Last year, 25-year-old New Zealander Reese McKee was celebrating New Year’s Eve in Hong Kong, traipsing among the brilliant lights of the city, when he happened upon an American woman crying alone on the side of the road. He told her jokes. She laughed. They drank. They danced. They reconnected with the friends she had lost earlier in the evening. Then, they parted ways at 6 a.m. But not before this sad, attractive mystery woman left Reese with two fateful words: “Find me.” The next morning, Reese awoke and examined the clues. He knew her name was Katie, that she was from Washington, D.C., and that her email address “had ‘kitty kat’ in it.” Now, he’s enlisting the Internet to help track her down. What happened next is a Manic Pixie nightmare.
Reese posted his tale—and a cellphone photo of Katie, which he had snapped amidst the evening’s debauchery—to Facebook, and now everyone’s rooting for Reese. The story was picked up from New Zealand to Washington, D.C. Gawker and the Frisky boosted the signal. We may not know much about Katie, but we’re all learning more and more about Reese. And he’s learning a lot … about himself.
“Somewhere along the line my romantic soul went silent, and this is a step towards putting that right,” he wrote on the page of a Facebook event he created to facilitate the search.
“I was hurt a long time ago. The hopeless romantic in me was locked away when he got hurt because it was too much,” he wrote.
“If she isn’t taken, i’ll need to duel someone/something to take insult of her honour.”
“I hope to find her. And along the way, find myself.”
Perhaps Reese will never find Katie. Perhaps that is because Katie does not want to be found. I don’t know Katie, but I do know that when a woman hangs out with a dude for an evening, coughs up fragments of her email address, then tells him, “find me,” what she often means is: “Do not find me.”
But this isn’t just about Katie, or Reese. It’s about all of us concocting a real-life Love Actually plot in the service of facilitating some guy’s international womanhunt. If Reese had just been like, “I am looking to hunt down a woman. All I have is her name, general location, and this photograph she never consented to be blasted across the Internet,” we would all probably be like, “Dude—leave Katie alone.” But thread in a few personal details about hurt, heartbreak, and personal discovery, and we’re all asking, “Do you recognize this face?” in the service of remedying Reese’s (deeply thematic) sense of loss.
Reese “got the idea to use Facebook in June but the timing wasn’t right. I think this time of year people have hope for the magic (of Christmas),” he told the New Zealand Herald. “Everyone’s sort of projecting their own romantic ideas or missed opportunities, and helping out—the power of social media,” he said.
Run, Katie. Run.