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How to get a Missed Connection

Five writers hit the town wearing T-shirts that plead for a Missed Connection. The results: embarrassment, pity, rejection…and one date.

Photograph: Nicole Radja

After getting over the fear factor—namely, that I’d be judged a narcissist—I parked it at two Wicker Park coffee shops. I positioned myself in a visible seat, walked repeatedly to the bathroom and made eye contact with as many men as possible. In return: no man love, just a few double takes and some chuckles from girls. Taking the bull by the horns, I headed to neighborhood dive Happy Village. Removing my coat to reveal my T-shirt, I felt uncomfortably conspicuous, but no one even took note. I scanned Missed Connections the next day: As I suspected, zero results. —Jessica Herman

I’m shy about meeting guys, and I figured this T-shirt stunt would force the issue. It mostly made me feel very, very visible. At a GayCo sketch show, the guy next to me read my shirt out loud to his wife—“Hey, honey, get this!” Embarrassed but undaunted, I tried the T-shirt at the cruisey Andersonville Starbucks. A hit! Within 12 hours, I had a Missed-Connection message. My third try, at gay bar Crew, proved that flirting can’t be T-shirt–based when everyone is watching Illini basketball. As for Starbucks guy: Thanks for the compliment. Even if you never reply to my e-mail, you made my day. —Hank Sartin

After sporting my shirt at Metropolis Coffee, on the Red Line at rush hour and to dinner at Indie Café, I connected with nothing more than a couple of giggles and pity smiles. While people definitely noticed the shirt—one dude on the El even went so far as to ask, “Are you serious with that thing?”—nobody took it to the next level. The lesson here is that the only thing sadder than wearing a WRITE ME A MISSED CONNECTION shirt is desperately checking online for responses that aren’t there. —Christina Couch

Of the two Missed Connections I got after wearing the shirt at my birthday celebration at Four Moon Tavern in Roscoe Village, one looked suspiciously fake—I doubt anyone writing a legitimate post would know that I’m a big fan of Steven Soderbergh’s Che. (A friend later copped to authorship.) But another girl placed an ad saying I was “incredibly cute.” I’m planning to grab coffee with her as of this writing, and the shirt saved me from having to make the first move. —Ben Kenigsberg

In a previous life as a bartender, I got a lot of Missed Connection ads directed my way. As I write this, I’m looking at passive-aggressive postings from guys e-flirting with bartenders at Big Jones, Lincoln Station, Ping Pong, even the Symphony Center—and that’s just on the first page. I figured hitting Boystown in a shirt that actually asked for them would yield big returns. Instead: nada. Did it seem desperate or maybe too jokey? Or maybe my former customers only liked me for my cocktails. —Kris Vire

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