About 150 new postings appear on the "strictly platonic" personals on the Seattle-Tacoma Craigslist site each day. These are the stories of three people who took a chance with "strictly platonic" to beat the "Seattle Freeze."
A Sunday night posting on Craigslist, in the “strictly platonic” section:
“save me from boredom! — w4m — 25 (seattle)
“Im just sitting around with my dog and a glass of wine … ah hell a bottle of wine. Nothing is on TV. Would love to email/text whatever … “
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Last year, more than two of every five houses, apartments and condos in Seattle were one-person households.
Certainly, a number of those are singles who would love to be in love, find a romantic relationship.
Meanwhile, it sure is nice to just have … some friends.
That’s no easy task in Seattle, especially for newcomers.
There’s a term for the city’s standoffishness: “Seattle Freeze.” Newcomers have said the people here are cold, distant and not trusting. They say Seattleites want you to “Have a nice day, somewhere else.”
So how do you find friends?
If you’re willing to take a risk, there is Craigslist.
The risk is that even though you can post anonymously, there is still fear of the unknown.
Maybe a weirdo will answer. Maybe you’ll get some cruel e-mails.
Still, on a typical day, there are some 150 new such Craigslist postings for the Seattle-Tacoma area.
These are the stories of three adventuresome souls who posted on “strictly platonic” looking for friends.
One didn’t have much success; the others did.
None regrets taking the chance.
Single female, 28, “pleasantly plump,” African-American/Native American, with a law degree.
After earning a law degree in 2006 from the University of Illinois, Siobhan Beaver ended up in Seattle.
She now works at an e-commerce company, doing research for its sales operation, and she’s taking classes six nights a week in preparation for this state’s bar exam.
Beaver lives in Des Moines but thinks of herself as a Midwesterner in attitude, having spent time in Illinois and Missouri.
“I’ve noticed a different vibe here. People refer to it as the ‘Seattle Freeze,’ ” she says. “In the Midwest, if you want to hang out with somebody, you just go to their place. Here, it’s perceived as being rude if you don’t call ahead.
“Even in Chicago, crossing paths, you make eye contact and might smile to acknowledge the other person. Here, everybody looks down or straight ahead.”
Beaver has made friends at work, but she wanted a wider range.
So she decided in June to post on “strictly platonic.”
In the posting, Beaver said, “I introduced myself and said I was looking for a diverse group of women older than 21. They could be professional women, stay-at-home mothers. They could be Latinas, black women, white women, people of different religious faiths, conservative, liberal. Ultimately, it was to have a safe atmosphere to talk over dinner.”
She got two dozen responses.
In the months since, the women have gotten together about 10 times, Beaver said, with anywhere from three to eight attending. They’ve met at a tea room; they’ve gone to see a movie; gone to a restaurant. They talk about everything from politics to health care.
In October, Beaver placed a second posting on “strictly platonic,” looking for a woman friend.
“I’m a level 22 warlock,” the headline said.
She was looking for people to run a “group quest” on World of Warcraft, the popular online role-playing game of which she had become a fan.
Beaver got two responses to that much more narrow-focus ad, unfortunately from people who played for a different warring faction in the game.
But she’s happy with the results of that first post.
Just remember, she says, once you start a group that meets regularly, “You have to put work into it. You have to be diligent about communicating with them. You have to acknowledge you’ll be sincere about it.”
Underground cartoonist, male, 39, new in town.
John Roberson began his “strictly platonic” posting in October this way:
“I’m new here, from Chicago (and 6 years ago, Berkeley) …
“I am an underground cartoonist and writer, looking for some friends of similar mind to hang with, explore Seattle, watch movies with, talk, that kind of thing …
“I am sarcastic and strange, and, I’d like to think, witty … And I mock a lot of things. It’s just how I am. Do you? Good! Will you admit in public to not really liking jazz? Even better!”
Roberson lives in a Broadview apartment filled with books, DVDs, CDs and posters of old movies.
