Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Only Connect

I heard it said once that we are most emphatic about correcting those "faults" in others that we perceive in ourselves.

If the 1,000 Knitters project leads me repeatedly to harangue the participants about learning to love themselves, that's why. You're reading the words of a fellow who for ten years never once looked at himself in the mirror. I even learned to shave my face by feel. I can deal with mirrors now, but I still don't like them.

Needless to say, this (what to call it? fault? attitude? neurosis?) peculiarity is an impediment when it comes to the pursuit of anything approaching romance. Fine, I know I'm not the ugliest man in the world. I know that I even have a feature or two that might be considered choice. However, my reaction to any indication of interest from my fellow men is still unmasked suprise, followed immediately by incredulity.

It came as a complete shock, therefore, when a former colleague alerted me to a notice somebody had posted on Craigslist (with which I was only vaguely familiar) in "Missed Connections," a section in which the lovelorn (or lustful) take a shot at finding those they have noticed from afar but been unable to meet.

The writer, in this instance, was looking to speak to a short guy, with a shaved head and goatee, who knit most weekday mornings on the Red Line heading north out of the city. I had to admit that did sound rather familiar.

There has been no subsequent connection, but I found the "Missed Connections" concept so amusing that reading them has become a regular feature of my day. Most of the time they follow a predictible pattern:
  1. Man sees other man in gymnasium / restaurant / elevator / steel mill.
  2. Man senses that other man shares mutual interest.
  3. For some reason (i.e., "I was with my wife") man cannot approach other man at that moment.
  4. Man suggests that if other man recognizes himself from the description and is interested, he should get in touch.
Occasionally, though–and this is why I can't stop reading them–I am rewarded with a "Missed Connection" so delicious that I feel it should be collected in an anthology and set to music.

Here are a couple recent gems for your delectation. The titles and commentary are mine, of course.

Two Guys in a Nightclub
"Got the courage to talk to you just before I went home. You said your name was like the animal. I would like to see you again." (Giraffe, are you out there?)
Two Guys in Another Nightclub
"I wish I had given you my number. I'm the guy with similar hair." (Two guys with similar hair in a gay bar? What are the odds?)
Two Guys Eating Burritos
"You were having lunch at the Chipotle around 2 or 3pm maybe. You're pretty hot.
What's up?" (Well, that narrows it down, doesn't it?)
Two Guys, One of Them Clueless, On a Cruise Ship
"Patrick? Met you on a Carnival Cruise and haven't heard from you since -- what happened? I hope you see this..." (I bet I can guess what happened to Patrick.)
Two Guys and a Hard Disk
"You fixed my computer. Thank you." (Is this a euphemism? Or just a rather odd way to offer customer feedback?)
And I only read the "M4M" listings. I can't even imagine what must go on in the "M4W" and "W4M" sections. I bet you straight types get up to some freaky stuff. I've heard rumors.

50 comments:

lizbon said...

Of course, my question is, are you now peering surreptitiously around the train car looking for the fellow who wrote your own "missed connection" listing?

Perhaps he will bring some yarn and needles and ask you to teach him. Come to think of it, you could always post an answer suggesting he do just that...

lizbon said...

PS. Unless he already knits, too.

geogrrl said...

Odd, that. I think you're a pretty good-looking guy. But I guess we never see ourselves as others do.

My parents, who haven't seen one another since I was born, have different views of my mother. She remembers herself as tall, gawky, and overweight. My father remembers her as tall, graceful, and extremely pretty. Go figure.

I don't mind my own face, but have never liked my body much, so I spend as little time as possible looking at it.

Jasmin said...

I just don't get it. The post said that you "knit most weekday mornings on the Red Line heading north out of the city".

Maybe I watch too many FBI shows, but that sounds like a routine. Which means that on any number of days, he could approach you and *not* miss the connection, thus eliminating Craig's list from the equation.

Of course, my mother called my pick-up method "The 2x4".

Subtle is not my bag, baby.

JoVE said...

I agree with Jasmin. It also sounds like he is on the Red line most mornings (or how would he know you are there?). Baffling.

Have I been hanging out in the queer community too long or did everyone have to read that title of that last one twice to notice that it was diSk?

pacalaga said...

Jasmin, that's hilarious. (I thought the same thing about the routine part.) Love "the 2x4".
I guess it's about indicating interest without actually making the first real move. Interesting - instead of having Suzie pass a note that says "Billy likes you" you can put it on the internet.
FWIW, you seem pretty attractive to me, Franklin, both in pictures and in persona.

