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Monday, May 20, 2024
The Observer

Missed connections

Forget a movie. For me, South Dining Hall at 6 p.m. counts plenty as dinner and a show. I’ve always been a guilty people watcher, an admitted eavesdropper. Yes, books and TV shows are fun, but there’s something absolutely joyous about appreciating the characters of life running around you. There’s something wonderful about meeting the kind of person Hollywood writers could never dream up.

Alas, too often, these one-of-a-kind characters are also one-of-a-meeting. We chat once, and I never see them again. As apreviously establishedquestion-asking girl and a fanatic friend-seeker, I simply cannot accept this.

Luckily for me, and you (!), Viewpoint’s premiere podcast The Sixth Seat — now streaming on Spotify — has an entire segment dedicated to missed connections, the passing interactions that are simply too delightful to be ignored. The funny kid you talked to for two hours while in line for Keenan Revue but never saw again. The cool classmate in your math class who emailed you the textbook without your even asking. Each week, we’ll be reading out a few of our favorite submissions, setting the wheels in motion for a rekindling of kindred spirits.

To kick off a season of serendipitous reunions, here are a few of my favorite personal missed connections and a couple from my friends, too. Here’s hoping the right people are reading.

JUICE JOE

Hesburgh Library. Sept. 10, 2018. 2:37 a.m.

This is an excerpt from an email I sent my mom freshman year while asking for my family’s Amazon login info so I could order a textbook:

“I am in the library. It's weird here at night. I just went to the bathroom and passed a shirtless man studying wearing headphones and drinking a quart of orange juice.”

I walked past you three times. The first passing was a coincidence. The second was to confirm I wasn’t hallucinating. The third was a reconnaissance mission, attempting a picture of the bare-chested book aficionado for proof. The mission failed.

Why were you shirtless? Why did you have so much juice? Where did you find a glass jug? Did you arrive shirtless, or just feel impassioned by the heat of studying and rip it off? I put my hair in a bun when I’m stressed. Is this your version the same thing?

No one believed me when I told them about you, Juice Joe. If you’re out there, I’m not passing judgement. I just want proof that I’m not insane. I just want answers.

THE TAP-DANCING OLD MAN

Paul Helquist’s organic chemistry class. Fall semester, 2019. 8:20 MWF.

You carried an absurdly large cup with you to class every day that read, “I’m just a very good tap dancer who drinks coffee like an old man.” The “just” in that description feels rather oxymoronic.

My friend and I want to know what this cup means. We tried Googling the phrase but were unable to find any hits about caffeine-addicted tap dancing tropes. Did you special order the cup? We can’t imagine there is a large enough market for wholesale distribution. We wanted to ask you about the cup, but you always sped out of the classroom too quickly. If you’re reading this, just know speculating about your life was the silver lining to our helix-shaped 8 a.m. hell.

ICE CREAM COMPETITORS

LaFortune Basement. Feb. 10, 2019. 1:25 a.m.

You two were walking out of Taco Bell when you saw me and my now-roommate sitting with an empty pint of ice cream and demanded to know who ate it. When we said we did, you guys didn’t believe us and challenged us to an ice-cream eating competition then and there.

The strangers we accosted and forced to judge the winner chose you two as victor, but I still believe we won. Not to mention that was our second pint of the night…

After the competition was over, we hung out for a few hours, tried to guess each other’s ethnic backgrounds, played cards and people-watched partygoers crossing God Quad. We never saw each other again.

The scratches in my mouth from shoveling frozen chocolate covered pretzels down my throat have healed, but the pain of the loss has not. We challenge you to a rematch.

The following are missed connections I’ve collected from friends.

OMELET ACQUAINTANCE — anonymous

North Dining Hall. Fall 2018. 10:30ish.

“First semester last year I skipped Physics to go to the dining hall. For some reason, I wanted to make an omelet even though I had never done it before. I asked the guy behind me, and he coached me through the whole thing. I eventually learned he was from where I used to live and went to the high school all my friends did. He lived in Siegfried and I live in Mod Quad so I thought I’d see him again, but I never did. You were so nice. I want to find you, omelet boy.”

TACO TALKER — anonymous

Econ Lecture. Fall Semester 2019. Noon-ish.

“During the first few weeks of college, I sat next to the same boy a couple of times in a huge Econ lecture, that always made me really nervous to attend otherwise. We hit it off and had a great conversation about our similar backgrounds and reasons for coming to ND. One day, I was talking to him about home, which is San Diego, and he knew my favorite taco shop by name from a family vacation. I cried a little about that: homesickness came with major taco withdrawals. I never really saw him after that class, and I’ve always felt that I’ve missed out on a good friend.”

If you know any of these people, or better yet, if you are any of these people, send me an email at jconley4@nd.edu. And tune into The Sixth Seat on Spotify every Sunday for a new episode and a new slew of missed connections! 

To send in your own missed connections, go to https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfHZ60vmTGEcwbk8Bdr8VBxwj2ZuhrbIS5L9Uad71kziFEMew/viewform  

Julianna Conley loves cereal, her home state of California and the em dash. A sophomore in Pasquerilla East, if Julianna can’t be found picnicking on North Quad, she can be reached for comment at jconley4@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.