Modern Love, the renowned NYT column, is now a podcast. And Rosemary Counter’s run-in with a craigslist ‘Missed Connection’ in Toronto was chosen as one of its first stories. You can read the original story here. We chatted with Rosemary about Modern Love, craigslist creepers, and navigating the (sometimes) sordid dating scene in Toronto.
SDTC: What was your reaction when you learned that your story would be featured in the Modern Love podcast?
RC: The editor Daniel Jones reached out last fall to say the podcast was in the works and that they’d chosen my essay among the first batch to try out. I was thrilled to hear the essay was resonating with people but I was nervous, as always, for the taping. Plus it was all top secret, which isn’t my strong suit.
Have you been interviewed for the podcast yet?
Yup, phew, that part’s done! I taped after hours at the CBC in a little room all by myself. I don’t even remember what I said.
What made you decide to submit your craigslist story to Modern Love?
It had been an old story I’d been telling at dinner parties long before I properly wrote it down and submitted it to Modern Love. I pitch lots of things all over the place, so I didn’t need any extra confidence but also didn’t expect a response. I was so thrilled and grateful to hear back with good news.
Was that the craziest thing that’s happened to you while dating?
This was among the craziest, though I’m sure I’ve blocked lots more out too! Maybe the craziest thing was meeting my husband and finally getting it right? It’s scary to think about all the things that had to line up just to cross paths, let alone fall in love. For someone who doesn’t believe in fate, I think about it a lot!
What was it exactly that tipped your friend Kate off?
To this day Kate has a no-bullshit radar that never fails. She’s saved the day a few times in this lifetime. But I don’t think the charade had more than a few more days left in it; with his family home, he probably wouldn’t be around full-time like before, and I like to think I’d have smartened up eventually. Soon would be even better.
Your story reminded me of a Stephen King short story called I Know What You Need; in it, a nebbish man seduces a college girl by always anticipating what she wants at any given moment. She falls in love with him, and then her friend tips her off to the fact that he may be too good to be true. It’s totally creepy. Do you feel creeped out by your craigslist guy? Or sorry for him?
Stephen King is great and I’ll be reading this story tonight! Initially I felt totally creeped out, and stupid and naive and preyed upon, but over the years the anger turned to empathy. He must have been in a very unhappy marriage and trying to escape just for a second. I’m sorry this happened, for both of us, and if he’s seen his story in The Times, I’m sure that sucks too. I like to think we’re even now, and I hope we can forgive each other.
What did you learn from the experience?
You know that meme with the dog at the keyboard that says, “No one knows you’re a dog on the Internet”? For a long time I assumed everyone was a dog. I didn’t ever seriously online date anyone ever again. I Google everybody without shame or restraint.
Do you still skim the craigslist personals?
Ha! No. I lurk real estate instead. It can break your heart too, you know.
Rosemary Counter is a Toronto-based writer and reviewer (and sometimes-editor). Her work has appeared in everything from Maclean’s to Elle, Canadian Living to Reader’s Digest, Style at Home to The New Yorker.
Listen to Rosemary’s story on new Modern Love podcast now.