We tracked the most recent Manhattan locations of Craigslist's "missed connection" posts
City life is full of near-hits and glancing what-ifs. Most people go about their day giving little thought to what could have been if they had reached across the subway aisle and asked the cute girl in the red hat for her number before she got off at Chambers Street, disappearing forever behind the closing doors. But a few dogged, lovestruck fools take their chance encounters (or non-encounters, as the case usually is) to the pages of Craigslist, posting under the Missed Connection heading, hoping against hope that the object of their infatuation will scour the listings and recognize the description of themselves as the "childhood friend who was viciously attacked by a dog and lost an eye," spotted at the Soho Bloomingdale's, or the Liquiteria employee with "round glasses, freckles, and an amazing smile that can turn any bleak Monday morning into something really special."
Craiglist only keeps Missed Connections posts active for a few weeks, so there is a fleeting nature to the endeavor, and a sense of urgency. In Manhattan, the weeks leading up to Valentine's Day have seen an expected mix of the lovely, the carnal, and the mundane. The most common sightings downtown were in public places - the park, the subway, museums - and gym locker rooms.
There's the man searching for a fellow he made "charming eye contact" with at Irving Cafe on Orchard Street. A self-described "tall, elegant, mature, busty woman with short blond hair, red lipstick... wearing a woolen Italian dress, a long necklace of white and grey pearls" told of her "nice leisurely lunch at Balthazar" that ended with a glass of Champagne, then a shared look and smile with a man seated at a nearby table right before she walked out the door.
Some seeking connections aren't looking for romance so much as reassurance or fulfilled curiosity: "Last week you had a seizure on the ramp at the 4th Street station. I was the guy with the baseball cap who stayed with you until the cops came. Are you okay?"
An older a woman wrote about a meeting in Central Park 23 years ago, when she ran into "a pair of interesting young people" dressed in goth-like clothes and bedecked with bloodstone rings and snake eye pendants. Then there's the pedestrian but earnest search for the gentleman who shouted "nice flowers!" on West 17th Street: "You looked cute in your denim shirt and I'd like to see you again."
The one thing that all the missed connections have in common is an air of resigned futility. There is the slightest tinge of hope, of course, but almost every poster includes a line indicating their full understanding of the slim possibility their reunion fantasy will become reality. Still, that's where the real romance lies - in the belief that there's still a chance, however small, that a random sighting in a city of over 8 million souls will lead to true love (or at least a fun date).
The man chasing a beautiful blonde he saw in a theater said it best:
"I know this is crazy, and probably never works, but maybe you or one of your many friends you were sitting with will see this and put us in touch. I'd really love to say hello."