by Just An American | October 5, 2015 11:39 am
Many people would lament over remembering ‘the one that got away’, but in the case of one Boston man who told his story in a Craigslist ad, it truly was better to have loved and lost.
The ad, posted anonymously on Craigslist in the Missed Connections section, tells the story of how one man was convinced not to take his own life after a chance meeting with a young woman on a rainy December night in 1972.
It’s unknown whether the story is actually true or simply a piece of creative fiction made to look real, but either way, the tale is incredibly moving and has swiftly been shared all over the web.
‘I met you in the rain on the last day of 1972, the same day I resolved to kill myself,’ states the author in the first line of the ad, which was posted online last month.
The tale: An anonymous ad posted on the Missed Connections section of Craigslist tells the story of a man who was dissuaded from taking his own life in 1972 after a chance encounter with a woman in a ball gown
Truth or fiction: It’s unclear whether the story is real or a creative work of fiction, but one reader pointed out that the weather described in the story was true for that day in history
The man goes on to describe how, as a pilot in the US Army, he had dropped forty-eight bombs over Hanoi just the week before.
Presumably, the author was a part of Operation Linebacker II, a concentrated air offensive on Vietnam, which was initiated by Richard Nixon on December 18, 1972.
‘How many homes I destroyed, how many lives I ended, I’ll never know,’ he writes. ‘But in the eyes of my superiors,
I had served my country honorably, and I was thusly discharged with such distinction.’
With guilt eating away at him, the author found himself on New Year’s Eve 1972, having drank an entire fifth of Tennessee rye in his Boston studio apartment with a Smith & Wesson revolver in the closet, and making plans to take a walk and then return to the gun and ‘give myself the discharge I deserved’.
Winding his way around Boston, his somber mood was compounded by a deluge of rain, from which he decidedly sought no shelter.
‘I suppose I thought, or rather hoped, that it might wash away the patina of guilt that had coagulated around my heart. It didn’t, of course, so I started back to the apartment,’ he writes.
‘And then I saw you.’
The person in question was a young woman in a teal ball gown, soaked by the rain and taking shelter at the Old State House. ‘I’d never seen anything so beautiful,’ says the author.
After realizing that the girl had just been crying, the man asked if she was alright and they struck up a conversation, which they continued at the Neisner’s five and dime nearby.
‘We sat at the counter of that five and dime and talked like old friends. We laughed as easily as we lamented, and you confessed over pecan pie that you were engaged to a man you didn’t love, a banker from some line of Boston nobility,’ he remembers. ‘A Cabot, or maybe a Chaffee. Either way, his parents were hosting a soirée to ring in the New Year, hence the dress.’
The place: The pair apparently chatted at the counter in the Neisner’s store in Boston (pictured at its grand opening sometime between 1917 and 1934)
Although they spoke for over an hour, the man never revealed his mission to Vietnam, but admits that he ‘shared more of myself than I could have imagined possible at that time’.
Eventually, the man left the girl alone to go to the bathroom, where he wrestled with the promise he’d made to himself to return home and end his life. He thought about kissing her and telling her the rest of his sad story.
‘I decided, ultimately, that I was unworthy of the resuscitation this stranger in the teal ball gown had given me, and to turn my back on such sweet serendipity would be the real disgrace,’ he explains.
But as he returned to the counter, the woman was gone. ‘No phone number. No note. Nothing,’ he writes, adding that he was ‘devastated’ by her disappearance.
Although he went back to the store every day for a year, he never saw the woman again. But in a surprising turn of events, the man claims that the mystery woman’s abandonment of him ‘seemed to swallow my self-loathing, and the prospect of suicide was suddenly less appealing than the prospect of discovering what had happened in that restaurant.’
The man finishes the story by explaining how he came to be writing the ad, saying he had shared the story for the first time to a friend recently, whose daughter recommended posting on the Missed Connections section of Craigslist, even though he believes: ‘after a million what-ifs and a lifetime of lost sleep, that our connection wasn’t missed at all.’
He reveals that he had a wife and a son – both of whom have since died – in the 42 years since and that he is sometimes still tortured by the memory of the act he carried out as a military man but, he explains: ‘a few dozen times a year, I’ll receive a gift. The sky will glower, and the clouds will hide the sun, and the rain will begin to fall.
‘And I’ll remember.’
Readers of the touching story are thus far skeptical of the truth of the tale but, as one Universal Hub reader pointed out, the weather on December 31, 1972, was indeed exceedingly rainy.
If the story is true, it is a pretty extraordinary story! ….and maybe a good thing he does not know what became of the woman. If she wanted to disappear, there is probably a reason.
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