50 First Dates: VI
a much needed lighter approach than the depth of diary IV.
Most little girls dress up as fairy princesses or their favorite disney characters. Me? A modern-day bride. Hair down + walking down the aisle with honeymoon bags packed and “here comes the bride” blasting down my childhood home corridor. Only thing missing was the husband. Age 4. This procession did not just occur on halloween. It occurred often, whenever i was in the mood to get married. i would suit up, grab my hat bags and makeup kits, turn the music on loud + make sure my mom was watching and hope my dad was ready to give me away -- via phone, as he slaved away at his office. 28 years later, i’m in bed at 4am, writing about 50 first dates + matchmaker mishaps. below.
Now, love is love and
Business is business.
But let us also consider the business of love,
which is just a hair shy of the business of lust,
Lust + love are both among the oldest businesses in the world, no doubt.
But lets stick to love, matchmaking in particular where Fiddler on the Roof immediately comes to mind. Not much has changed, matchmakers are yentahs. they sell relationships + their networks, with the possibility that love might spark.
Like any broker (stock, real estate, art, love), some are good, some are not so good.
And some just get lucky. You may wonder, how it works. In my experience, women are sought after to be introduced to their paying clients, after a phone interview or too long questionnaire with personal questions and personal preferences. the men pay a service fee, upwards of $10K-50K, depending on the matchmaker -- which always felt a bit suspect, or rather, a blurring of lines between the aforementioned business of love + business of lust. two stories below.
Matchmaker Mishap 1
Age 25, Eleven Madison Park.
I have only visited the former best restaurant in the world 3 times. Once or twice at their annual kentucky derby party for juleps, jubilees + fried chicken, dinner for my 25th birthday, and a ten-course wine-pairing dinner -- on a blind date. I invited him. Risky or not, i typically do what i want and in this situation, it was no different. I had recently met a matchmaker who was young + fun, someone i’d want to be friends with, whose clients (or members rather) paid upwards of $50,000 fees to find love. If you work with a matchmaker, it should be someone you’d see yourself befriending, because they’d set you up with someone they’d likely date themselves. the hook is, they also have to do their job. And i would be held accountable to give feedback following the first introduction. My setup was Eric, age 40. Doctor or lawyer, something seemingly stable or sounding predictable enough to be my plus 1 to a ten-course wine-pairing dinner with strangers at the best restaurant in the world.
The variables were already unpredictable, so i went for conservative attire: silk dress, black patent pointy louboutins, smoky eye and surreptitious smile. Director of communications for chef michael white + the altamarea group at age 25, confident AF but sweet nonetheless, “looking” for love in all the the wrong places, which certainly didn’t include a stable blind date with a banker + a tasting menu. I was much more interested in the trouble-hunting trader catching my eye from across the room. Course after course was delivered, palm-size portions on platter-sized plates and with it all the first date getting-to-know-you conversation and another pour of french wine. Two issues of note:
My drinking skill is below average at best. One glass of wine is borderline too much. Ten tasting pours could potentially result in a post-college-party type fiasco.
A first date should be a casual beer at a dark bar.
Thankfully we were seated at a table of 10, a safe cushion for small talk. Dinner was fine, too much wine, for too little humor -- too many courses and too little food. Three hours in, just before dessert, and after our 8th pour of f wine, eric excused himself to the restroom. A woman i’d never met started asking questions and all too honestly, i answered that yes it was our first date and no, there wouldn’t be a second. As Eric returned i excused myself next -- and then returned to find eric had already gotten his coat. The good samaritan next to me let eric know he was toast. No goodbye, and nearly 9 courses in, he left. My blind date was blindsided. And i was left at eleven madison park 9 of 10 courses in, toasted, terrified and with serious explaining to do tomorrow to the matchmaker i trusted, who trusted me, to behave.
Matchmaker Mishap 2
October 2015: A family friend urged me to meet her. “Everyone knows they are the best on the upper east side trust me.” More than ample reason to decline but rather i curiously cabbed myself to midtown. Enter into a too loud, too greasy Greek restaurant on a too rainy night after a too long work day, after convincing myself that the $30 cab ride + $250 entry fee was a cheap price to pay if it procured my prince charming. See, the male clients pay the 10k plus fee, but to enter your name in the race, there is an entry fee. i bypassed the host stand and took a deep breath as i headed upstairs to an empty table and strong smell of saganaki. I wore business casual as requested, and waited patiently while the host carelessly collected cash from husband hunting hopefuls. And she was dressed carelessly in sweatpants and sneakers. The dress code was specific, for everyone except her. As the women gathered around the table, she sat, stuffed herself with hummus and simultaneously began her interrogation. Women of all shapes and sizes went around the table introducing themselves and then the questions began.
Height? Age? Weight? Occupation?
What do you see when you look in the mirror?
If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?
Have you had any surgeries?
Do you plan on having any surgeries?
What size are your breasts? Are they real?
She was just getting warmed up. Photos. Men like photos. You need better photos.
I thought i was going to be sick. I paid this women to degrade me, to degrade us. I spent hard earned money and time on a sweatpant clad she hating saganaki eater. Furious, i got up from a table of gold digging desperates on the hunt for deep pockets and went downstairs. The manager stopped me as I scurried out and asked if all was ok. I explained that there was a woman upstairs degrading women, collecting money to belittle, disguising herself as a helper but rather just inflicting harm. I gave him my business card and left, with $250 less cash, a little less pride, but a hell of a sense of what integrity doesn’t look like. He texted me the next day to tell me he will no longer host her husband hunting hummus gatherings and i emailed her asking for a refund, rather verbatim: “i work hard from my money and while i respect what you do, i am not a gold digger and this program does not fit in my moral compass. I assume you don’t refund but i’d hope you might reconsider.” i have yet to hear back and saganaki still saddens me.