You Smiled

I’m thinking about missed connections. I’m reading a five year old Washington City Paper “I Saw You” column, that I’ve kept for its poignancy factor, in which people placed ads to try and find people they’d briefly encountered on the street. Most of them write with wistfulness, desperately hoping that the person they’re looking for will read this somewhat obscure column at just the right time, realize someone’s looking for them and then get in touch. They’re hoping they can make up for their stupidity at not grabbing that person right then and there and marrying them on the spot.

And I can see why it’s sad. Because I met my husband in a mud puddle back in 1979, and we did have a conversation, and that conversation led to my certainty that he was the one, and — well — I was right. I don’t have regrets (at least not about that!).

So I’m wondering if the folks who smiled at each other at the corner of 5th and F, NE or the Borders in Fairfax, or at the Chevy Chase DC post office or the Sparkle Carwash… well did they ever connect?

Here are some snippets from the ads:

  • As we drew closer to passing, I couldn’t help but smile and you smiled back and we continued in opposite directions. My brother finally convinced me to turn around and approach you after we had passed, but as soon as I got the nerve you were out of sight. Care to share a smile again?
  • We shared a smile… and a laugh. What I should have done was go over and introduce myself, what I did do was… walk right off the train. Want the opportunity to share another smile sometime?
  • We smiled at each other while you were on line at the post office…. I’d love to talk mopeds and mail with you over ice cream sometime?? I know we’d have fun. Hope to see your smile again!
  • Driving…. You were in a blue Pathfinder with NC plates. I was in a black Honda….. We glanced and you gave me that great smile. You exited way too soon!! I would love to see that smile again.
  • Your beauty and smile emanated kindness. I found myself thinking of you that day and the next. If I saw you again, I’d like to say more.

What strikes me the most about these encounters is that the people for the most part didn’t even talk. In almost every case it was just a smile exchanged that made one of them want to seek out the other, made them feel they had missed something potentially beautiful. And that’s just so damn touching, isn’t it?

Maybe the lost other really would be the soulmate of the seeker, and these ads are about specific connections that must be made or the universe is simply not in order. But maybe we’re just all starved for smiles, and when we see one, we’re enraptured because so much of the time we’re seeing the tops of heads of people hunched over their smartphones.

Maybe a smile flashed at us lights up some part of the brain that’s been dormant. Isn’t it cool that we have that potential to impact each other?

And isn’t it cool that someone may be looking for you, because you were the one who smiled on the subway platform last week, and that was unusual, beautiful and rare… and you affected someone deeply.

Check the ads in your local paper.




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