last a few days ago, in the Imrpoper. Some chick was pissed that some fatass guy had kept walking buy her and pressing his critch into her ass, so she cut him down bigtime in this Impersonal thing, and then at the end she added this kicker: "Got news for you sport. I'm actually a guy named Hank who just likes to feel pretty sometimes. I guess you never know."


russ carr
4.16.03 @ 11:05a

What's more, Erik -- what about the people who think it's directed at them, contact the person who placed that ad, they arrange to get together and then the advertiser sees the person and says, "Ew. No. You're not him." And walks away.

matt morin
4.16.03 @ 11:28a

I've got to say, I don't see where all the venom is coming from for these people. Sure, when they're vague the likelihood of the ad working is zero. Sure, the likelihood of them working at all is close to zero, but where's the harm?

It's like making fun of a kid who puts up a "Lost. Black lab puppy" sign on a telephone pole.

I don't think it has anything to do with watching too many movies. And if anything it's anti-fate. People aren't totally sitting around waiting for something to happen to them. They're out doing what they can.


mike julianelle
4.16.03 @ 11:32a

That's the point, no they're not. If they were, they'd do it in person. Or at a sex club.

"I saw your naked chest last nite, I'd like to get to know it. I was the guy with the Gimp mask."

michelle von euw
4.16.03 @ 11:37a

Matt, one of the three plots a romantic comedy is allowed to have is "chance meeting." IMO, people who place these ads don't want to miss out on their own John Cusack.

matt morin
4.16.03 @ 11:44a

But I don't think anyone sees someone on a bus, wants to ask them out, but then thinks "Oh, I know! I'll take out a missed connections ad instead."

For whatever reason - she's at the front of the bus and you're at the back, or she got off right before you got up the nerve to go talk to her, or maybe it was nighttime and you didn't want to freak her out by approaching her - whatever, then later you realized you should have.

Instead of just giving up, you do the only thing you can. I don't see any harm in that.

mike julianelle
4.16.03 @ 11:46a

There isn't really any harm in it. Everyone likes secret admirers, and it's kind of fun. But it's still a bit desperate, and I'm funnier when I'm mean. So there.

erik myers
4.16.03 @ 12:05p

Instead of just giving up, you do the only thing you can. I don't see any harm in that.

I completely disagree. There's another option: Suck it up and grow a spine next next time.

ETA: Actually, it might be harmful. You raise the expectation of the normal American that love is this thing that you find spontaneously on the subway. When it doesn't work out, people say screw it, get divorced, and move onto the next unsuspecting trolley passenger.

You wanna know why the current divorce rate is so high? It's crap like this.

And Married in America. And maybe You've Got Mail.


matt morin
4.16.03 @ 12:18p

From now on Erik will be known as Mr. Overreaction.

Who said anything about love and getting married? You see someone in the grocery store. You think she's cute. She leaves before you go talk to her. It's no different than any other dating situation, except the window of opportunity was super short. And there's almost zero chance ot having the opportunity again. So why not throw something out there that might keep the window open a little longer.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

russ carr
4.16.03 @ 12:25p

It's all Nora Ephron's fault.

I tease, but I agree. If you're not going to put in the time up front, why should you expect the payoff at the end? While I hope most people don't expect that the relationships on the various meet-a-mate reality shows are going to pan out, how many doofi are thinking Trista or Evan, rather than actually pursuing a real relationship? After all, if the couple on TV can walk down the aisle after 8 episodes, so can we!

erik myers
4.16.03 @ 12:25p

Overreaction? Nah. I just like pushing people's buttons.

Who said anything about love and getting married?

I did. I'm making a correlation.

She leaves before you go talk to her. It's no different than any other dating situation, except the window of opportunity was super short. And there's almost zero chance ot having the opportunity again. So why not throw something out there that might keep the window open a little longer.

