I’m feeling really lucky for both of us right now. Lucky for me because after taking a little break from blogging to bounce to Italy (photos of international bidets to come) I get to come backatchya with a wonderful guest blog post from Brett Fletcher Lauer, whose poems you can read here, here and here, and whose new Missed Connections-themed site, Ships That Pass, you should check out immediately. And boy do I feel lucky for you, because now you get to read Brett’s excellent, knowing account of his own initial foray into the world of internet relationships, continued after the jump.
My First Fake Missed Connection
In the spring of 2007, as my divorce was being finalized, I began dating online. I composed my profile by playing a poetic parlor game at a friend’s apartment with a copy of The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens, among other books, randomly plucking phrases and lines that both amused us and provided answers to the questions being asked.A distant third consideration was whether the phrase sufficiently represented my sensibility, or the sensibility we were crafting for me. By the end of the evening my profile read in part:
-The word or phrase that best describes my personality: Cricket Impresario -The best or worst lie I’ve ever told: The apples fall without astronomy. -If I was given a million dollars: A little island of geese and stars.
-The role religion plays in my life: He felt curious about the winter hills. -Why You Should Get to Know Me: Prefers the brightness of bells, imperceptible errors, and a speech of the self that must sustain itself on speech. -More About What I Am Looking For: Canaries in the morning, orchestras. My heart pinned in a trance to the notice board.
I rode the N train home that night and signed in.
* * * Click here: Just what you never knew you were going to get. Click here: Sugar on Spikes. Click here: Placing the ass in Cassidy since 1979. Click here: What’s wrong with a little self-destruction? It’s a frenzy of clicking. I refresh the dating website. I refresh the dating website again. I’m idle, offline, staring at the skyline until I give in: How many views in the last half hour? It’s spring. Let the couples who find themselves outdoors observe that it is spring. Let them be intoxicated with noting that it is spring, pointing out flowers about to bud, and wandering with their golden retrievers to cafés serving microbrews. I’m inside devising searches by height, age, and location to generate a photo of someone new. I’m watching you watch me flickering on the screen in what looks like an orchard or pumpkin patch. A left arm is around your waist. The body of a stranger is cropped out. Your ex-boyfriend’s phantom wristwatch still shimmers in the corner.
I post another photo. It’s important to post several photos, current, and in good lighting, preferably in which I’m wearing a shirt. I want you to think I’m serious and beautiful. I post another photo. In this one I’m wearing a fedora and look past you. Here I am, positioned according to the rule of thirds, with the Empire State Building lit up over my shoulder in the window in the background. In this final photo, I’m in the kitchen wearing a Halloween mask of a horse’s head. * * *
The first email I receive is a single sentence:
Please describe an “imperceptible error.”
I write back: Dear Mary,That’s a good question, but to answer adequately I might need to sketch diagrams and would definitely require a dry erase board. But I will give it a go; it is, after all, in my profile. I would say imperceptible errors are the errors which define a person, and in defining are imperceptible as parts. They are what make the person who she or he is and add to their charm. I just looked up “error” in the Oxford English Dictionary. Its original meaning was “to wander,” as in Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “The damsel’s headlong error thro’ the wood.” I like the idea of wanderings which cannot be “apprehended with the mind or senses” or be captured. How is that?
Brett Dear Brett,
I’d like to see some Venn diagrams and maybe a Gantt chart. Are you saying “Quirks”? To me, quirks don’t equal errors. I was thinking imperceptible errors would be like, very tiny mistakes that add up over time and then climate change happens or your stove explodes. Bad examples, maybe. I can see how wander would come to mean error. It’s interesting it would go from literal to figurative like that.
Do you like poop?
* * *I email a different a girl, and she emails me, then I email her, then she emails me, and then I email her. Soon almost a week has passed. She’s busy. She’s dating someone else. She notices I’m divorced. The whimsy of my photo wearing the horse’s head is lost on her or is a distinct sign of creepiness. Buyer beware. We would never work out. She lives in Greenpoint. But a virtual brush off is still a brush off. So I check Missed Connections. Every single woman is beautiful: in tights and cowboys boots, red flats and a black mini-skirt, a tattoo of a star on her wrist, a broken heart on your arm, skinny gray jeans and white sneakers in the rain.
