Love, the L Train, and What I Wore: A Late Night Rome-ance

Life as a 20-something singleton in New York City is often boorish but never, ever boring.
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Nora Crotty
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Life as a 20-something singleton in New York City is often boorish but never, ever boring.
Illustration: Nora Crotty

Illustration: Nora Crotty

Ever since we hired Nora as an intern (and then made her a permanent fixture here), the new-New Yorker has regaled us with her sometimes sad, sometimes unbelievable, but always hilarious "only in New York Williamsburg" dating stories. We figured you should get to hear them, too. So every other week we've asked her to share her trials and tribulations as a single 20-something trying to bag that elusive not-too-hipstery non-asshole--and coordinate the perfect outfit to go with. Taking some inspiration from that other Nora, the legendary Ms. Ephron, we present, "Love, the L Train, and What I Wore."

Life as a 20-something singleton in New York City is often boorish but never, ever boring.

Wait, I take that back. Because in between the spontaneous bar makeouts and gratuitous mixed drinks from strangers (less creepy than it sounds!) that monogamy simply cannot afford you, I've definitely spent my fair share of nights clad in a full-length flannel nightgown streaming nature documentaries and scraping out the last remnants of an Edy's Double Fudge Brownie quart I'd purchased just days prior. On one particular evening recently, however, I was most certainly not home wearing said nightgown (though I wouldn't have objected to some Edy's). Instead, I was sporting what I've come to consider my 'New York semi-sophisticate' look, meaning it's only half flattering, involves a lot of black, and is finished off with matte red lipstick.

See, when I moved here two years ago from the Boston 'burbs, my fabulous first roommate told me my wardrobe wasn't “New York” enough and then called the NYPD on me for sexual harassment (aka conversing with her in a bath towel). [Ed. note: True story.] Needless to say, I took her constructive criticism to heart and from that moment forward made a conscious decision to dress less like a six year old on a yacht (another compliment I've received over the years) and more like I belonged in Williamsburg (i.e. like Alexa Chung). My success thus far has been questionable.

Anyway, where was I? After a fruitless night of unwittingly working the NYU undergrad bar circuit (which, by the way, I'd highly recommend doing if you're in the mood to feel like a decrepit old hag on a Friday night), my roommate and I chose to throw in the husband-hunting towel and head on home.

There we were, waiting for the L train at 3rd Avenue. Seventeen minutes passed. The train arrived. The doors opened. We got on. The doors closed. The doors opened again. The doors closed again half-way. The doors opened and closed again (are you kidding me? Get on the f@#%ing train!!). And there he was: The modern-day Brooklyn version of my Seth Cohen high school dream boy--the one I once held hands with watching Sister Act 2 in his parents' basement-—plaid shirt, skinny jeans, sandy hair, eyelashes made for butterfly kisses (if anyone over the age of four even does that).

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He was watching a video on his cracked iPhone screen of an old man in a suit talking about something, as one does at 4:10am on a Saturday. Naturally I was intrigued and had consumed just enough PBR to outwardly question his activities.

“You're going to laugh at me,” he said, “but it's a lecture on the Roman Empire.” He went on to tell me about ancient Rome, Mediterranean domination, Augustus, Constantinople. I didn't laugh. I fell in love.

He had spent his night eating doughnuts and now he was spending his ride home with me. He said I wasn't the first person to tell him he was gifted in the eyelash department and that he wasn't sure what their purpose was; “I think it has something to do with dust,” I said--and with those poignant last words, we arrived at my destination.

“This is: Lorimer... Street.” Ugh! I scrambled. “I'm Nora,” I said (doors opening). “I'm Daniel.” We shook hands (very adult). I fished in my bag for my business card and handed it to him (again, very adult). “Make him get off with us!” my quick-thinking-but-not-quite-quick-thinking-enough roommate shouted as she exited the train. “Um, yeah!” I said, “get off?” “Dude, get off the train,” some random guy urged my Roman scholar. But he didn't get off. And I almost didn't either; the doors shut on me before reopening and closing again. Yes, I was that person.

Later that morning I awoke to no missed calls from unknown numbers, no text message trivia on the reign of Julius Caesar.

But I resisted defeat.

Instead, I took matters into my own hands and did the only logical thing: I filed a Craigslist missed connection. Having once been the subject of two separate missed connection posts in one day (a proud moment for anyone and as good a reason as any to wear more yellow), I know these things actually have the potential to instigate serendipity.

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My success was imminent! A modern day meet-cute if ever there were one.

Exactly one week later I received an email from an address I didn't recognize. I went into near convulsions when I read the subject: Roman Empire on the L Train. OMG. This was it! My lost-and-found-glass-slipper moment. The story Daniel and I would tell our two adorable bilingual (Italian) children while we gave them butterfly kisses at bedtime after reading a non-violent kids' picture book about the Roman/British invasion.

I opened the email and held my breath.

I also am into the Roman Empire. Can we discuss it?

-Ant

So much for my L train Rome-ance...