Metro to Vienna is area's most romantic commuter line

By Ellen McCarthy
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 27, 2010; 4:54 PM

They were on the same Metro train heading toward Vienna two nights in a row, sitting in almost the exact same seats. She watched him edit papers and noticed his red sneakers and khaki-colored corduroys. She stole glances in his direction, thinking that he looked like just her type. There was no way of knowing if he felt the same, so anonymously she wrote: "If you're interested: What stop did I get off at and what was I wearing?"

With a few clicks, her entreaty went up on cyberspace's biggest bulletin board for those looking to get a second chance at love - the Craigslist Missed Connections ads.

Our hopeful heroine couldn't have known it, but her Hail Mary attempt to catch the attention of Mr. Khaki Cords was among those that made the Vienna/Fairfax Metro station the most romantic stop on the WMATA grid.

Craigslist analyzed the 286 Missed Connections ads posted for the Washington region over a seven-week period earlier this year and found that Vienna was by far the stop that produced the most amorous thoughts among its riders.

"Maybe it's just the name Vienna," speculates Peter Freedman, the Craigslist public relations official who ran the analysis. "Perhaps it just conjures images of going to the imperial ball in a gown and saving the last waltz for me."

Uh, perhaps. But Freedman actually lives in London, so he's not too familiar with the brown tiles and plastic seat cushions of our subway system. Imperial balls probably don't come to mind - no matter where you're headed.

The rankings were based not just on the number of mentions each station received in the seven-week period but also the number of mentions compared to ridership for that station. Based on those calculations, the Vienna stop on the Orange Line was deemed almost twice as romantic as the next station on the list, Van Dorn Street.

"It could be because it's the end of the line," Freedman says. "They spend the whole journey thinking about who the other person is - it could just be the time factor."

That makes sense, until you consider that Largo Town Center, which is at the end of the Blue Line, was deemed Washington's least romantic station. It got zero Missed Connections mentions over the seven weeks.

Mass transit systems are a major factor in Missed Connection ads for every major American city. "A subway throws together so many people who would not normally encounter each other," Freedman says. "So it's sort of a factory for chance encounters and for fresh romantic possibilities."

He also thinks that the unwritten code of silence between passengers on trains can contribute to an atmosphere of people-watching that sometimes leads to longing.

And the longing doesn't always go unfulfilled. The folks at Craigslist keep a file of happy endings reported by people brought together by Missed Connections ads. There's the single mom at a movie theater who fell in love with a single dad who kept looking at her, and finally got in touch through the Web site. And the couple who met on a flight to Minneapolis but didn't exchange numbers until he posted an ad looking for her. At last word, they were planning a wedding.

As for our loveless lady bound for Vienna - well, there's no news. So if you're out there, Mr. Khaki Cords, it's your move.

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