I was online today, poking around for some temp work (okay, okay -- you caught me. I was catching up on the commentary about the Katie/Meredith switch over at The Today Show even though I don't really care either way. As long as they don't have Airhead Alexis Glick on, I'm pretty much satisfied.), and ended up stumbling across a foreboding warning to Beware of Cyber Stalkers.
The article warns about pedophilic cyberstalkers using networks like MySpace and Friendster to gain access to children's information. And -- undoubtedly -- parents need to be educated about this new and disturbing threat facing our children.
But -- as for the rest of you: Beware of me.
For -- you see -- I am a certified Google Stalker.
Give me a name, a general age, and one other piece of identifying information, and I can track virtually anyone down. It's a skill that comes in handy, particularly on groggy Sunday mornings. (In fact, I hold office hours on Sunday from noon to 2pm. No appointment necessary.)
This is pretty much how the conversation will go: "Well, his name is Brad," one of my girlfriends will say. "And he does....something with money. Umm... he's an investment banker? Yeah, yeah. That's it."
And a couple clicks here, a couple searches using the always-necessary asterik (an integral element in the cyber-stalking process) and -- voila -- I've found your man.
I'm always shocked that they can't do it themselves.
But my gift (and -- have no fear -- I generally use my powers for good and not for evil) is currently failing me.
There's someone I want to find. A nameless stranger. And I can't for the life of me do it.
He rides my subway in the morning. And he is the most beautiful man I've ever seen in my life.
It was love at first sight. When he dashed down the steps at West 4th and darted through the closing subway door just in time, I was instantly smitten. He looked so familiar; I was convinced I knew him.
That first time I saw him, I assumed that I knew him from somewhere. But -- from where? From college? From a hazy night in a dark bar? Or was he a New-York transplant from my semi-small Midwest town? (And wouldn't that be the most wonderful story to tell our grandchildren? 'Oh, we grew up just across the cornfield from each other,' we'd tell them as we sat by a crackling fireplace, hand in hand, 'but it wasn't until we both moved to this big crazy city that we met. And then we fell in love.")
The second time I saw him, a week later, I still hadn't been able to place him, though his visage had been burned into my memory: his twinkling, jet-black eyes and the gentlest crease around the corners of his mouth that proved this was a man who smiled a great deal. So my romantic fool of a self then assumed we hadn't actually met before, but that we were in fact meant to be together. Surely the tangible hint of familiarity was just fate indentifying our souls to each other through the din of the screeching subway.
My romantic notions were quickly swept away as soon as I laid eyes on him for a third time. This was definitely a man I knew, but not from having met him in person. He was some gradation of "famous." He was not-famous enough to have to ride the subway, but famous enough for me to know who he was, though I still couldn't tell why. Someone on the par of a New York One reporter. Not even an anchor; just a reporter who had done a few stories and whose image was stored way back there in my subconscious along with other things I know I know, but access rarely.
The Quadratic Equation. The future-perfect tense in Latin. Avogadro's number.
My dream man.
I first spied him in December, and in the ensuing months, rode the subway with him only once or twice a week; a few times, a full seven days would fly by without a shared car. Our relationship progressed from the tiniest head nods to small smiles, but still no words were exchanged. I longed for someone to spill coffee on him so I could lend him a napkin. I hoped for him to ask for my newspaper.
I thought of things to say. Witty jokes. Clever openers. But each time I'd go to open my mouth, I'd freeze.
I haven't thought about this until now but tonight it hit me: I'm not taking that subway any more. My subway stranger is down there, deep under the streets of Manhattan, riding without me. And I don't know how to find him. Is it crazy to take to riding the subway in the morning at just the same time, hoping against hope that he'll walk back into my car?
I can't find him, as my internet sluething skills fail me without access to his vital stats.
I know how graceful his hands are; I know how warm his eyes are; I know that his glasses slip ever-so-slightly down his nose as he bends to read; I know he loosens his scarf once inside from the cold. I know him.
But I don't know his name.
And I know he might quite possibly be lost forever.
Bought one lottery ticket.