HOPELESS romantics will love this story.
Fri, Nov 23, 2007
The Straits Times
Once upon a time – actually, just earlier this month – in a land far, far away known as New York City, a web designer by the name of Patrick Moberg was on a crowded subway train when he locked eyes with the girl of his dreams.
It was love at first sight.
But before he could work up the nerve to approach her, the train stopped and disgorged its passengers. He lost sight of her in the crush of commuters and thought he would never see her again.
For most of us, that would be the end of the story of The Handsome Stranger I Saw On The MRT.
Sure, we’d like to kid ourselves and think: ‘Drats, I should have said hi or something’, even though we know deep within our hearts that we are too chicken to do so, especially not with a carriage full of kaypohs watching.
But the hero of this urban romance did not give up or despair. He used his web design savvy and harnessed technology to set up a website, www.nygirlofmydreams.com, to track her down.
With whimsical little sketches, he drew her with fancy braided hair, rosy cheeks, blue gym shorts and tights, and a flower tucked behind her left ear, and himself as an awkward lanky dude in a hoodie and the ubiquitious iPod plugged in his ears.
To make himself appear a little less like a stalker, he described himself as tall, skinny and ‘not insane’ and left his contact details.
His little project was featured on popular Manhattan websites, such as the Gothamist and Gawker, and a number of blogs, which helped widen the search.
Within three days, a friend of the rosy-cheeked, flower-wearing girl had identified her as Camille Hayton, an Australian, and contacted the subway Romeo.
It must have been a slow news day or perhaps people were tired of Iraq, as the American media picked up the story and ran with it. News agency Reuters had a piece on it and the happy couple was even interviewed on Good Morning America last week.
Apparently, they have since gone on a date and ‘totally clicked’, even though there were newshounds clicking cameras at them the whole time.
The hopeless romantic in me – residing in the deepest darkest recesses of my cold cold heart – wants desperately to believe in love at first sight, happily ever after and other modern fairy tales.
But then I hear a teeny rational voice inside my head saying, ‘Love at first sight happens only to attractive people’.
Take, for instance, my roommate from my university days, a charmingly petite girl with huge animated eyes like a manga character.
She claims it was love at first sight, more than 13 years ago, when she saw the guy who would become her first boyfriend and eventually her husband.
I think it didn’t hurt that he had just finished his evening run and was topless, sweaty and hot – in every sense of the word.
That they have made it thus far is more a testament to their commitment to making their relationship work over the years, rather than a chemical reaction which took place when they met.
Another pair of lovers I know of met while walking down Orchard Road in opposite directions.
In true cinematic fashion, their paths crossed, they gave each other the once-over, and then walked right past each other.
Exactly three seconds later, they both turned back and their eyes locked.
It was love at second sight – or so they liked to tell people. That is, until they broke up a year later. He had hooked up with someone younger and prettier.
I find it easier to believe in lust at first sight, and so do researchers at the Face Research Laboratory at the University of Aberdeen in Britain.
According to latest findings from the lab, the first lovers’ gaze is all about sex and ego. Romance has very little to do with it.
All that matters is whether someone displays social cues – such as direct eye contact or a friendly smile – that indicate they’re attracted to you.
Of course, the incident on the love train is so intriguing because it raises more questions than just, ‘was it a booty call?’
It’s about the reach of technology and its influence on the way we communicate, about the anonymity of urban living despite being in a city of millions, about people’s need to believe in fairy tales.
The train-riding protagonist said in an interview last week that his search for the girl of his dreams had stolen hearts around the world because people ‘really feel how genuine it is’.
He says: ‘It just gives them hope. For anybody who has seen someone on the subway and didn’t know if it would work out, it’s possible you can find someone in such a big city.’
All you need to do is set up a website.