Monday, January 09, 2006

passing strangers

Some day, the man of my dreams is going to post an ad on Craigslist's Missed Connections describing how he saw me on the subway/in the coffee shop/walking down the street and was so struck by my beauty/elegance/smile that he was too shy to say anything to me at the time but is now deeply regretful.

Yeah, and some day I'll sprout wings and be able to fly to work instead of taking the subway.

The great thing about living in New York City is that you are constantly in contact with lots of different people, many of which are attractive and potentially interesting. The awful thing about living in New York City is that you are constantly in contact with these people, but rarely actually make any contact with them.

It happens all the time.

For example, last week, I saw the same cute guy on my subway two days in a row. I had seen him on previous morning commutes, and he seemed to recognize me, too. He's the kind of guy who becomes cuter the more you look at him, and even more attractive once you get to know him (provided he has a great personality, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt). He was reading a Phillip Roth novel, so I deduced he was at least fairly intelligent (hey, it's better than Dan Brown).

The second morning, on my way to the subway, I promised myself that if I saw this guy again, I'd do something to acknowledge the synchronicity, like nod or smile. There he was, already on the platform as the subway pulled up. He sat across from me and immediately pulled out his book, making no eye contact. Sigh. Why must you make life so difficult, Phillip Roth Boy? Instead of making some kind of connection, we played the I'll-Look-At-You-When-I-Know-You're-Not-Looking-At-Me game.

Today I was a running a little late, and just missed my usual train. I wonder if he was on it.

This is one incident of many, and I know I'm not alone in my frustration or Craigslist wouldn't be flooded with so many damn Missed Connections (though it would be nice if people made more of an effort to be a little more specific. Posts like "J, I miss you. Do you miss me too?" are so oblique it's ridiculous).

I don't know what the solution is. Just about every day, I see someone that I would like to talk to, but I am too socially inhibited or too rushed to make any contact. Instead, I walk right past them, or spend the subway ride looking at them out of the corner of my eye, or bide my time in the coffee shop hiding behind my laptop or book. Just like everybody else.

In an alternate world, in a less cautious and hostile city, things would be different. It would be okay to approach a person and say,

"I don't know you at all but there's something about you that made me want to say hello. You might be in a relationship or we might have nothing in common or I might not be you're type, but I'm happy to take the risk. My name is Dolly."

Sadly, this is not the world or city I live in. For now, I'll keep checking Craigslist...


Larissa said...

having lived in NYC for two years, I totally know what you mean about being around so many people, but never really interacting with them. and trust me there were many cute boys i wanted to chat up on the subway, but alas never did. it takes GUTS and overcoming the fact that everyone around you will be listening in on your conversation.

NewYorkMoments said...

Face it, it's NYC. If he's even remotely attractive he's probabaly gay, or straight but does guys on the side.

Dolly said...

Larissa, I think it does take guts to approach someone you don't know, and I'm starting to think that NYC has a disproportionatly high percentage of cowards.

NYmoments, I don't think he's gay or bi, though the other guy I see a lot on the subway probably is. No, I think Philip Roth Boy is either in a relationship, shy, or I'm not his type.