Because it's desperate, and that's a turnoff. If you really want to pick up chicks in random places, like the grocery store, grow a set of balls and go talk to them. Posting an ad is just sad.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

See, that's exactly my point. If you go talk to someone, the worst they can tell you is, "I'm sorry, I'm not interested." If you can convince yourself that the person you sat next to on the bus is your long lost soul mate and that the way to get in touch with them (rather than riding the bus at the same time in the same place and hoping for a chance meeting, which is actually DOING something proactive) is to post an ad in random periodical -- you've got bigger problems.

jael mchenry
4.16.03 @ 12:27p

Doofi. Heh heh.

russ carr
4.16.03 @ 12:28p

It's also a grand assumption that the person you're attempting to reach is pathetic enough to be reading those ads, hoping against hope that some helpless schmuck noticed her and is reaching out.

mike julianelle
4.16.03 @ 12:30p

It must be pretty nuts, though, when you picked up on a vibe, posted one of these things, and got a rela response from the right person. If that ever happens.

matt morin
4.16.03 @ 12:32p

I'm not arguing that it's likely any of these things work. All I'm saying is, it takes 2 minutes to write and post one of these ads. It cost nothing (online anyway). And there is a small chance it could work. So why not do it?

Not doing it because you think she'll never read it is like not asking her out because you think she'll say no.

erik myers
4.16.03 @ 12:41p

Not doing it because you think she'll never read it is like not asking her out because you think she'll say no.

No it's not. It's accepting the fact that you should have done something in the first place. Moving on, and doing better next time. It's learning from your mistakes rather than dwelling on them.

Not asking her out because you think she'll say no is just low self-esteem.

matt morin
4.16.03 @ 12:48p

So you think you only get one chance ever and if you let that chance pass (even if it only lasts a minute or two), then forget about it?

sarah ficke
4.16.03 @ 12:53p

I think that, while some people might fall for it, I'd just be really creeped out. If someone sees me on the bus every morning and eventually gets the balls to talk to me (and he isn't gross) that's cool, but if he takes out a personal ad it seems a bit cowardly. And if he'd only seen me on the bus once before, well, that's just odd.

russ carr
4.16.03 @ 1:04p

If, in that minute or two, you shared with that other person not merely a casual glance, but a look which miraculously communicated the totality of your hopes, dreams and desires, and found the other person sympatico, then, yeah. Maybe. But y'know, if you truly "shared a moment," where there was more than a mere perception of mutual interest, what kept you glued to your seat, or what kept your lips clenched?

Otherwise, the message is: "I wasn't interested enough when I saw you before, but now that I've had a week to fantasize about 'What if...' I'm convinced that we'd be great together, so I'm going to attempt to find you with a vague message in the personals."

If (when I was single) I posted an ad for every woman I thought I'd like to "get to know better" (*cough*) after scoping her on the subway, or in a restaurant, or whatever, you'd need a much larger newspaper. What's the lightning bolt that causes someone to think this chance moment is any different from any of the other chance moments in their day? Get over it, you desperate wretches -- if you were really that memorable, you'd have talked to each other at the time.

tracey kelley
4.16.03 @ 1:08p

I think the energy spent reading and posting ads like these could be better spent actually getting out and meeting real people.

Matt* has the best story ever. We met. I lived far away, but we exchanged biz cards anyway. He waited the "requisite" 3 days to call, but even then lamented over what to say.

Our mutual friend Dan, who worked with Matt* at the time, leaned over to him and said, "I know EXACTLY what you should say when you call her! How 'bout 'hello'?"

erik myers
4.16.03 @ 1:09p

Exactly, Russ.

Matt -- you only get one chance ever, unless you happen to run into them again. And god help you if you say something like, "Oh my god, I'm so glad I ran into you. I've been thinking about you since I saw you once on the bus 3 months ago."


There are something like 3.6 billion women in the world, why focus on the one you saw by chance in the subway?

matt morin
4.16.03 @ 1:12p

If, in that minute or two, you shared with that other person not merely a casual glance, but a look which miraculously communicated the totality of your hopes, dreams and desires, and found the other person sympatico, then, yeah.

So the very first minute you saw Kathy this is what happened to you? I doubt it. You probably saw her, thought she was cute, and went to talk to her.

Now imagine as you were going to talk to her, she got off the bus. Now what?

