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Jan 17, 2009

Missed Connections Nostalgia

Remember the Indy's old Missed Connections ads?  If you're from the Triangle, I'll bet you do.

Seven years ago when I was having a perfectly lousy winter into spring, I fantasized about people writing Missed Connections ads with me in mind:

Missed Connections for the Indy
And I sent them to the Indy under a pseudonym:

From: Lucas Merriman
To:     Indyweek
Date:  May 14, 2002
Subject: semi-fiction inspired by the Indy

Hello Indyweek --

There are two things I read every week in the Indy – Red Meat and Missed Connections. In every issue, they speak directly to my sense of optimistic, out-of-synch despondency over my own condition and the way I connect with other people: just enough to create an eye-rolling sense of despair.

If I could draw, I’d do my own strip and probably that would make me really happy. So of course I don’t draw. Not even as well as Max Cannon’s kid who did this week’s strip.

But I do fantasize, and this January I got to thinking about all the strangers whose paths I cross while wandering through Durham and Chapel Hill. Do they ever notice me, as I sometimes wonder about them?

Just reviewing the last few days, I could think of a dozen moments when I might have been noticed by people at the bank or at the grocer's, at a party or on the town. If they saw me, what were they thinking?

Below, my hypotheticals. For your amusement. Or for the amusement of your production staff.

If, for some reason, you feel like printing it...feel free. Just sign it "Lucas Merriman." Not my real name. But definitely my real fantasies.

The Indy editor wrote back and said she'd love to run them as a guest piece if I would supply my own name, but for whatever reason I declined.  These days I'd say "sure, run 'em with my byline!"  Then again, these days I wouldn't write anything so glum.  I'm damned happy about that.  Best as I recall, 2001-2002 really stunk.


ALRIGHT! Seven years ago I was very pleased with myself for formatting my Word document to look like the original Indy print ads.  Today I'm even more pleased to have converted that document into a readable, non-fuzzy .jpg.  It only took an hour to figure out, but that's what peaceful Friday nights are made for.

12:06 AM in Me | Permalink


This is too funny (everything from the fact that you wrote these clever semi-fiction ads and that you were then proud of yourself for your Word formatting skills). I used to love the Indy's missed connections. Why did they stop running them, do you know? I still read the ones they post on craigslist for the Raleigh area, even though I'm not looking for any missed connections. They're just too amusing to pass up.

Posted by: Ginny | Jan 17, 2009 7:49:11 AM

Ginny -- thanks for your comments!

I have to guess that the print edition Missed Connections died because they were piggybacking on the regular personal ads that got killed by the online dating services.

If I recall, the business model for the regular personal ads was that short ads were free (or else really cheap), but longer ads had a small fee. The voice mail service added yet another small fee. The Missed Connections ads had the same structure, but of course the Indy could expect far less revenue from them since the voice mail service would only generate revenue from one or two callers at most, and would likely generate zero revenue, given the long-shot nature of the ads. If anything, the Missed Connections ads were the entertainment that got readers to glance at the Personals section.

For a year or two, the Indy had a column called "Notes from the Single Life" which ran alongside the Personals ads. I did a few pieces for them in '97-'98 (if I remember the years correctly). I republished two here at the Archer Pelican:

"Bed", which has a "Missed Connections" story of its own: http://archerpelican.typepad.com/tap/2004/01/self_republishi.html

and "Toast", http://archerpelican.typepad.com/tap/2004/02/self_republishi.html which gets noticed a lot because Google images likes the .jpg.

Regarding the current Indy Missed Connections, there's only one right now, and it's only online. Regarding the Craiglist Missed Connections -- they're also entertaining, but not as clever as the old Indy ads. And the display format isn't as attractive (Craigslist shows headlines only). And you're less likely to read them while you're waiting in line for your coffee or bagel, new edition of the Indy in hand. But now that you've mentioned them, maybe I'll look again from time to time.

Time passes. Sigh.

Posted by: ArcherPelican | Jan 17, 2009 4:53:14 PM

Hysterical! Thanks for posting these.

Posted by: Steve | Jan 17, 2009 5:06:36 PM

Did I ever tell you about the series of ads I ran on the Independent's back page back in 1994 or so? One day I was grabbed by an insane impulse to run a "Thank You St. Jude" ad, even though (or maybe because) I am not Catholic. That first ad was "THANK YOU ST. JUDE for killing my cat. Next please work on Uncle Cletus. Love, Nelthilta."

I would up developing Nelthilta and her nutty family as a whole big-ass dramatis personae, with another "Thank You St. Jude" every other week for months. I never mentioned this to any of my friends because I wanted to see if somebody would randomly say, "Hey, this person named Nelthilta keeps running deranged St. Jude ads on the back of the Indy."

No one ever did. Eventually, I stopped, for a reason I never anticipated: one day I had to call the Independent's classified-ad staff about a minor billing problem, and the person I was speaking to said, "Oh, by the way, there's this person who won't stop calling us to ask us if Nelthilta and her uncle are okay."

Posted by: Brian Rice | Jan 18, 2009 1:49:20 PM

You are more optimistic than I. Yours are far more charming and romantic than the ads I recall. In fact, I believe there were only two ads that ever ran, just slightly modified week-after-week:

You had just come from working out and were so hot. And I was hot. And you looked at me. And I looked at you. And we should've hooked up. Call me!

You asked me if I needed help with my bags. You were so cute. I see you there all the time. Are you single? God, you're so cute!


I did once write a real personals Indy ad that led to a successful match, because the young woman's much-older lonely neighbor had read the ads obsessively and thought her neighbor should give me a shot.


I also less-successfully submitted a real "Missed Connections" once...it was a waitress whose name I knew and whom I'd see nearly every week...but I could not communicate via sane means. I never learn...

Posted by: Toastie | Jan 18, 2009 9:30:42 PM

->Brian: I don't recall noticing those ads, but I'm no less glad that you did them. Your patience in keeping a secret just to see what would happen is enviable. By the way, how *are* Nelthilta and her uncle?

->Toastie: Awesome analysis of the typical ads. But to be fair, have you spent time at those two Wake County grocery stores? People there are HAWT! Also: Those who blog-comment their history are not doomed to repeat it.

Posted by: ArcherPelican | Jan 20, 2009 11:02:30 PM

You can still find missed connections ads on Craigslist. I entertain myself with them now and then. There are also occasionally some very funny posts in the Strictly Platonic section by people looking for other people to get stoned with.

Posted by: Lisa B | Jan 21, 2009 3:21:01 PM

Um, This may be one of the best things I've ever read. I like the Thanksgiving one the most. Were you raised Catholic? or worse, Presbyterian, like me? People WAY under estimate the guilt capacity of Presbyterians.

Posted by: Molly | Jan 27, 2009 11:09:50 AM