Paul said...

Well, I guess we really are our "own worst enemy" at times... While I know what I consider to be my "faults", I'm always surprised that other people have them too.

datatech57 said...

Gee, Franklin. I think you are pretty cute. Of course, I am straight woman, happily married for almost 21 years, and probably several inches taller than you are, so that doesn't do either of us any good. I was glad to find a fellow taller than I am who is also a prince of a guy.

Eldronius said...

That is very funny that you actually found this craigslist post. How often does that happen?

And I agree that obviously this person sees you on a regular basis and says nothing. I would expect at least a "hey, what is that you are making?" or something. Oh well, I can't be one to talk about other people being shy!

Helena Handbasket said...

I think pacalaga is right -- he wants to know what your up for Franklin, without making an "in person" move on public transport.

Okay, okay, I'll take the bait -- what the hell happened to Patrick? As one of those admittedly freaky straights I have a vague guess on what happened to Patrick. Since, however, you were the original reader of the actual post and had an automatic reaction, I'd be far more interested in your take on what happened to Patrick. So Mr. Habit, regale us with the saga of "What Really Happened to Patrick". This could be great fun -- your turn to take the bait.

Kay said...

Jove, straight girl here, and I did a little double take too. Maybe it was being raised by a gay man and his numerous drag queen buddies...
Franklin, you are hot. Hot hot hot.
Too bad my dad's not still alive or I'd totally try and hook you guys up...

meg said...

I love reading "missed connections" ads. They're like tiny little stories in 50 words or less.

Mel said...

Craigslist is just such a foreign thing to me. Not the concept so much - the basic idea has been around for a while in the local a & e rags most cities of any size have - but it's fascinating that it's become this huge phenomenon. And yet I've only ever looked at the site maybe once, briefly.

The whole secret admirer thing is intriguing, though. On some level it seems like it would be almost more tempting just to keep the mystery than to make the connection. Of course, the fact that I've never had anything really good come out of an internet connection may have something to do with that.

Brenda said...

I work in Evanston too, and I have actually seen another short, bald, goateed guy knitting at the Davis el station who definitely isn't you. So, hey, 50/50 chance the message was for you...?

MonicaPDX said...

Well, you could start carrying a sock you only knit on the train, and anytime someone says something about it, mention you're knitting it for a secret admirer--if they ever get up the courage to approach you. If, that is, you never followed up on the Craigslist comment. ;) (And if I were male, gay, a couple decades younger, and had the courage, I'd be hitching my way to Chicago, hauling my stash, ok? But I know the feeling. I look at the few pix of me back in my late teens, early 20's, and my reaction is always, "Holy shit, I was really pretty!")

As to yesterday's cheesecloth comment (I missed a day, gack) - cheesecloth? No! Unblocked, it resembles a froth of silk cloud. The fabric is so gorgeous unblocked that I could see it as a sweater, just as it is!

sarah said...

Oh my word....that's hilarious! You've become the famous hot gay knitter on the Red Line! Betcha never thought that's what would make you famous, huh?

PICAdrienne said...

I have to agree with several of the other posters. You are a hottie. I may not be your type, but, I would enjoy meeting with you and knitting with you, in a coffee shop, taking up valuable study space during finals! But, I do have an evil streak I guess.

La Cabeza Grande said...

Wow! I thought I was the only person who avoided mirrors and photographs.

For years, I couldn't bring myself to look into one straight on. I did this sideways glancing sort of thing just to make sure there were no obvious faux pas (zipper open, spinach in teeth). It takes a lot of work to really "see" ourselves.

If I were a single man, I'd ask you out in a heartbeat!

Elizabeth said...

Franklin, it's hard for me to believe you feel that way about yourself! It seems so obvious to me that you're a hottie, I guess I don't know how anyone would not agree.

Patrick moved in to the house next door to mine. He lives with Brian and they run a little sex-palace business in a mild-mannered ranch house subdivision! And he's an EMT. Anything else I can tell you about Patrick?

mk said...

The M4W ones, in my avid reading of them in different cities, have what I find to be a disturbing number of lonely men with huge crushes on the young ladies who serve them their morning coffee.

KnitNana said...

(sigh)
Why can't we just walk up to each other and say "hello?"
But I surely "get" the idea of feeling surprised when someone shows interest!
(((hugs)))

Sean said...