It doesn't necessarily mean the person didn't have the balls, or was too chicken, or is just hoping for fate, or sat around for weeks fantasizing about it. All it means is, they saw someone who they thought was cute, but didn't have the time to talk to them. And the ads don't say they love them, or want to have their babies. The ads are basically saying, get ahold of me, I'd like to talk to you.

erik myers
4.16.03 @ 1:24p

All it means is, they saw someone who they thought was cute, but didn't have the time to talk to them.

So, suck it up and deal. If you didn't have the time, tough. You could have gotten off the bus, too, if you were that interested. If getting to Starbucks before your 10:30 meeting to get a latte won out, then what's the big deal anyway?

russ carr
4.16.03 @ 1:24p

Actually, no, I was hot for her roommate. The first time I saw her, my thoughts were probably along the lines of, "Wow. Hot girl." Kathy was too sexy for me to even think of approaching at the time. It took us nine years of friendship and on-again, off-again dating before we got married.

But if I'd passed her at a bus stop or whatever, then I'd've probably just thought, "Wow. Hot girl." And then gone on with my life, fostering a relationship with someone else, with whom time and place weren't against me.

matt morin
4.16.03 @ 1:33p

But that's my point exactly. You had the luxury of saying "Wow. Hot girl" and then getting to know her, letting the relationship grow, than having it work out.

The people who post to Missed Connections don't have that luxury, but they still want to give it a shot.

erik myers
4.16.03 @ 1:36p

Matt. The people posting to these things aren't only meeting people on the bus. And if they are, they don't need to post ads, they need to get out more.

matt morin
4.16.03 @ 1:42p

Everyone always gave me shit when I limited myself to an age range or women who didn't live outside the city. But now you're saying "Don't meet people on the bus, at a concert, or in a department store?"

All I'm saying is, it's hard enough to meet anyone these days. It makes no sense not to try every way you can to meet someone you already know you're at least physically attracted to.

russ carr
4.16.03 @ 1:45p

The hell they don't have that luxury. They just don't have it with the person they glanced at. If that's so crippling to them, they're better off not dating anyway; they'd just be screwing up other people's lives with their desperate pining for some ideal mate who doesn't exist.

My point was, I would've gone on, I wouldn't have sat in my apartment every night bawling in my ramen because I missed my one chance at lurrrve.

michelle von euw
4.16.03 @ 1:48p

OK, I think what my point is, that maybe these people are still single because they hold onto this ideal of "the girl on the bus" instead of taking the time to get to know the people already in their lives -- the people that they've written off because they don't fit their concept of a perfect soulmate.


russ carr
4.16.03 @ 1:49p

These people aren't "meeting" on a bus. They're not "meeting" anywhere. Not if they're not communicating enough to relate who they are to each other, if only a first name. If there's no interaction, it's not "meeting," it's just "observing." You can meet people on the bus, at a concert, in a sex club; but you haven't met them if you don't know who they are.

matt morin
4.16.03 @ 1:50p

Michelle, totally true. But just like you're saying they shouldn't write off the people already in their lives, I don't think they should necessarily write off the people on the bus, either.

erik myers
4.16.03 @ 1:54p

All I'm saying is, it's hard enough to meet anyone these days. It makes no sense not to try every way you can to meet someone you already know you're at least physically attracted to.

I'm not disagreeing with you. I'm saying that posting an ad in a personals column is a cop out on actually taking an action.

"Oh, I should have said something."

Fine. You should have. So, NEXT TIME, say something. It might not be the same person, but you can't tell me that you only see cute people on the bus, or in a department store, once in a blue moon.

They're there EVERY DAY. So, basically, to these people that post these ads, I say: Grow a spine and talk to the next cute guy or girl that you see. The next person that you're attracted to on public transit, and see what happens. If you can't think of anything to say now, fuck it. Come up with something to say, and talk to the next person you see.

Meeting people is the easy part. It's the forming the lasting relationship that's hard. Take one step at a time.

russ carr
4.16.03 @ 1:55p

Michelle: exactly. And if you don't have those other people already in your life, it's your own fault. Put down the mouse and the Jergens and go hang out at Starbucks. Or get a job where you actually have to interact with co-workers.

erik myers
4.16.03 @ 1:55p

I don't think they should necessarily write off the people on the bus, either.

