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The Bijou Chronicles Steven Toushin
I STARED AT YOUR BULGE ON THE TRAIN
by Steven Toushin and Madame Bubby
2013-05-15

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Random Thoughts on Missed Connections Craigslist

The narcissist in me sometimes peruses the M4M missed connections section on Craigslist, wondering: Did anyone notice me? Was that hurried glance the beginning of a cruise? Now, I've never been that perceptive about the cruise dynamic (I remember in college someone grinding their teeth in frustration, exclaiming, "Don't you realize that man has been staring at you?" I honestly was not aware), but in a time when everyone seems plugged into iPods while staring at smartphones, obsessively texting (about what?), I sometimes wonder if all these missed connections ever really happen in the first place.

Case in point: Recently, someone posted on missed connections claiming that he thinks some of these missed connections might be jack-off material—in other words, fictitious. He argues that it seems rather odd that all this staring and groping and grinding is going on in public view on subways and buses. Even accounts of guys jacking each other off in the saunas and steam rooms of gyms and health clubs (that seems to be a major location for missed connections) seem to him rather far-fetched. Along these lines, there also seems to be a common theme in these ads of noticing hot cable TV or computer/internet repair people and asking them to return so as to pay them back in non-monetary ways (now I would agree that is definitely a porn jack-off fantasy).

I can't vouch for any of the above; I do know that the usual places for public cruising are still bathrooms and, in the Chicago area, certain forest preserves. Surprisingly, based on my perusal of recent ads, bars, even "rougher" ones like Touché, which still contains a backroom for activity, don't even make the list these days as missed connection potential.

Actually, there have been more and more accounts of guys noticing each other and mildly flirting in "suburban family" restaurants like Applebee's. Here's a typical one:

"Applebee's, Sunday brunch (Matteson) — 28. You, blond with deep blue eyes, wearing a tight black t-shirt, were eating with what seemed to be your parents and grandmother. You complimented me on my sweater and asked me what I was eating. You are so cute. Hope you see this."

The usual question one asks is if any of these missed connections ever end up connecting. I wonder if these ads reflect the shift in social norms, not only because the way people now connect in non-physical ways like social media, but the gradual acceptance of LGBT into the mainstream culture. Maybe physical affection on trains and flirting in ostensibly straight locations outside "gay ghettos" shows this trend.

What I find particularly significant about ads like the above Applebee's one is the face-to-face social interaction component. There's more to a connection than staring at a bulge through clouds of steam, however stimulating. A little bit of small talk without relying on electronic devices can lead to bigger, deeper talks. And down the road you might end up sitting with your husband in a restaurant. Now that scenario might be just as much of a fantasy as doing it with the cable repairman or the guy working out next to you. But remember, to quote the famous poet John Donne, "no man is an island," even in the lonely yet crowded world of missed connections.

www.bijouworld.com


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