February 14 comes and goes every year with a variety of fanfare in my house. One housemate, Ted, takes his girlfriend out to dinner. Another housemate, Clem, gets a box of candy from his parents. Yet another, Pokey, pines after his latest soul mate. I might send a text message off to a girl after finishing a glass of scotch.
In all honesty, Valentine’s Day holds less importance in my social calendar than Richard Nixon’s birthday (January 9). Despite it being Black Friday for the Hallmark corporation, I have to wonder if it has lost all social significance. Then I read Craigslist.
For those of you unfamiliar with the site, Craigslist is a clearinghouse for classified ads where users can post anything from “Will trade motorcycle helmet for used panties” to “T4W — Looking for discrete partner who enjoys gargling mouthwash and light bondage.” (By the way, Craiglist users, the word is “discreet” not “discrete.” They mean different things.)
In any case, one section I read religiously is called “Missed Connections.” It’s a category of personal ads where users submit stories of a romantic connection that never was. They come in two flavors: the “I saw you at the [place where I was], you smiled at me, I was wearing [a non-descript item of clothing], tell me what you were wearing.” and the “I see you every day and we could be soul mates if you just gave it a chance.”
They are both fantastic things to read. Part of me reads it for the humor, another part reads it for the humanity, and the last part reads it looking for a reference to a “tall boy wearing a green hat.” It is the last, best place to find an expression of what Kurt Vonnegut calls “the most pervasive American disease.” Loneliness.
At one point in our lives, we have all been adrift in that sea of solitude. It’s the thing that makes girls put on shoes that give them blisters. It’s the place where some men find God. It’s the reason why I keep in touch with ex-girlfriends. We are sad little people screaming at the darkness.
If you get a chance this Sunday, head on over to Craigslist and keep an eye on the Missed Connections thread. Watch as the sad and beautiful little people of the human race grope and pray for a connection in the cold wilderness of life.
Editor in Chief