You're right, Matt. They shouldn't. But if they can't get the guts up to talk to the people on the bus they should expect the people on the bus to be getting back to them.

michelle von euw
4.16.03 @ 1:58p

Well, if the bus ride was two weeks ago and you didn't make a move, probably the heathliest thing to do would be to write off the bus person. And, like Erik says, keep this in mind next time someone catches your eye.

erik myers
4.16.03 @ 2:01p

Anybody ever see Ghost World?

Thora Birch, Steve Buscemi?

mike julianelle
4.16.03 @ 2:06p

Yes. Very good. Why?

erik myers
4.16.03 @ 2:08p

Well.. the trigger of the plot is that Buscemi's character has placed an ad in the paper that says, "Hey.. I saw you at the airport, blah blah blah... call me." and Thora Birch answers it just to watch the loser anguish.

I mean.. it's what we're talking about, right?


mike julianelle
4.16.03 @ 2:11p

Yeah, yeah. Forgot about that ad. It ends up working for him in the movie, eventually.

Look, some people are desperate and wussy. Some people do it on a lark. some people meet at a bar and lose numbers. There are lots of reasons people do these things. Are they any more desperate than reguar personals? I dunno, but they are a hell of a lot more entertaining.

matt morin
4.16.03 @ 2:16p

Yeah, at the very least they're entertaining. Here's one I just saw on Craig's List:

Sunday at Pennsylvania & 23rd.

I stopped your patrol car to ask your partner (he was driving - you were shotgun) a question. Near the end of my brief conversation, you sat up and that's when I noticed how you. Should've said HI but your partner was done talking to me. You caught me driving off staring at you.

Does anyone know this brunette? She has an unbelievable smile. Her partner is a young male blonde cop in the P. Hill area.

Please help...woman in uni's......mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.


erik myers
4.16.03 @ 2:18p


Which one is she hitting on?

adam kraemer
4.16.03 @ 2:36p

Wait, Eric, you're suggesting that people with low self-esteem (or at least too low to approach a stranger in a grocery store) should never meet the right person? What if they don't get out more? These ads are a slight step up from just non-directional personals. Do you have a problem with those?

And besides, I personally think it would be creepy to approach a girl in the subway. She doesn't know you. But if the two of you did share a look, then you've both got some vindication of that, at least. "Get some balls," is a lot easier said than done. Also, I think it's a little ballsy to have the temerity to assume that the look you gave her was the same one she was giving you.

And on a final point, Michelle, you were disparaging the romantic comedy idea of a "chance meeting." Aren't all meetings by chance? Even the ones where you're set up by a mutual friend; what are the odds that you would know the same person? If you have proof that love can be derived from something other than chance, please let me know. Until then, I'll be over here, firmly ensconced in the "timing is everything" camp.

russ carr
4.16.03 @ 2:42p

If you have proof that love can be derived from something other than chance, please let me know.

But chance is only chance for a second. Once you're together -- by whatever mechanism put you into proximity -- then it's not up to chance, it's up to choice. You can choose to do nothing, or you can choose to act.

erik myers
4.16.03 @ 2:47p

I have no problem with non-directional personals. It's so much less desperate. It's more like putting an ad out selling yourself.

So, yeah... it's like prostitution in a way, I suppose.

But really, it's desperate, but not nearly as desperate as saying, "I saw you in Grand Central. You were in black with high heels, I was in black with glasses. Let's meet up!"

I mean, come on.

And you're right, "Get some balls" is a lot easier said than done, but it's really as easy as walking up and saying, "Hi."

I am, however, with you. It's creepy to meet people on the bus, or on the subway, or in the grocery store or whatever. It's not the place I would choose to meet somebody.

99% of the people that I've gone out with I've met through doing activities I enjoyed, and thus met somebody with common interests aside from riding the 57 bus into work in the morning.

"So. You ride the bus, too, huh?"

adam kraemer
4.16.03 @ 2:57p

Well, right. But I've definitely been in that position - saw a girl on my train, obviously she lives nearby, but, as we said, the subway is icky. I don't know that I'd ever do one of these lists, but it wouldn't be any more harm than just hoping to see her again. With the many millions of people on the subway, that's not really a likely scenario. And I don't like the idea that if you miss your first chance, you don't get a second one. Not to dwell on missed opportunities, but to create a new opportunity.