I know you weren't fishing, but you know I think you're just the cutest thing!

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Missed Connections and read them often for fun. It's like reading the funnies or something. BUT, I've never read one about the guy on the red line, sun glasses and iPod (keeping the world out, by the way) knitting...sigh.

This gave me such a chuckle. I think I'm going to go try to find it!

MollyBeees said...

Franklin, you are positively adorable in every way!

Cherice said...

Yep, you're definitely good looking. (I'm straight and married for many many years) And just from reading your blog (and the one the Yarn Harlot wrote about you showing her the sights in Chicago) I know that you'd be a lot of fun to hang out with.

Nerdy Knitter said...

Oh, the mirror "phobia." I know it only too well myself. Although I don't have a recollection of getting over it, which I wish I had because I'm so much better about it that it would be nice to have a life-changing moment in my arsenal of memories, wouldn't it?

No one has asked what you're going to do (or have done) about the Missed COnnection ad...inquiring minds (my husband would say "nosy nates") want to know. Please?

Nina said...

In one of the French daily newspapers (Liberation) there is a special section, called transports amoureux (if i remember rightly) especially so that people can contact that person they saw on the train, metro, in that traffic jam.

sweetfigs said...

Oooo, do you always take the same train car in the morning? I picture your Missed Connection running down the platform desperately looking for the car you're sitting in. Have fun!

anneonymousone said...

Sarah's phrase "hot gay knitter on the Red Line" sounds like a perfect title for an alt.country song. (I'm not a country fan, but some alt.country funky rock-esque folk stuff can be fun.) It scans beautifully.

debsnm said...

Answer the ad - you never know.

marie in florida said...

today i told my son he could block the beret i sent him on a dinner plate, he said all the plates in his aunt's house are square. sounds like a Franklin Cartoon. we giggled...LOL...
i'm glad you got past the part where you didn't like to look at yourself. it takes some doing. wanna tell us how you did it?

Anonymous said...

Dag. My crush on you is so intense that all my co-workers are so used to me talking about you, if I miss a day or two, they ask how you are. It's the old cliche - "He's so cute (and kind and sweet and intelligent and Buddhist, and he KNITS, and READS, and he doesn't drink), too bad he's gay."

When I first moved to New York in the mid-80's, the Voice had all the missed connections on the back page, mixed in with personals and other oddball ads. Only many were in code! I, of course, thought they were all addressed to me, and wasted many hours drinking coffee with my few friends, trying to decipher them. I hate to talk about the good old days, but the craigslist ads pale in comparison.
In the absence of anything else, they are amusing, though.

rosesmama

Riin said...

Well, as a straight woman, I think you're very attractive, but I know what you mean. For years I was very overweight, and my mother's words ("you would be so pretty *if only* you lost weight") had seared themselves into my brain. She may as well have just told me I was ugly the way I was. So I carefully avoided mirrors, especially full length ones. I actually had no idea what size I was since I never looked at myself. When I see photos of myself from that era (rare, because I also avoided cameras), it's always a bit of a shock. It's like my body was a stranger to me.

Now that I'm thinner (though still not thin), I'm able to look in the mirror, and I'm mostly ok with what I see, though not entirely. But it's my body, and it works, and it'll do. The odd thing is, I don't always have an accurate idea of my size. Sometimes I see another woman, and I honestly have no idea if she's the same size I am, or larger, or smaller. My body seems to still be a stranger.

I hope all of these comments have helped you realize that other people do see you as attractive. It's hard in our culture where there's one defined look of beauty for men and one defined look of beauty for women, and anyone who deviates from it is supposedly unattractive. What bullshit.

Ann (yet another) said...

Brenda, if he looks like he plays for the same team, give hin Franklin's URL.

If he sees you "regularly" why not be bold and ask what you are knitting? Or wink? Are you in the morning "quiet car?" What's with that?

And Patrick probably lives down the street with Tom and their daschsie.

knitting labrat said...

If I was a guy and gay, I would totally hit on you...just for your sharp pointy needles ;). Missed connections? I'm usually the person that plops herself down in the other person's lap and says Hi!

Donna Lee said...

I am a soon to be 50 year old woman who has never thought of myself as pretty. My husband of 25+ years recently asked me to do a 1940's style pinup photo (I'll never ask for another thing again) because he thinks I am beautiful. I wish I could see myself through his eyes.

Linda said...

How strange that he felt unable to speak to you. Knitting really seems to break the ice, usually.

