The Ultimate Missed Connection

by Eric Disco
Aug 25

I’ve posted before about Missed Connections. A few days ago, someone posted the ultimate Missed Connection on Craigslist. The link has since expired.

Missed Connection – m4w.

I saw you on the Manhattan-bound Brooklyn Q train.

I was wearing a blue-striped t-shirt and a pair of maroon pants. You were wearing a vintage red skirt and a smart white blouse. We both wore glasses. I guess we still do.

You got on at DeKalb and sat across from me and we made eye contact, briefly. I fell in love with you a little bit, in that stupid way where you completely make up a fictional version of the person you’re looking at and fall in love with that person. But still I think there was something there.

Several times we looked at each other and then looked away. I tried to think of something to say to you — maybe pretend I didn’t know where I was going and ask you for directions or say something nice about your boot-shaped earrings, or just say, “Hot day.” It all seemed so stupid.

At one point, I caught you staring at me and you immediately averted your eyes. You pulled a book out of your bag and started reading it — a biography of Lyndon Johnson — but I noticed you never once turned a page.

My stop was Union Square, but at Union Square I decided to stay on, rationalizing that I could just as easily transfer to the 7 at 42nd Street, but then I didn’t get off at 42nd Street either. You must have missed your stop as well, because when we got all the way to the end of the line at Ditmars, we both just sat there in the car, waiting.

I cocked my head at you inquisitively. You shrugged and held up your book as if that was the reason.

Still I said nothing.

We took the train all the way back down — down through Astoria, across the East River, weaving through midtown, from Times Square to Herald Square to Union Square, under SoHo and Chinatown, up across the bridge back into Brooklyn, past Barclays and Prospect Park, past Flatbush and Midwood and Sheepshead Bay, all the way to Coney Island. And when we got to Coney Island, I knew I had to say something.

Still I said nothing.

And so we went back up.

Up and down the Q line, over and over. We caught the rush hour crowds and then saw them thin out again. We watched the sun set over Manhattan as we crossed the East River. I gave myself deadlines: I’ll talk to her before Newkirk; I’ll talk to her before Canal. Still I remained silent.

For months we sat on the train saying nothing to each other. We survived on bags of skittles sold to us by kids raising money for their basketball teams. We must have heard a million mariachi bands, had our faces nearly kicked in by a hundred thousand break dancers. I gave money to the beggars until I ran out of singles. When the train went above ground I’d get text messages and voicemails (“Where are you? What happened? Are you okay?”) until my phone ran out of battery.

I’ll talk to her before daybreak; I’ll talk to her before Tuesday. The longer I waited, the harder it got. What could I possibly say to you now, now that we’ve passed this same station for the hundredth time? Maybe if I could go back to the first time the Q switched over to the local R line for the weekend, I could have said, “Well, this is inconvenient,” but I couldn’t very well say it now, could I? I would kick myself for days after every time you sneezed — why hadn’t I said “Bless You”? That tiny gesture could have been enough to pivot us into a conversation, but here in stupid silence still we sat.

There were nights when we were the only two souls in the car, perhaps even on the whole train, and even then I felt self-conscious about bothering you. She’s reading her book, I thought, she doesn’t want to talk to me. Still, there were moments when I felt a connection. Someone would shout something crazy about Jesus and we’d immediately look at each other to register our reactions. A couple of teenagers would exit, holding hands, and we’d both think: Young Love.

For sixty years, we sat in that car, just barely pretending not to notice each other. I got to know you so well, if only peripherally. I memorized the folds of your body, the contours of your face, the patterns of your breath. I saw you cry once after you’d glanced at a neighbor’s newspaper. I wondered if you were crying about something specific, or just the general passage of time, so unnoticeable until suddenly noticeable. I wanted to comfort you, wrap my arms around you, assure you I knew everything would be fine, but it felt too familiar; I stayed glued to my seat.

One day, in the middle of the afternoon, you stood up as the train pulled into Queensboro Plaza. It was difficult for you, this simple task of standing up, you hadn’t done it in sixty years. Holding onto the rails, you managed to get yourself to the door. You hesitated briefly there, perhaps waiting for me to say something, giving me one last chance to stop you, but rather than spit out a lifetime of suppressed almost-conversations I said nothing, and I watched you slip out between the closing sliding doors.

It took me a few more stops before I realized you were really gone. I kept waiting for you to reenter the subway car, sit down next to me, rest your head on my shoulder. Nothing would be said. Nothing would need to be said.

When the train returned to Queensboro Plaza, I craned my neck as we entered the station. Perhaps you were there, on the platform, still waiting. Perhaps I would see you, smiling and bright, your long gray hair waving in the wind from the oncoming train.