And Russ, that's still what I'm talking about. If I put an ad in one of these things, and the girl I'm talking about actually sees it and responds, isn't that just as chancy (and maybe fateful) as if I happened to walk into the right bar on the right night or if I happened to attend the birthday party of the right friend? You can't plan these things, so why not create a medium where people get another chance at chance?

russ carr
4.16.03 @ 3:03p

If she answers, then you were obviously meant for each other...because (as I stated above) she was as desperate to be found as you were desperate to look.

heather millen
4.16.03 @ 3:04p

Mike, I can't be sure but I think maybe I saw you in a porn the other night. And I know you were looking mainly at the camera, but while I was watching, I just got this special feeling that look was meant for me. And I don't know if you felt it, but I think you did and I have to say that I just got this amazing feeling and...

russ carr
4.16.03 @ 3:05p

...and then the batteries died and the moment passed.


matt morin
4.16.03 @ 3:23p

Don't toy with the boy, Heather. Now he's off milking his weasel somewhere...ew.

erik myers
4.16.03 @ 3:25p

And saying to himself, "How did that tape get out?"

adam kraemer
4.16.03 @ 3:27p

That was funny, Heather; I wonder what your real reaction would be if you saw one of us in a porn film.

And, Russ, why is it considered desperation if you want another chance at a missed moment? I took the SATs twice and you can't even take them out on a date.

erik myers
4.16.03 @ 3:32p

The SATs have nothing to do with chance.

The thing is that there are no second chances on missed moments. You missed the moment. It's gone. So goes the passing of time.

Spend the time capatilizing on the next moment rather than trying to recreate something that's gone by.

heather millen
4.16.03 @ 3:38p

Okay, it's nothing like the SATs. First off, the SATs last more than a nanosecond. Time and effort are put into them.

It's not like these people even had a date. Or knew the guy from Adam (no pun intended). It was one brief moment.

And if you just let it pass you by, then it's your loss. If you REALLY think that all of your life's happiness rests on this one moment, you should have went for it when you had the chance.

matt morin
4.16.03 @ 3:38p

Yeah, but that's what these people are trying to do - create a next moment with a person instead of only getting an extremely fleeting one.

erik myers
4.16.03 @ 3:58p

But that's the flaw, don't you see? The person is gone, the moment is gone.

Move on!

Create a moment with the next person.

Heather's right. If you blew it, tough luck. Life's not fair. It's not all fluffy clouds and puppies. At some point, people have to sit up and realize, "Hey! I blew my chance!" Take responsibility for your inaction!

adam kraemer
4.16.03 @ 4:05p

Fuck that. If there's a way out there to correct a mistake you thought you made, I say take it. Jesus, you people are harsh. Not everyone has the unshakable egos and perfect timing that you do, I suppose.

And it's not "trying to recreate something that's gone by." It's trying to say, "hey; I might have erred here. Can I correct it?" It's not like these people are spending money or more than two minutes of time to do it. Life and love are hard enough without some arbitrary rules about what's an acceptible action and what isn't. I say do whatever you can (within reason, of course) to find that person. If it means debasing yourself a little, fucking do it. Beats spending your life alone because Erik announced that your moment was gone forever.

russ carr
4.16.03 @ 4:07p

But consider that the other person may not have a clue you were looking at him. In that case, there wasn't even a "first" moment to say that you're working on a "next" moment. What sane person would waste her time trying to get the attention of someone who didn't notice her to begin with, given that she knows nothing about him beyond that he's attractive and happened to be standing in line at the bank ahead of her? It's like throwing a message in a bottle into the ocean, expecting it to reach a specific destination and a particular recipient...and then expecting that person to write back.

margot lester
4.16.03 @ 4:09p

wow. sadly, i don't have all day to cruise through these posts, but i skimmed 'em and they're funny as hell.

yes, some people are lame and shy and desperate and scary. for them, missed connections, etc. are like a cheap version of theradate.com where you can meet other people in therapy who're just as fucked up as you!

others are just willing to take a whacky chance. what's the harm in it on the seriously off chance your intended might actually read it?

it's clear from our unscientific survey here that a lot of people *do* read them, even if it's only to mock, so.....

it sure beats the hell out of date-an-inmate.com.

michelle von euw
4.16.03 @ 4:10p

I have a difficult time believing that placing an ad in a paper for a person you don't know, didn't speak to, maybe glanced at, in a paper you don't even know if that person reads would be the one thing keeping someone from spending a lifetime alone.

erik myers
4.16.03 @ 4:11p

Because you only ever saw one person you ever thought was cute, is that it?

