Less fattening than chocolate and more discrete than porn -I have found the perfect vice.
Craigslist Missed Connections.
Every flavor of humanity is represented and discovering the masses reaching out in hope, desperation and often, tragically, pain is astonishing. Like a car crash you can’t look away, but you kind of want to deny that you’re looking. Its like peeping through a bedroom window or reading your boyfriends email. Not right, but if the situation presents itself, irresistible.
I was clued in by a girlfriend who shared her tales of craigslist dating back in the 90’s (before hookers started getting murdered and trolls were still dolls with fluorescent hair). I hadn’t even heard of craigslist so my eyes were bugging as we perused the ‘M4W’ dating section. I’d never seen so many pictures of penis’s. Did men actually think that women picked their mates based on the aesthetics of their dick? Wow.. I really have been dating the wrong way. I checked out the W4M section to see if the situation was reversed (maybe my match.com photos were all kinds of wrong), but – thankfully- I didn’t find one photo of labia. Women seemed to show off their hair more than anything. Let me clarify, head hair. Its craigslist.. you’d not be surprised.
We clicked through and laughed at the postings of men looking for the perfect trust fund Barbie doll to call them ‘daddy’ or the many photos of guys in baseball caps taking photos in the bathroom mirror. (serious guys, at least try to crop the toilet seat out of the shot). I hadn’t laughed this hard in years.
But then my friend clued me into the real ‘gold’. Missed Connections. The home of the lovelorn and lost. Missed Connections seemed to be the melting pot for every non specific kind of communication. Men who had been dumped and missed their women. Women who were waiting for that call from a second date. Guys who were flirting in traffic with girls in ’94 Honda’s and even those who were looking for old high school sweethearts from 20 years ago and were ‘still wondering’. Missed Connected (MC to the wise) is the equivalent of the locker door, the high school binder, the notes passed in class.. people wanting to know they were noticed, liked, loved or even just desired. Guys wanting her to notice him, apologizing for their behavior, looking for the one who got away. Its intoxicating, infantile and totally totally addictive.
My favorites amongst the misspelled crudity, the flowery prose and profuse apologies is the non specific tale of love. These paragraphs are rarely identifiable, never mention names or specifics and hence mean something to almost everyone. Who wouldn’t want to think that the guy posting about the girl who he loved, he pushed away, he desired and now couldn’t work up the nerve to contact was for you? How about the person who professes to have met ‘the one’ and can’t get around to saying it, instead projects it into every shared look? Or the one who says ‘I can’t go back, I love you too much. I may have made the biggest mistake of my life’.
The nature of the posts means everyone and anyone could be the intended target, and so everyone buys in. You can find any particularly poignant posting followed by multiple postings asking ‘is it me?’ ‘give me initials’ ‘where did we meet?’ Everyone wants it to be them. They’re all wanting that ‘one who got away’ to be looking for them. Whether single or married, no one can resist the idea of being desired, being loved from afar. To read that you are loved in this public and yet anonymous forum. You can almost hear the heaving chests and sighing across the city as women and men think ‘Its for me! I’m loved!’
What does it mean? Why am I obsessed? For the same reason that anyone watches rom-coms or reads chick lit. I’m a romantic. I love the idea, the thought, of people across the city reaching out with aching hearts hoping their message is received. After all, its positively old fashioned to write a letter of regret, of love to another and hope that its received and received well by the intended.
And occasionally, very rarely, I hope that it’s for me.