Commuting with Books: Missed Connections Everywhere

Craigslist Missed Connections: who hasn’t spent a few joyful minutes perusing them with oohs and ahhs and chortling during their lunch break? Who hasn’t scanned them more purposefully after a particularly memorable jousting session of eyeballs across a crowded subway train, hoping in vain that the mystery man or woman has sent a virtual message in a bottle out to you?

Don’t deny it.

Since last week saw New York Comic Con come and go with raucous cosplaying crowds and many hours spent being herded like cattle through narrow hallways with thousands of other con-goers, I’ve had the missed connections thing on my mind. Specifically, I’ve had the geeky missed connection thing on my mind.

And then it came to a head at the end of the week when I tripped my way onto the subway on the Upper West Side and before me stood a perfect missed connection if ever I saw one.

He was reading Neil Gaiman’s Stardust and looked quite sane. To be honest, that was all I noticed. It was early, and I hadn’t had my coffee yet. So I whipped out my commuting-book – yes I have different books for different locations – and settled in for the final few stops on my ride.

The wheels only started to turn later on when I saw a fellow blogger who had covered and photographed New York City Comic Con post about a downright dreamy Captain America cosplayer and how she wished she hadn’t been so tongue-tied when she took his picture.

Thanks to the internet, the advent of Missed Connections, and the size and tech-savvyness of the geeky community, you never know if a missive sent out into the ether will garner you a return. Sometimes it does. Sometimes it just isn’t meant to be.

As a commuter in New York, I spend a lot of time checking out the other people on the train – checking out what they’re reading, I mean. While I understand and treasure the anonymity of my own e-reader because it keeps the judging eyes like my own from knowing I’m reading a romance novel, I also hate it because I can’t tell if that attractive guy sitting across from me is reading something horrifying or my favorite book.

Making up little stories about the other readers on the train has become one of my favorite things. I love the number of people I see not plugged into mp3 players and headphones. I love how many people I see reading novels and newspapers and doing crossword puzzles. I’ve even gotten myself caught staring at people who fill out crossword puzzles with enviable speed.

Literary missed connections happen to me all the time. I like to compose them in my head as I leave a subway station. Here’s from this morning:

I’ve also come up with the following:

I was tangled in my umbrella and reading Game of Thrones. You were on the edge of your seat with The Return of the King. Clearly we are meant for each other.

You were filling out the New York Times crossword puzzle with remarkable speed. I was arguing with my friend about word choice in an article. We should combine powers.

We were waiting for the A train at Jay Street. The reflection in your glasses told me you were reading Ender’s Game. I nearly asked you what army you were in but didn’t want to interrupt what was clearly a first read given the speed you were advancing through pages.

I haven’t actually posted these missed connections on craigslist. It makes me nervous. That hasn’t stopped me from tweeting them though. I don’t know why twitter makes me less nervous than craigslist, but it does. Plus, it keeps me short and pithy.

And really, what are the chances that the reading boys of New York City are actually following me on Twitter?