I'm not being nihilistic, I'm just saying, "There are better things to do with your time and energy."

You're not correcting any mistakes by posting this kind of ad, you're just wallowing in regret.

margot lester
4.16.03 @ 4:18p

dang, i wish i had the time to pore over each of these posts, but the skim was certainly fun.

here's my two cents: yeah, some of the people who place those ads are lame or scary or shy or desperate. for them, it might be like a free version of thera-date.com, where you can meet and date people in therapy who're just as fucked up as you. or date-an-inmate.com, where you can woo someone behind bars. THAT is scary and desperate.

but for some people, it's just a way to take a chance. what's the harm in placing the ad? it might work, and if it doesn't, no harm, no foul.

our unscientific survey here shows that people do read these, even if it's just for entertainment. so i reckon it could actually happen that you'd meet someone cool. it's just another form of online dating, i guess.


matt morin
4.16.03 @ 4:19p

Ok, so you see someone who's cute. You make eye contact a few times. You smile at each other. She gets off the bus.

So you run an ad. No response. Maybe she never saw the ad. Maybe she saw the ad and didn't remember you. Maybe she saw the ad and was smiling at you because you had a candy corn stuck to your face.

Where's the harm? At least you made an effort and tried. To me that's a lot better than saying, "Ah fuck it. It never would have happened anyway" and giving up.

russ carr
4.16.03 @ 4:21p

You were paralyzed by an unwillingness to act in the moment when it happened. Now you're equally paralyzed w/r/t moving on with your life because you can't get past "what might have been." Then you're paralyzed with inaction while you wait and hope that your anonymous plea is answered. You have bound yourself to this brief instant, creating expectations beyond logic.

Does it hurt me? No. Do I think you're desperately pathetic? Yep. Even meeting someone in a chat room takes more bravery and social skill than this.

jael mchenry
4.16.03 @ 4:21p

I think it comes back to, as some people have said, the perpetuation of the soulmate myth. If there's only one person in the world you could be happy with, and you locked eyes on a bus, then of course you want to be with them forever. But there isn't. You could be happy with hundreds of people. And you know nothing about this person other than their physical look. How could you think they're your only chance at happiness?

margot lester
4.16.03 @ 4:27p

i think some of y'all are taking these ads WAY too seriously. certainly some do put off the "i can't go on till i find you, soulmate" vibe. for the terminally shy or socially paralyzed or spineless, these whacky ads may be the best they can manage.

other people who use them might just think -- "it'll take 5 minutes and you never know". if the bus doors closed before you had your chance, why is it bad to take an cheap and easy way to chase it down, just in case it was for real?

there's no one person for anybody, but why turn your back on someone who might be one of the ones?


matt morin
4.16.03 @ 4:32p

Are people reading the same thread and column I am? When has anyone said anything about the objects of these ads being "the one," everyone pining over "what might have been," or even being "paralyzed" like they're just sitting around the house all day waiting for a response?

You see someone you're attracted to, but you missed the chance to talk to them. But wait! There's one more chance - a small one, but still a chance. So you go do it?

Who's talking about soulmates and being with them forever?

jael mchenry
4.16.03 @ 4:36p

Early in the thread Michelle mentioned that she thought Hollywood contributed to this behavior. I agree.

tracey kelley
4.16.03 @ 4:40p

Holy shit, I would think agonizing over no response to the ad would be worse than wondering over the missed opportunity.

The key here is: be spontaneous. If you see someone across a crowded room, make nice and talk to her/him. Look at that as your chance and see what happens.