But no, you were gone. And I realized most likely I would never see you again. And I thought about how amazing it is that you can know somebody for sixty years and yet still not really know that person at all.

I stayed on the train until it got to Union Square, at which point I got off and transferred to the L.


posted in Initiative and Inhibition

5 responses
Rock and Roll Lawyer says:

Beautiful and sad story. My favorite kind.
So at the age of 44, I made my first sober direct cold daytime approach on Tuesday. As background, I am admittedly tall, good-looking, professional, well-dressed, generally good with women despite being a natural introvert, and a performing musician in my free time–but I still get ridiculously stressed at the thought of a cold approach. I’ve tried it with a buzz on at bars a few times in the last couple of months, but this was the first sober daytime direct cold approach of my life.
On Tuesday I went to lunch by myself at a Greek restaurant I frequent every week or two. A month ago, I had eaten there and the hostess–an adorable, slender, tastefully dressed, artsy-but-without-visible-tattoos, creamy-skinned natural redhead (the sexy kind, not the frizzy kind)–seated me directly next to the hostess stand. I noticed that she had a pad out and was sketching in it when she wasn’t seating customers. I melted a little bit. As it was not quite lunch time, the restaurant was almost empty. I mustered up all the courage I had and asked her what she was drawing. She smiled and walked around to my side of the table to show me. To be honest, I was so nervous I don’t even remember what it was. I asked her whether she was an art student (my city is home to one of the country’s biggest art schools). She said no, she just liked to draw and that she was taking some time off from school. I told her to keep up the good work, but that was all that I had the courage to do that day.
Fast forward to this past Tuesday, when I returned to the Greek restaurant and she was again working there. As it was the middle of lunch hour, she seated me at a different table but in her direct line of sight. Throughout my meal, she kept stealing glances at my table and played with her hair constantly. So about halfway through my meal, I knew I was going to make some kind of move and that there was no turning back. I got so nervous I couldn’t even choke down my meal, despite being voraciously hungry. My entire body told me not to do this thing. I ignored it.
After paying my check, I got up and walked towards the hostess stand. We made eye contact and smiled, but she walked past me to go clear my table. I got to the door of the restaurant and stopped and turned around. I walked over to the table where I had been sitting, and, with all eyes in the full restaurant upon me (at least in mind), I said, in a clear and assertive voice:
“I have never hit on a hostess before, but you are the cutest girl I have seen in a long time, and I was going to kick myself if I didn’t introduce myself before I left. I’m _____.”
“Thanks, I’m _____.”
“Yeah, I was here a few weeks ago and we talked about your drawings. Where’s your pad today?”
“Yeah, I remember…but I’m 17.”
“REALLY? Okay, well, thanks for the information. Bye.”
[Beat hasty retreat out of there].
Okay, that was ridiculously stressful and ended pretty badly, but I have to say that I have been supercharged all week.
Q: Have any of you ever hit on a girl that turned out to be much younger than you thought? How did you handle it?

Zhelyazko says:

Kudos Lawyer guy, approach away. If she is younger just go on to the next one. If in doubt I would sometimes ask: “you ARE over 18, aren’t you” while smiling and some joke like: don’t want to get into trouble or I don’t enjoy jail too much, etc.

But good work man, keep going!

ariel says:

Awesome! It’s funny how you can stretch the point where it could be realistic.
Reminds me of a guy I worked with. There was this girl that worked in the same place, that for months, each day , he would say, `today I’m going to tell her I like her’, maybe it even lasted a year.
How much things are relative, now for me stalling is waiting for 5 minutes before approaching in a coffee shop.

Good luck with the new site!

Lee says:

Until you find out more about her, all you know is that you’re attracted to her, and that’s enough. You’re allowed to hit on her. If she tells you she’s 17, don’t turn tail and run. And don’t look for a clever comeback. You’ve done nothing wrong. If you’re going to do anything, just nod your head, smile, and say “Good to know.” In a public place, you’re allowed to talk to anyone you want to talk to. Don’t spend time preparing yourself for the possibility that others are going to perceive you’re doing something wrong. That is teaching yourself that what you’re doing is shameful and that you need some excuse to do it. There is nothing shameful about flirting with a beautiful 17 year old girl. You may decide she’s too young for you, or she may decide that you’re too old for her, but that doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to flirt with her.


Rock and Roll Lawyer says:

Yeah, seems kind of obvious in retrospect. I was just too rattled in the moment though. I’m like a rookie QB waiting for the game to slow down. Gotta take more snaps, I guess.
Sorry for all the football analogies–opening weekend excitement.