If you ask us how we met, my boyfriend of three years will say online. He’s being deliberately provocative, because he knows I think he’s wrong. All the furtive staring and weird lurking and wordless, inexplicable hanging out — the activities that would eventually yield our love — did not take place online. How could they? They took place at St. Mark’s Bookshop, because that is where we met.
That the Internet got involved, in the form of a Craigslist Missed Connection, happened later.
It was sometime after 9 p.m. on Tuesday, August 24, 2010. I had recently quit my job. I was feeling, in a general way, very jazzed. I didn’t have anything to do or anyone to see, but I wasn’t ready to stop being in the world, so I went into St. Mark's Bookshop, which was open late. I looked at fiction. A blond guy was doing the same.
At what point did we exit the realm of ordinary urban sizing-up (Lapham’s Quarterly tote, nice glasses, blue eyes) and begin behaving strangely? Hard to say. But there are only so many ways to browse the first half of the alphabet (pick up some Ann Beattie, hold it in front of your face, strain your peripheral vision) before you are indisputably up to something. We did not speak. This is important — approached directly, I become squeamish and eager for escape. If he had spoken to me, we probably never would have spoken again. Obviously, I would not say anything to him, because what could I say? Your hair is nice, I like the way your face moves, I wonder how you smell? Attempting to discuss books did not occur to me. I wanted physical proximity uncomplicated by saying stuff. I wanted to wait indefinitely. How long were we there? I think an hour, but I’m not sure.
When he started for the register, I followed, overshot him, and lit a cigarette in front of the store. I felt like a spy. I had, I would later tell him, an agenda but no plan. He’d bought Anne Carson, he would later tell me, because he hoped I’d be impressed. I would stop smoking, at his behest, a couple months later; for now, though, the cigarette was crucial. I looked at my phone as he walked out the door, and when he started up Third Avenue, I followed. I watched his back from a quarter block behind, all the way to 14th Street, where we descended and boarded an arriving L train, same car. I sat; he stood across from me. At Lorimer Street, when I got off, I looked back through the window twice, hard.
Which brings me to the vexed question of the Missed Connection. "Meeting online" suggests some over-determined set of premises — even Tinder requires choosing to play the game. You have to know, or at least think you know, what you’re after. But New York is for figuring that kind of thing out: for having jobs and quitting them and feeling a little giddy, for looking at strangers and realizing you don’t want to stop.
Anyway, the next night, I found this:
Girl with a Granta bag - m4w (East Village)
Yesterday at almost ten we were in the bookstore, each carrying a bag from a literary magazine. Then we rode the L train together. We made a lot of eye contact, which was nice. Craigslist remains weird; who are you?
“Hi!” I wrote. “I'm Molly. Who are you?”
Most Viewed Stories
Melania Trump Is Reportedly ‘Miserable’ in Her Role As First Lady
Nighttime Voice-mails From the White House
My Daughter’s Suburban Childhood Looks Nothing Like My Urban One
Trump Somehow Found a Way to Insult Women at the Unveiling of an Airplane
When Good Christian Girls Need Planned Parenthood
Fixer Upper’s First Single Bachelor Is Causing Some Drama
Angelina Jolie Attended the Premiere of Her New Movie in Cambodia
Chrissy Teigen on ‘Underrepresented’ Asian Models and Appropriation
Zoe Saldana Shares the First Photo of Her Newborn Baby
Angela Merkel Is Also Powerless Against Justin Trudeau’s Gaze
The Cut’s Latest Love and War FeaturesA Holiday Season Weekend Through London
A good guide for avid The Crown fans.It’s About Time You Learned Tove Lo’s Name
The singer has crafted pop hits you’ve heard a thousand times by now.Marina Abramovic Has Outlasted Her Lovers and, She Hopes, Her Critics
The world's most famous performance artist at 70.The Wing: Do Women Still Need a Space of Their Own?
This exclusive social club for women, is part sorority, part start-up.In Virtual Reality, Women Run the World
A new generation of female artists is making VR the most diverse corner of the male-dominated tech space.The Novelist Disguised As a Housewife
Shirley Jackson wrote 17 books while raising four children — and she couldn't have had a successful career without them.Ava DuVernay on Hollywood Racism, Modern-Day Slavery, and Why She’s Still an Optimist
The director, whose new documentary The 13th chronicles America’s history of racial subjugation, talks to Rebecca Traister about Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the modern criminal-justice system.What No One Tells Couples Trying to Conceive
It helps to be rich.The Hidden Black Women Who Helped Win the Space Race
A segregated unit of mathematicians born of desperation during World War II became the secret to NASA’s success.Slut-Shaming Squids Are Everywhere
The “Bermuda Square” comic strip is back.
The collaboration that dreams are made of.Good Morning America Host Amy Robach Apologizes for Saying ‘Colored People’ on Air
She quickly apologized.Unknown NFL Player Tries to Get Attention by Asking Aly Raisman Out in Video
That’s one way to do it.Don’t Mess This Up, Mischa Barton
Marissa Cooper is poised for a comeback ... maybe.California Votes to Remove Time Limit on Prosecuting Rape Cases
In light of the Bill Cosby case.Beyoncé’s Behind-the-Scenes Lemonade Photos Belong in a Museum
She had the "Boycott Beyoncé" sign already in formation on set.The Rise of the Male Celebrity Full-Frontal
An ex-publicist explains.Gabby Douglas Will Be a Miss America Judge
The gold-medal gymnast will help choose the 2017 pageant winner.Camille Becerra’s Photo Diary of Rockaway Beach
An ideal trip to add and cross off your summer bucket list.Sorry Nerds, Ian McKellen Won’t Officiate Your Expensive Lord of the Rings–Themed Wedding
Not even for $1.5 million.