On the line

Love is probably closer than you think.

Illustration: Emily Flake

You’ve probably heard about the recent subterranean love story (the New York Post called it “Subway Love at 1st Site”!) but in case you haven’t...Patrick Moberg, a 21-year-old computer programmer/illustrator, spotted a cute girl wearing a flower in her hair on the 5 train. Unable to work up the nerve to introduce himself, he lost her in the crowd at the Bowling Green stop and regretted it—so much so that he created a website, nygirlofmydreams.com, to track her down. The kicker? He found her—and they’re now dating. Awwww.

Except, oddly enough, that wasn’t the reaction of many New Yorkers. People chose to believe it wasn’t a happy ending, but rather a publicity stunt set up by a clever guerilla marketing firm or a ploy for fame by an attention-starved creative type.

It was neither. I know Patrick; he’s sweet and shy and yes, the entire story is absolutely genuine. And inspiring.

Granted, nobody has the time or energy to actually buy a URL and make a website, and yes, it’s easier to hide behind an adorable illustration, than to, you know, say something. But I give him snaps for making something happen. “I had no expectations,” says Patrick. “I just felt like this is what I had to do. If I hadn’t done it, I would have been haunted.”

So, for all of you who complain that there’s no romance in this city, start taking chances. We’re all so overly concerned with rejection that we miss out on opportunities. And if actually opening your mouth to say hi seems too intense, at least take off your sunglasses, turn off your iPod and start connecting. “I see so many girls I want to talk to,” Jim, 37, explains. “But girls in this city are scary with their dour expressions. Just smile and look us in the eye, and maybe we’ll be more inclined to approach.”

And we’ve all had that experience, when you’re walking down the street and you share a moment with a stranger. Even if it doesn’t become rom-com material, and even if you keep walking, it’s still a thrill, an ego-booster and a reminder that there are good-looking people filling out this city’s streets who just might think you’re good-looking too.

I’ve given my card to matre d’s to hand to cute guys in restaurants. No one’s called me...yet. But so what? Even if they thought I was a troll, or they happened to be married (they weren’t wearing rings, I promise!), they had to have been at least flattered by the effort. So at the very worst, it’s good karma. And I’ll keep doing it, because dating is a lot like photography. If you take 20 pictures you’ll like one or two—if you have 20 dates, you’ll probably end up with the same ratio. Not great odds, but if you take 20 chances and one works out, the other 19 don’t matter.

Love success is mostly attitude, anyway. The No. 1 problem with dating in New York is what I call a depressimistic mentality: cynicism and self-defeatism. And it’s sad because it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Patrick tells me that he received over 1,000 e-mails—mostly just from people thanking him. Why? “They were relieved,” he explains. “They said this gave them hope that there were still romantic guys out in the world.”

More than anything else, this is a true New York romance—far better than Serendipity. And the best part? It could happen to you!

E-mail her at julia@timeoutny.com.

See previous Dating with Julia Allison