I sign in, check my dating profile and then Missed Connections. At 3 a.m. I’m asleep and not dancing at Home Sweet Home. I don’t shop at Whole Foods on Tuesday with a green tote or ride a mountain bike across the bridge. Zero Missed Connections for me.
I ride the subway to work. I have baby blue high-top sneakers, square tortoise frame glasses. Someone must have seen me. We sat across from each other. I was reading Tolstoy. You were listening to your iPod. You got off; I wanted to say something. It is important to remember that each person I exchange chit-chat with is a possible Missed Connection. Today a woman approached me at the coffee shop. I think you dropped this. I was caught off-guard. My friend tells me that Missed Connections don’t happen, you make them happen. I like your scarf. I just finished reading that book. Pathologically pathetic, I hold the door open for anyone. I tuck in my shirt. Today I walked past Parker Posey and made eye contact. We were on our cell phones. Let it start to rain so we can duck under the same awning to wait for the storm to clear.
* * *
I get back to my apartment and check Missed Connections out of loneliness and boredom, which are the same. There is a beauty in anonymous strangers reaching out into the ether to find someone they believe to have shared a moment with. Some have shared the moment and then lost the phone number. My phone isn’t ringing. Nothing is happening. I must make something happen.
I write my first fake Missed Connection:
It may or may not be unfortunate that people search for certain sex, anonymous travels, individuals for laughter, or text messages all night. It takes time to write these emails with a personal account reduced to various forms of opportunities and objects I can’t account for. Click here: just what you never knew you were going to get, a girl prowling about town, sugar on spikes, what’s wrong with a little self-destruction, placing the ass in Cassidy since 1979. Set standards, and bingo break ’em. It takes time to uncover each other, start off and finish the walk in the park, later dismiss the passage or the symphony heard on the barge circling sirens from the island. It may be artificial, it is artificial, but I won’t shoot myself footless, brave waters in a kayak and some shy garment. Others are determined to attend fashion week or a free bluegrass concert on an abandoned pier. I swear I want this whole world just not most of that. Let’s just talk about this sunset, or the rosy fingers of dawn, better still dirty-talk if you say so, both of us, at once, starting now. It may end up being a touch to never scrub away. This may or may not be mutually beneficial, but here I am, two miles away, your three-night stand, rain or shine, on foot.
And, small World Wide Web that it is, Cassidy responds:
Dear Mr. Mystery Missed Connection,I’m not sure if your post had anything to do with me, but my friend passed it along because my MySpace tagline is “putting the ass in Cassidy since 1979.” Although fashion week and bluegrass concerts aren’t ringing a bell, that’s potentially my ass you’re talking about. Have we met?
I don’t know you. I wrote that based on profiles from a dating site. It was meant to be a project to see if I could take all the interesting language and tag-lines and craft it into a text that represented that strange experience. Perhaps I didn’t think it all the way through. I didn’t mean for you to stumble upon it, and hope it didn’t freak you out too much. I’ll remove the posting if it did.
Hey Jake, It’s no problem – I was mostly bewildered, since 90% of the entry was unfamiliar (…but since I was at McCarren Pool twice this week, I figured I would check it out). It’s pure luck that I have a friend that peruses Missed Connections! Don’t worry about taking it down. It’s not really deprecatory, just odd. I do feel sheepish for being busted for being on a dating site, though.Cassidy
Oh, don’t feel sheepish. You got “caught” by someone who is also on the site. That doesn’t really count. Also, to come clean, and make this entire thing even more creepy, my name isn’t Jake.
Brett Fletcher Lauer is the managing director of the Poetry Society of America and the poetry editor of A Public Space. His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Boston Review, Tin House, and elsewhere. He curates the fake Missed Connection tumblr shipsthatpass.tumblr.com.