Because what is supposed to happen, will.

tracey kelley
4.16.03 @ 4:42p

And Matt, your position is clearly stated in your first post. You think you need a stragedy and a rule book, when all you really need is a nice smile and sincerity.

heather millen
4.16.03 @ 4:51p

I agree with Tracey. I've made eye contact with people and then went over to talk to them. They usually even say that they're impressed that you took that step. But if you really think it's worth it, why not? What do you have to lose with a complete stranger?

If you want something, go after it. Don't pine away, pen it up and write an ad later that we all know the chances of anyone ever seeing are slim to none. I think these people love the idea of finding someone to love, but when it comes down to it, they don't have the balls to go do it.

matt morin
4.16.03 @ 4:51p

I don't think women really understand how difficult that is to do though. Guys, back me up here. If you're by yourself, it is impossible to walk up to a group of 4 or 5 women and start up a conversation without looking like a total cheeseball. I can be as sincere as possible, but it just doesn't work that way.

margot lester
4.16.03 @ 4:55p

oh, i don't know. it's pretty flattering, i think, when a guy has the sand to run the gauntlet like that. but i know a lot of women who don't know how to gently deflect the interest of a guy she doesn't dig and *that* tends to make guys a little skittish about making the approach in the first place.

russ carr
4.16.03 @ 4:57p

Who's the bunny? Who's the bear?

erik myers
4.16.03 @ 4:57p

I completely disagree. I think, if anything, it's a way to impress the hell out of the woman that you think is cute -- you've gone out of your way to introduce yourself to her in front of her friends. And yeah.. it takes balls, but man.. if you can pull it off, it's GOLD.


matt morin
4.16.03 @ 4:58p

Notice: Heather Graham was sitting by herself.

There's a huge difference when the numbers are fairly even - whether it's 1 of you and 2 of them, or 4 of you and 6 of them.

erik myers
4.16.03 @ 5:01p

I've never had a problem talking to people that I've been interested in, even when she's with a group of women.

It's different if you can tell that it's a Girl's Night Out. If you can tell that, stay the hell away.

russ carr
4.16.03 @ 5:07p

It's like Luke trying to levitate his X-wing out of the Dagobah swamp: "It's too big!"

"That...is why you fail."

heather millen
4.16.03 @ 5:14p

If the ladies are out on girls' night, Erik's right... stay the fuck away from us. But if we want to hit on someone at girls' night, my friends and I rarely hesitate.

I think it's mainly personality differences. If you're an outgoing person than you're gonna approach them. I still don't see the point in writing an ad that no one will even think to look for.

adam kraemer
4.16.03 @ 6:23p

Wow, Russ. That's almost as dorky as Joe using his computer on the beach. But I get your meaning.

My feeling is that it's gotta work a couple of times. Otherwise what's the point?

And I see no harm in it. It's like the opposite of a blind date - there you know about the person but have no idea what they look like, here, at least you have an image, and then you find out whether the personalities are right.

I just shudder at the thought of anyone limiting someone else's ability to meet people. Especially someone who's gotta resort to this. Cut the socially inept some slack, please. It's just not good Karma.

juli mccarthy
4.16.03 @ 8:03p

Do people really place ads like this, or has Mike used artistic license here? I see ads in the personals called "Missed Opportunities" and they're NOTHING like the ads you're talking about. They're mostly like:
"Nancy from Pat's Bar last Thursday - we were talking about DeNiro movies. I lost your number, please call me!" They're not total strangers trying to hook up.

mike julianelle
4.16.03 @ 8:18p

Some of it is strangers, some is people that lost touch. It varies. But check out craigslist.com, under "missed connections", and you'll see a few of both. They are true. My examples? Well, artistic license. Hopefully, mine are even funnier than the real ones.

heather millen
4.16.03 @ 8:40p

And, hey, Matt has already admitted to doing it after a mere glance at a girl at a concert.

So yeah, Juli, it happens. Damn pathetic losers.

Oh wait, not Matt. My bad! ;)

robert melos
4.16.03 @ 10:39p

As a believer in Fate, there are no missed opportunities. If something is meant to happen, it will happen.

