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Missed connections fuel illustrator's imagination

"Billowy Red Scarf Girl," "Hipster Chick Who Passed Gas," "Looking for the Hot Girl in the Pink Dress," and "Seeking Girl Who Bit Me TWICE".
/ Source: Reuters

"Billowy Red Scarf Girl," "Hipster Chick Who Passed Gas," "Looking for the Hot Girl in the Pink Dress," and "Seeking Girl Who Bit Me TWICE".

These are some of the headlines taken from websites for people who've been smitten by chance encounters but who failed to pluck up the nerve to ask for a second meeting at the time.

Long the subject of movies, books and miscellaneous columns of newspapers, the Internet has further empowered those regretting they didn't take action initially, to seek a second chance.

For Brooklyn, New York-based illustrator Sophie Blackall, 40, the adverts provide the fodder and inspiration for her book "Missed Connections: Love, Lost & Found."

"Moments of intimacy with strangers are minor detours we rarely explore, but those moments make us feel alive, and human, and part of something greater than ourselves," said Blackall. "They connect us to each other."

The illustrations are Blackall's interpretations of the adverts she read after her own one-sided missed-connection on a New York subway train in March, 2009.

On exiting the carriage, one man mouthed "missed connections" back to Blackall who then went home and checked the Internet.

"Missed connections take place on street corners and elevators, in emergency rooms and dog runs, in line at the grocery store and at Laundromats," said Blackall. "Basically everywhere human beings collide, but especially in places where we are forced to stay still a while. Waiting rooms and airport lounges and every form of public transport."

Her Chinese ink and watercolor paintings take a detail from what are quintessentially quirky adverts from those not bold or spontaneous enough to initiate an introduction and highlight the pathos, romance and humor she finds.

Blackall is an award-winning Australian illustrator whose credits include more than 20 children's books. She has resided with her family in Brooklyn since 2000.

She said the adverts which fuel her illustrations seem most popular with men and women aged between 20 and 35, with men outnumbering women seven to three.

And they are not just for missed love. Many messages are just thanking a stranger for a kindness.

"I love those because I imagine everyone else reading them feels encouraged by these little examples of humanity and generosity and tenderness," she explained.

Of her own missed connection that sparked the illustrations and book, Blackall said it never occurred to her to look specifically for his post, rather she was seduced by the idea of missed connections and the untold stories they held.

"Despite being attached, it is a delightful thing to be the recipient of a compliment or a second glance or a flirtatious smile from a stranger," she said.

"It also reminds the person you love, 'I have the possibility of other choices, but I choose you. Every day, I choose you."' (Reporting by Nick Olivari; editing by Patricia Reaney)