Trawling Craigslist to pass the time isn't exactly a new activity (I'm pretty sure there are some guys in prison who do it a lot better than me), but due to an acute case of ADD, I find myself bored a lot, and Craigslist is, for better or worse, where that boredom leads me. I'll admit, I probably spend a few too many hours there. Here's my defense: Unlike most of the gents out there, Craiglist has rarely done me wrong. It's guided me to my best jobs (casual female DJ, no skill required) and a pretty great recliner. And instead of online shopping or whatever passes as acceptable procrastination these days, it entertains me for hours, especially Missed Connections.
I started hanging out there casually, mostly out of self-interest -- you know, just in case this super dreamy doctor to whom I may have sent a box of $200 cookies (as a thank you, duh) realized that I was the girl he'd been waiting for (as opposed to a psycho stalker with an inability to pay hospital bills on time). Then gradually, as I read more and more posts from people worried that they had ever so briefly met, then lost, The One, I became more invested.
You see, I'm not a passive consumer; I like to get involved. When inspired, I started trying to help the authors of these anonymous admissions of lust/like/potential love. For example, if you posted on Missed Connections, you might get a message from me encouraging you to return to the scene of your biking accident and create a poster board sized thank you card (with ample hearts and glitter) and wait for the woman who helped you to your feet. I mean, she has to pass again at some point, right?
I'm so involved, in fact, that I've even been on a date with one of the more compelling MCs. And through all of this I've learned a few things about love that I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have otherwise. Since you're busy ordering things from J.Crew, let me save you the trouble/potential run in with the Craigslist killer.
4 Things I Learned About Dating From Stalking Missed Connections:
1. Ride the subway more. If the MCs are any indication, you can forget the bar scene, single ladies. Your dream man is currently riding around on the subway desperately trying to find you. Personally, I find this annoying since I tend to look angry and not at all pretty when I take public transportation. But the evidence is there in black and white, so grab that greasy pole and put your fare to good use. I suggest readying yourself for a star-crossed meeting every time you hit the turnstyle. Maybe remove the do-not-engage headphones or put away your copy of "Getting Past Your Breakup." Also, according to the men of Missed Connections, it's socially acceptable, even desirable to speak to a rider you might find attractive. Like, oh sorry I'm smashed up against your leg but it seems you've got some nice muscle tone -- do you jog? Just remember to mention your name and preferred method of contact.
2. Grow a pair. I know you thought you'd perfected the art of the come hither glance. Or maybe someone along the way (probably someone jealous) advised you to wait patiently for the super-cute guy in the checkout line to turn around and ask for your number. But I have news for you, he probably won't. Even if you exchange flirtations about the choice of cheese in his basket, odds are he still won't. Why? According to guys regretting their missed connections, they are either worried about coming off as creepy, nervous that you'll throw coconut water in their faces or just not sure what to do. So beat him to the punch. I've recently had the folks at Staples create a 'love' business card with the most important facts about me -- for example: I enjoy bowls of cereal and am directionally challenged. Or you could just have one made with your name and phone number and maybe a headshot if you're photogenic. In this way, I will never let someone great or even just great looking walk on by. Yeah, it's scary. Please imagine the looks I've received when I try to hand an attractive man a card with my love information on it. But, get over it, or don't and go home to your frozen dinner and watch that new NBC musical drama. Your choice.
3. It's a numbers game, and the odds are not in your favor. I've never been a believer in those doomsday forecasts about the end of men. Yet nothing kills optimism like an hour spent on Craigslist. For every guy on Missed Connections who sounds vaguely normal, genuinely sad that he didn't speak up and interested in meeting you in a no-pepper-spray-required way, there are approximately 70 weird ones, and 29 more who would make you want to swear off men all together. Arguably, the same is true outside of online classifieds, though I'd argue that they're a tad harder to spot. So practice clicking past the wackos. Just like you wouldn't take a second glance at Mr. Toe Fetish, there's no need to entertain the one who took you on a three-person date with his cousin or kept an incriminating pair of strappy sandals under his bed. Oh and when you find a good one, hold onto him, or else it's back to the subway.
4. If all else fails, steal someone else's missed opportunity. I'm positive he didn't get that good of a look at the girl in the coffee shop, and if you wore glasses, you would probably pass. Why not? I did, and I'm still breathing. His post sounded sincere and not unlike something I would want someone to write about me, even it was meant for some lady from his yoga class. So I wrote him back -- actually, I went about it honestly. I encouraged him to go back to his class and bring her a bottle of water with his name and number on it (brilliant, I thought , but he ruled it 'middle school.') We ended up exchanging a few emails, hitting it off, and when we'd both decided that neither one of us was a sexual predator, we arranged a meeting (in a well lit public location). Yeah, it was totally random and a few friends offered the obvious, caring response: You're honestly going on a date with someone who posted a Missed Connection that wasn't even about you on Craigslist? WTF. But I'm a believer in embracing the unexpected. Where is the fun in arriving at your first date better informed about the person sitting across from you than they are? People will always surprise you if you let them, but we get so used to our own routines, circles, and news feeds that there's no room to go drink bourbon laced milkshakes with a seriously genuine and perfectly nice yoga enthusiast. So yeah, do something weird. You don't know what you're missing.