Now on to a slightly more serious point. Often it is harder to approach someone in a non-date minded setting such as a bus or train. If you're in a bar, you should be expecting to be hit on, but on the street it's a bit more awkward. Plus, for me, if I walk up to a guy I think is hot and try something like "Hi, I just saw you from across the street, and just wanted to tell you I think you're hot looking and would like to buy you a drink or coffee sometime," the chances of me getting punched in the mouth are much greater than a straight guy hitting on a woman. Granted, some lesbians will punch a guy out for the fun of it, but I think y'all get my point.


eloise young
4.17.03 @ 12:24a

There's something I'm missing here. But if you want to contact that person again, don't you go to the same place at the same time of the week and see if they are there again? Wait at the same bus stop, go to the same car dealership, speed in the same place, that kind of thing? Ask the people who work in the store/coffee shop? Do some real research? Doesn't that increase the chances tens of thousands of times that you reconnect?

Or am I just a stalker?

matt morin
4.17.03 @ 12:36a

I'm not touching that stalker comment with a 10-foot pole...

But what about my initial example - at a concert? Or the other example I posted with the guy talking to the cop? Those aren't exactly repeatable occasions.

juli mccarthy
4.17.03 @ 12:57a

Wait. You have a ten-foot pole?

matt morin
4.17.03 @ 1:10a

DA HA HA! Ok, you caught me Juli. I was exaggerating by 9'4".

eloise young
4.17.03 @ 1:10a

Some of them aren't. But if it's a concert, post on a fan site bulletin board. If it's a cop, go to the police station and ask around (or, as I said, speed in the same place at the same time)... I mean, be a bit targeted about this...

eloise young
4.17.03 @ 1:12a

Oh yes, and a friend recently told me, "It can be done. Last night I picked up a date on BART in under 3 stops."

adam kraemer
4.17.03 @ 10:54a

Of course meeting someone on public transportation can be done. I know a guy who did it, too. But that doesn't mean it's not difficult.

Also, especially in a big city with trains that run constantly, the odds of being on the same train as someone more than once every four weeks are pretty slim. Most of the people I notice on the subway, I never wind up seeing again. You have to get the right 5-minute block of time and the right line and the right car. That's a small target.

erik myers
4.17.03 @ 2:07p

It's larger than 4 lines of 8 point print on one page in the back of one periodical.

heather millen
4.17.03 @ 2:14p

The man has got a point. Plus, I hate to be the naysayer on this "Missed Connections" feature, but most people laugh at how idiotic the idea even is and don't read them on principle.

mike julianelle
4.17.03 @ 2:15p

I ain't gonna write one, but I'd LOVE to be the subject of one.

matt morin
4.17.03 @ 2:19p

Of course you would. But that would mean someone would have to be interested in you. And we all know that ain't gonna happen.

jael mchenry
4.17.03 @ 2:42p

"Friday night at Union Street. You walked up to me, stammered, blushed, and puked on my shoes. Want to meet for the hair of the dog?"

matt morin
4.17.03 @ 3:00p

Here's a classic one I just saw:

You were browsing at Nordstrom rack at lunch the other day; long blond hair, wearing classy professional clothing, teeth *very* white. I trailed you for a while -- did you notice? -- then passed near and said that you'd look 'really cute' in the top that you were holding. Was that a look of interest as you glanced back at me? Or were you looking for Security?

heather millen
4.17.03 @ 3:09p

Dammit! Now you have me browsing these things!

Hot guy in Levi's at the Saddleranch last night

Damn, you ride that bull great! I was that girl who kissed your boo boo when you made that ever so graceful tumble. You know who you are! Hopefully you can last longer than 10 seconds.

juli mccarthy
4.17.03 @ 3:36p

Was that a look of interest as you glanced back at me? Or were you looking for Security? See, now, THAT'S kinda cute and warm and fuzzy sounding. It acknowledges the weirdness of the whole concept and the potential for misunderstanding, yet still conveys a glimmer of hope without sounding too desperate.

robert melos
4.17.03 @ 10:27p

These are all very funny, but also a great big long shot. I've never even seen these type of ads in any of my local papers. If they exist I didn't know it, so the likelihood of my having a fateful near miss is even less than nil.

Although, I could run my ad for that one time near miss. You, a co-host of a FoxNews show, cute with short dark hair, were guesting on Conan. Me, the guy who was staring and winking at you lasciviously from the third row throughout your segment. Wanna get some coffee next time you're in town?

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