“I’m not the most social person. I’m a little shy,” he said. “I’m not very good about going into places by myself. So there aren’t a whole lot of options for meeting people.”
It is a little disconcerting when Roberson shows a copy of one of his underground comics.
It is titled “The Story of Oh!” and the cover shows the back of a woman, naked except for garters and stockings, and long, white gloves extending to her shoulders.
“Yes, I draw smut. I like to use the term, ‘smut,'” said Roberson, who with his bookish looks, seems more like a literature teaching assistant.
Roberson has been drawing since he was a kid, he says, and a few years ago — “for the hell of it” — drew an adult comic book.
He adds that, although he can draw smut, “I’m not part of that world.”
In his world, he’d rather read an Erich Fromm book or again watch one of his favorite movies, the 1973 Malcolm McDowell cult classic “O Lucky Man!”
These days, he has a gig doing freelance art for a travel magazine and is working on a comic not about smut, but America in complete economic collapse. His work can be seen at jlroberson.org.
Roberson got two responses to his posting. One was spam, and the other from a woman “with a sad story” who was looking for romance.
“I was trying to see who would respond,” he said. “I didn’t have that huge of a stake in it. I try to avoid feeling too disappointed about things like that.”
Anyway, he has had much better luck with several postings he’s placed in “men seeking women” for romance.
Some 20 women responded, and he has become friends with a couple of them.
Women, Roberson said, are not put off by his smut drawings.
“It actually has gotten me dates,” he said. “I mention it to forewarn them. They suddenly seem more interested, not less.
“And when I show it to them, they usually find it funny, they think it’s cool.”
Mom, married, 21, with a 2-year-old daughter, husband isn’t much for going out, wants friends, wants to experience life.
Anghela Chegarnov and her family came to the United States from Russia when she was 3.
Angie, as she likes to call herself, was home-schooled and married at 17 to Ilia Chegarnov, who is eight years older, also of Russian background, and a truck driver. They had met in church.
“We weren’t really in love. We Russians have rules. If you’re not married, you’re not allowed to hang out together, not allowed to do anything,” Chegarnov said.
“We believe that before a wedding, you cannot sleep with any men. And if you hang out with a guy, well, anything is possible. We wanted to get married fast in order to be free. I wanted to leave the house. I liked him … I thought we’d fall in love someday.”
So they married, and a baby girl, Snezhanna, came along.
And so did disenchantment.
“I’m 21. I want to have fun,” Chegarnov said.
She wanted to go dancing, she said. Ilia was more of a homebody.
Little and big things began to pile up in the relationship. The marriage got rocky. They are working on it.
Still, Chegarnov wanted someone just to talk to, to share what was going on in her life.
So in October, she posted on “strictly platonic.” She was hesitant at first to put up the posting.
“My husband is really strict with me,” Chegarnov said. “He hates it if he thinks that’s a dumb way to find a friend.”
In her posting, Chegarnov wrote, “I am looking for a good friend. I didn’t have a friend for a long time. I would really like one. Any friend would be nice.”
Unlike Beaver and Roberson, Angie posted photos of herself — and of her daughter.
“If I didn’t have a picture, nobody would reply to me,” she said.
The photos caught the attention of men who weren’t interested in platonic things. Men accounted for 35 of the 50 replies she got. She didn’t answer them.
“A lot of the e-mails were like, ‘Come over to my place. I’ll pay you. One guy offered $2,500,” she said.
But then there were the responses from women, of whom Chegarnov has met eight.
She responded mostly to those who themselves have a young child.
“A young girl, 18, 19, 20, who’s never been in my shoes, she doesn’t have a clue. A woman with a child, she understands me,” Chegarnov said.
She’s become good friends with a few, one of whom now baby-sits for her.
Taking the chance has worked out, Chegarnov said.
She talks about one of her new friends.
“She calls me every other day,” Chegarnov said. “It looks like she cares.”
Erik Lacitis: 206-464-2237 or email@example.com