For most people, simply having a copy of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest—once a cult doorstop of a novel, now a point of honor/contention among readers—on the bookshelf or coffee table is enough to impress. I’ve got two worn copies, just to be on the safe side. That way, when someone asks if I’ve actually read it, trying to get one over on me, I can say: “Yeah, but forever ago. Why, did you just finish?”
Seriously, though, I feel at this juncture that I’ve exhausted the set of strained academic conversations I could possibly have about Infinite Jest at a party where I’d rather be talking to someone attractive (the people who bring up Infinite Jest at parties, as a rule, are not). Which is why if I walked into a room and saw someone had tacked up this widely Internet-praised map of character relations, I’d turn tail and run screaming into the night.
Not least because the owner would have to explain to you in great detail what the solid lines meant versus the dotted, and why the Wraith doesn’t appear—the artist makes the appalling claim that the Wraith doesn’t speak and “is lame." No, sir, you are lame, and look, I’ve already gotten in an argument about Infinite Jest I never wanted to have. Oh fine, buy this poster if you really must. Just know that it’ll look something like decorating your wall with CliffNotes.
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If the romantic comedies of yesteryear and songs of James Blunt have taught us anything, it’s that our soulmate could be walking down the street or sitting across from us at the Starbucks across from our Starbucks, and every moment is an opportunity to fall in love. For those who wish to pursue these chance encounters on a hunch or out of some quiet desperation, there are Craigslist Missed Connections. Dorothy Gambrell at Psychology Today has put together an infographic that’s been circulating this week, showing, based on a sample size of the 100 most recent "Missed Connections" by state, where they are most likely to occur. Those around the age of 20 hang around ice-cream shops; 40, adult bookstores (the future, y’all). Illinois, New York and Massachusetts offer no surprises: missed connections are most likely to happen on public transit—the subway or the train. "Supermarket," "bar" and above all, "Walmart" are also popular options.
Ultimately though, I feel like this map brings up a lot more questions than it answers. Although seeing a lot of states with "Walmart" as a top location makes sense as Walmart is a big part of the everyday experience for a lot of people, it still is kind of mindblowing to see that many states where it’s the top-ranked "Missed Connections" site. Does Walmart know something we don’t? Is Walmart covertly working on some kind of plan to steer the love lives of unsuspecting Americans, subliminally creating a deeper level of brand loyalty?
And Georgia, when you say "The Car," do you mean you looked over and saw someone driving and found them attractive? Shouldn’t you be driving though? And does that mean now, as a state, Georgians who wish to attract alluring strangers must all proceed with caution when driving and be sure to cut it with the lip-syncing along to Steve Winwood or the nose-picking at stoplights, lest your soulmate leer over and see it? And fitness is important, but are people really going to gyms between 2 and 4 a.m.? And perhaps most importantly, Indiana, what the hell does "At Home" mean? Are you looking into people’s windows? Because that’s gross and a huge violation, don’t do that. Are you courting the person delivering your pizza? Are you just imagining human contact after being cooped up indoors for so long? Either way, Indiana, you should probably consider some hobbies. I would say, "go home, Indiana, you are drunk," but you basically need to do the opposite of that.