This is a column in the classified ad section of a local alternative weekly. And maybe in some of the stodgy ones, Elsewhere. People send in short ads which they hope will be read by a specific person they met, but did not speak to, on the bus or at a show or in a café. The ads are wistful little poems, Haiku Prufrocks:

    Saw you Fri. 4/7 Palace Hotel lobby. Me, 
    sports fan. You, wedding guest. Rematch?
    box 18273
    Renee--Gordon Biersch Friday. I got your 
    name, forgot your number! 
    Kicking myself! PLEASE Call! Dave box 
    #91Nite Owl, Cross town bus. I asked you 
    out, you told me where to get off. 
    Sorry. Coffee? --Chuck box 12213

With material like this around, it's a wonder writers ever get blocked, eh?

Of cliches, the one of two boats passing each other at night is perhaps my favorite. In our city scape rushes of busy nine to five, of hurried life our own world don't bother me because I'm short on time and on a mission, how often must one pass, without knowing, the possiblity of magic?

But our humanity has not been lost. There are moments when even the most hurried among us have the sensation of slow motion at the smile of a stranger. There are moments when even the most cynical among us spend the rest of their day wondering what could have happened if only. If only I said something. If only I said something else. If only I had asked for... if only.

That smile is a missed connection. That if only is a missed connection. That haunting of woulda coulda shoulda, that's a missed connection. And most of us, most of the time, let it be. We wish and hope and maybe it'll happen again, but know probably won't; and thus we move on.

But sometimes the urge to connect, to try to connect, is too much. And thus we turn to the hope of a missed connection ad.

Much has been said about the internet’s effect on society; everything from stern warnings about the disintegration of proper society to hopeful claims that the internet will transform society only for the better. Of course, it will hardly surprise anyone with a little sense and time to think about it that the truth will be somewhere in the middle.

Craigslist’s Missed Connections section is a good example of this. Whether they lacked courage, the time to gather themselves, or simply the time to speak at all, Missed Connections gives them – even if it’s a small one – the chance to make that human connection which they regret having missed. Even if the presumably rare chance of this happening doesn’t seem worth much, we can at least hope that dwelling on it – and seeing so many others like themselves out there – will encourage people to not miss out the next time around.

Of course, if it were merely a tool with the potential to transform society for the better, it would be boring and no one would like it. Practically, the best reason to read Missed Connections is a medley of far baser reasons. MC is simply full of people to laugh at or with. There’s a certain twisted pleasure in seeking out people you can pretend are more weird and desperate than you. At the same time, it’s not without a certain thoughtful aspect, as you try to sort out people who are lying, making a point or some social commentary, or who really are just that deranged.

You farted next to me on the bus - m4w - 23 (Bus from Hyde Park to the Loop)
I admire a woman who can let fly in front of a crowd. Perhaps you would be so bold as to fart in my presence again?
To The Pregnant Woman Doing Shots At Tilli's - m4w - 33 (Chicago)

It was late. I walked up to the bar, where you had just finished a shot. Judging from the line of glasses, it was one of many for you that night. Out of focus and filled with drunken lust, your eyes tried to lock onto my face. I turned to flee but you grabbed me by the collar and pulled me in for an unwelcome and uncoordinated kiss. Your sloppy tongue tasted like tequila, peanuts and....pickles? Before I knew what was happening, an angry claw clamped onto my shoulder and dislodged me from your embrace. It was your husband.

I want you to know that my jaw is healing just fine, thanks. Maybe I'll run into you here at the hospital when the little tyke comes into the world. Hopefully he'll emerge sober.

I’m enough of a misanthrope to laugh at how awful humans so often are, but there’s a limit to everything, and there are levels of awful – especially in endangering others – that can quickly turn from amusing to horrifying.

ATTN! girl with the circle takes the square patch on clark & lawrence - m4w - 23 (clark & lawrence)
my buddy just told me that you got off the clark bus on lawrence and were sporting a ctts patch. he suspected you were checking him out, as he had an ampere patch. well, he has a girlfriend, sorry. however i do not and i am very much interested in finding more screemo ladies in the area
Kid in Iowa Jersey Biffs It - m4w (Wrigleyville)
My roommate was walking home from Barleycorn in Wrigleyville yesterday after the Iowa game was over. He was wearing a yellow Iowa football jersey. He apparently wiped out and sliced his chin. He doesn't remember falling or how it happend but he said that he remembers a bunch of girls asking him if he was ok. I was curious if anyone saw him fall and if you have any details to how it happend, becuase it had to be pretty awesome. Please email me back with any details.

Of course, most things are a mixture. You may find yourself laughing at the same things you see – and perhaps aren’t very fond of – in yourself. Sometimes you can find yourself laughing at people laughing at people – and simultaneously reassured that there are some people out there who are at least capable of acting decently.

French Maid on BMX - m4w - 28 (Fullerton/Elston/Damen)
Alas, I was too intoxicated to say anything other than a mumbled hello. It was around 9 PM on Sunday night. I'm sure I will see you in my dreams tonight.
To the HOT Cable Guy(s)!! - m4m - 37 (my condo/NW)
wow.....what a pleasant surprise this morning when you knocked on my door around 10a!! i must admit, its always been a fantasy of mine to hook up with the repair man....and you certainly fit the bill!!! too bad the job was a quick one...wish i had more for you to "fix"!!

And, for a break between laughing at the weirdness (whether in yourself or in others), you’re sure to discover that cliches happen – assuming we believe what we read – quite often, indeed. Normally we only get these peeks into people’s thoughts and lives in carefully arranged and doled out parcels – and it can be amusing, interesting, and informative to have a more basic, unrefined, view.

starbucks man with the sausage sandwich - w4m – 22
Everymorning you come flying out of the back room with a broom hoisted above your head yelling like a wookie. You delivered my sausage breakfast sandwich and made a comment about how it is the official sandwich of the windy city and then yelled, "go sox!". I think your name is mitchable and I sort of want a golden shower from you.
Missing goat
If anyone spots a small goat wandering around please let me know.

And sometimes… you pretty much just laugh at people.

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