An “I Saw You” is a fleeting attempt at romance facilitated by the Internet, one that could have easily been sparked by suggestive glances during a morning commute on the Red Line. The Reader has been publishing I Saw Yous since August of 2004 (before that they were actually called Missed Connections), and the flirtations, crushes, and stalker-ism have inspired a gallery exhibit, theater improv, probably a marriage or two, maybe a divorce, and countless violations of privacy and good taste. Successes do happen—I recently witnessed a close friend reconnect with her partner from a CPR class, for instance—but most connections remain missed. So we decided to choose some of our favorite I Saw Yous from last year and pay them their due respect with what we believe to be appropriate responses. We also handpicked several more I Saw Yous that are ripe for a response—your response; go here to chime in. —Kevin Warwick
One1eleven from Match
You traded a couple e-mails with me (“jennbarr”) on Match and then poof! you were gone. Was it an intentional blow-off or an accidental lost e-mail address?? When: Thursday, December 15, 2011. Where: online. You: Man. Me: Woman.
Our response: Intentional blow-off. Sorry to have to tell you this, but it is practically impossible to lose someone’s e-mail address after you’ve exchanged messages. (It’s best to assume that those you never hear back from have been hit by a bus.)
We were in the whitest room with the biggest windows. Everything was simple and plain and nothing was there. Everything was there. The floor, carpeted with papers and all sorts of dark colored drips and smeared hand- and footprints. Large papers dangling, stuck to the wall. We were both bare. My breasts exposed, covered in greasy black oil, you poked fun at my nipples, laughing. With command from your face, I could tell it was my hands you wanted to reach up. You approached with a sheet of paper, pressing it against my body, stamping it on. To Jonathan. When: Tuesday, March 22, 2011. Where: my dreams. You: Man. Me: Woman.
Our response: You know, it might not have been the best idea for you to do mushrooms before going to my parents’ house. Yes, their living room is white with big windows. The rest was all in your head—except for your breasts being exposed, of course. Where did you find used motor oil to smear on them, anyway? That “sheet of paper” was the tablecloth I wrapped around you for modesty’s sake. In case you’re wondering if you made a good impression, the answer is no.
I had my fair share and someone else’s share of drinks, and I was walking on Foster. I heard the pretty roar of you coming. I turned and threw up my thumb because everything was hilarious at this point of the night. You stopped, and I thought, “Wow! Really?” I asked where you were going and you said Hollywood and Western. We agreed on dropping me off on Western. I screamed the whole ride. My friend thinks this is a fake story and that is OK. When: Wednesday, April 27, 2011. Where: Foster and Damen. You: Man. Me: Woman.
Our response: I’m not this dude, but I do have a motorcycle with a pretty roar. Any girl that wanders the streets of Chicago wasted and is willing to flag down a ride in the middle of the night from some mysterious stranger on a motorcycle sounds like she’s got her head on straight, that’s for sure. Let’s get together and prove that friend of yours wrong.
Hey, Invite Me Over
Ryan, you once told me you read these in hopes that someone will send a note to you. Well, let’s remember I only attempted to break into your house. And I’m not wearing clothes that remind me of you every day anymore. I remember all those great times together. Why don’t you invite me over? I now know how to avoid embarrassment in front of your friends. When: Friday, August 5, 2011. Where: outside your door. You: Man. Me: Man.
Our response: Maybe I should have been clearer: I don’t read these hoping to hear from the guy who climbed up the tree outside my house and tried to get in my bedroom window. It doesn’t help that you wear sweatshirts that say “Ryan” in puff paint (happy to hear you’re not doing that anymore, by the way). I’m not going to invite you over, because after the marshmallow creme incident I just don’t believe that you have any idea how to avoid embarrassing yourself around my friends.
Brown Line train needs bar
We were standing next to each other on a crowded Brown Line car after a day in the salt mines about a week ago (may have been a Tuesday). I was standing while my friends were sitting. You had blue hair and a great sense of humor to go with a very nice smile. We joked about hoping there was a bar on board, but it would just be more frustrating since we wouldn’t be able to get to the bar, either. How about a real drink? When: Tuesday, January 11, 2011. Where: Brown Line train from Loop. You: Woman. Me: Man.
Our response: My hair’s actually Vampire Red now (thanks, Manic Panic), and I solved the problem of having no bar on the train—I just brown-bag my own bottle of Old Crow and get absolutely blasted while yakking it up with fellow commuters. For some reason, they always find me charming and hilarious. Eventually I wake up on the train floor or on a stop’s platform lying in a pool of my own vomit, but that’s just a side effect of the bourbon is all. So, when and where do you want to meet up?
Hunx and His Punx show
You were singing along to Shannon and the Clams and you were a real cutie. I wanted to dance with you during one of the slower numbers, but you were with some friends and that can be creepy for a stranger to do. So, instead of maybe getting punched in the face, posting about it online seems like the thing to do. You had an iPhone that you were using, so I think you’re net savvy. I was the dude up front singing along to the Clams as well . . . with glasses. Maybe next time, punker dance with me? When: Friday, April 29, 2011. Where: Empty Bottle. You: Woman. Me: Man.
Our response: Well, is it a creepy thing for a stranger to take multiple photos with her iPhone of the dude with glasses up front singing to Shannon and the Clams? And is it creepy for that stranger to make one of those photos her computer’s desktop image and photoshop herself dancing alongside the man of her dreams? Finally, is it creepy for that stranger to have already picked out the names of the couple’s future children and pets? Baby, I’ll punker dance with you any day of the week.
2/19 Motorhead beer line
Can’t believe I’m doing this but we met in the line for beer at the Motorhead show on 2/19 at the Congress Theater. You are a tall bald man wearing glasses; I told you you were cute then on your way out the door you told me I was sexy. I regret not asking for your contact info. I believe you and your buddy were headed to Revolution Brewing after the show. Hey, maybe we can grab a beer in a civilized establishment sometime. When: Saturday, February 19, 2011. Where: Motorhead concert. You: Man. Me: Woman.
Our response: It’s weird, people are always telling me I look like a tall, bald Lemmy with glasses, so I was a little confused when you called me “cute.” I think you meant to say “grizzled and reckless in a dangerous yet lovable outlaw kind of way.” That would’ve been spot-on. Anyway, after purchasing my MGD 64, I was roped into a rowdy bout of fist-pumping during “Ace of Spades” and lost track of you. I remember reconnecting on the way out the door and calling you “sexy.” But to be honest, I would’ve called my grandma sexy at that point—I had just seen fucking Motorhead, for shit’s sake.
Man in thong at Pitchfork
Hey you! Yes, I am talking to you, Mr. Thong. I saw you running to and fro at the Pitchfork Music Festival on Saturday and I am trying very hard to erase the memory of your butt floss from my mind. Please consider upgrading to a full-back Speedo or at least a Brazilian-backed brief if you are so inclined to show off your body in public. PS. It wasn’t even that hot outside on Saturday. When: Saturday, July 16, 2011. Where: Pitchfork Music Festival. You: Man. Me: Woman.
Our response: Dear Madam:
I may not have sported a flossless butt
And some viewers—honestly!—thought it smut
At Pitchfork, I wanted a body more tan
And thought little of showing off my can
So sorry, my dear—will you let it pass?
I feel bad about my hairy, hairy ass.
Missed you again: Bally’s
Didn’t see you today either (frown face)! I receieved an e-mail from “Mr. I Don’t Know You” (that I quickly deleted) but I wanted to see you! Tomorrow, there’s always hope for tomorrow (smiley face). When: Thursday, May 12, 2011. Where: Bally’s on Washington. You: Man. Me: Woman.