Another other mother said...

I love reading the "Missed Connection" personal ads. My all-time favorite was one that had a very specific description of a guy in a bar (time, date, clothing) and then said "I wasn't actually there but my friend thought you'd be perfect for me."

Laurel said...

I *SWEAR.* If you come to the Bay Area with your camera for your project, we will not subject you to body image issues. We will still feel them, of course. But we will not subject you to them. Also, we will take you to fun bars with cute men and good food. Not that we're trying to bribe you or anything. Because, of course, that would be wrong.

IrreverendAmy said...

I'll add my voice to those clamoring that Franklin is a Hottie. AND smart, self-aware, funny, Buddhist, and a knitter . . . If I weren't married and you weren't gay and we didn't live 2000 miles apart, watch out!

So, why no connection on the Red Line guy? Given that it does sound like he knows where to find you, maybe he's just putting out feelers, too shy to make a bolder move. (And maybe he doesn't know if you're gay and/or single.)

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

You would LOVE this project. Someone replies to these Crag's List ads with another add that simply says, "That's my wife, asshole," and then posts the further replies on his blog.

Hard to explain, hilariously evil.

http://thatsmygirlasshole.blogspot.com/

Helen said...

I once read an interview with Isabella Rossellini where she referred to having a 'short, fat day', and I thought, well, maybe I look like Isabella Rossellini, because if she feels short and fat too, how would I know? I know of course that I don't look like her - I'm blonde after all - but I found it really liberating because I realised that so much of this stuff comes from inside ourselves and has very little to do with how we actually look.

Maybe Isabella has days when she feels short and bald too. Not that that's a bad thing, as you've just discovered from all these comments.

Kara said...

Oh, how romantic, to be someone's missed connection! Dude, you're my hero.

Lee Ann said...

If it's true that there's another goateed guy hanging out knitting at the Davis el station...hmmm...if I were you, I'd go down there to see what I could see :-)

I just turned 40, Franklin, and I've only just started being able to see whatever other people see when they say I'm pretty. Oddly, everyone else but my partner thinks I look younger and compliments me on it, and my partner also comments on body parts that are disproportionate to the rest of me, like my large shoulders and my square feet. This doesn't exactly help with seeing beauty in myself. So when he tells other people I'm beautiful, I'm surprised.

(He does tell me I'm beautiful, but I rarely believe him. If he'd shut up about the shoulders and stop telling me I look 42, I might change my mind.)

But I've been too long the tiny, shy, dorky kid. The training doesn't fade fast, and I totally understand your aversion to mirrors.

That said, sugar, you're beautiful.

Tomme said...

"I bet you straight types get up to some freaky stuff. I've heard rumors." This needed to come with a warning. Now I have to clean spewed Dr. Pepper off my screen.

Helen said...

I could not resist... I went to see what was posted in M4W. The first posting, titled "Guilt" said this:

"we are just ape covers for energy fields

the energy vibe doesn't care about who slept with who

only your ego is worried about who did what when with whom"

I'm not at all sure what to make of that.

Meanwhile, I think we should get you a new mirror. Your current mirror is obviously lying. As others have said before -- you are hot, foxy, cute, and otherwise generally attractive. And you are also delightful to be around. Perhaps a new mirror will let you see that too. (but not too much, lest you morph into one of those dreadful "men' who KNOW they're totally hot, and thus become wholly UNPLEASANT to be around.)

Marlena said...

However, my reaction to any indication of interest from my fellow men is still unmasked suprise, followed immediately by incredulity.
This line resonated with me, because I have always been the same way. I blame school, though. People were always coming up to me and telling me someone had a crush on me, when in fact, no one had a crush on me, because I was the biggest geek in my class. (Or, if anyone did, they certainly would never own up to it.)

I've always secretly hoped that on one of those rare occasions when I check out a missed connection listing, someone will describe me. I guess it's just nice to be noticed, even if you have no interest in meeting someone.

Judy in Indiana said...

Please don't leave us hanging! Tell us if you have seen this man or if he left a description of yourself so you can find him. Are you even interested? The story feels unfinished and enquiring minds want to know....

sarah said...

Also! What's up with you being at Stitches Midwest? Will we be able to pose for you there, or what? ; )

holyspigot said...

Some of the best things in life come from Craigslist.

You may appreciate this one, compliments of the audience at the San Francisco ballet a few nights ago.

Anonymous said...

But Franklin, you are so cute!