Stranger Than Fiction: What Happened After the Bookstore – New York Times

Ms. Fischer and Mr. MacLaughlin caught each other’s eye browsing the fiction stacks, but said nothing. They moved slowly around each other for almost an hour without saying a word.

“I saw this very cute girl and was browsing around her, and thought, she seems to be browsing around me,” Mr. MacLaughlin said. “We both spent way too long doing that. Eventually I thought, this is ridiculous, I know I’m not going to say anything, I’ll just go. I’ll buy a book of Anne Carson poetry and hopefully impress her on the way out.”

Ms. Fischer was interested in “continuing to check this guy out,” she said, “but I wasn’t sure that I was going to do anything about it. I was not thinking through a plan of action, I was just sort of bumbling along on instinct.”

As Mr. MacLaughlin was paying for his book, Ms. Fischer slipped outside to wait for him. They made eye contact when he walked out of the store and left it at a passing look. She walked a quarter block behind Mr. MacLaughlin until they reached their shared destination of the L train back to Brooklyn. A few minutes later, they were face to face in the same subway car.

A group of tourists blocked their view as they tried to keep their eye banter going. The train approached the Lorimer Street stop, and Ms. Fischer got up to go. “She looked at me once through the door, and then turned around and looked at me through the window,” Mr. MacLaughlin said. “I thought wow, that’s a lot of eye contact.”

He went home and posted on Twitter about the exchange. That’s when his former teacher, the novelist Ed Park, saw the tweet and encouraged Mr. MacLaughlin to post in the missed connections section on Craigslist. The post read:

Girl with a Granta bag, m4w (East Village)

Yesterday at almost ten we were in the bookstore, each carrying a bag from a literary magazine. Then we rode the L train together. We made a lot of eye contact, which was nice. Craigslist remains weird; who are you?

Ms. Fischer felt the exchange was “worth investigating,” she said, and found Mr. MacLaughlin’s posting the next night. “It was an extended and weird enough encounter that it felt like a thing,” Ms. Fischer said. “I remember being like, aah, yes, of course, here it is. I was not surprised.”

So she responded: “Hi! I’m Molly. Who are you?”

She later wrote about it in a story in The Cut.

“I went to an all-girls school for seven years, so often through college and my pre-Sam dating life I felt like I had no skills, and this was a situation when having no skills paid off,” Ms. Fischer said. “I behaved as strangely and incompetently as possible and it really worked out well.”

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