April 28, 2005
A Wing Girl and a Prayer
But I did go out with two Jewish 20-somethings the other night — at the same time. Both women were spirited and energetic, wearing those little golden necklaces with their names on them: Marni and Nina. They call themselves “Wing Girls,” dating aides from a new start-up called IcebreakerDating.com.
For $75 an hour — three-hour minimum — Nina Rubin and Marni Kinrys aim to help men like me meet my maybe-mate at an L.A. danceteria, Farmer’s Market, a poetry reading or wherever I choose, actually. It can be anywhere from Friday Night Live to the Israel Independence Day Festival, from the Skirball Cultural Center to LACMA.
The two women met in Israel on the Birthright program for under-26-year-olds. Nina, who is from New Mexico, where her family were the only Jews in town, went to Penn. Marni, a psych major from Toronto, went to college in western Ontario. They hit it off in the Old City, and one night dreamed up a service where they could take people out and introduce them to people. Genius. On a bet, they put an ad on craigslist.com. They found 75 responses waiting for them the next morning.
Marni had tried JDate. “I met a lot of people, but I don’t need a fire wall between me and the person,” she told me.
Nina also explored Jewish computerized courtship and admitted, “It may be a good motivating feature for some people. But I’m still a fan of meeting in person where you see the initial attraction and you can feel if there’s a chemistry — versus being a pen pal.”
The matchmakers have steered dozens of Jews, and non-Jews, too, ranging from 35 to 58, and they claim a 75 percent success rate — judging by the number of “target” phone numbers each client procures.
So, I figured, why not? I’ve tried everything else: SpeedDating (Pico-Robertson Starbucks version), UCLA Extension, Chasidic-aerobics by the beach, new shuls on the Westside, Dan Fogelberg concerts. Everything but the Venice drum circle. But I’d say I’ve been open.
I met them at a happy hour in Venice. Before they find you somebody, the Wing Girls get to know you for 45 minutes. They call themselves, “on-site dating specialists.”
When was my last relationship, they wanted to know. I told them I broke up in between the first and second seder. They asked what kind of woman I liked. I told them short, dark-haired Jewish women. They said they were not available. (That’s OK, Nina told me. Wing Girls always get hit on.) I said I also liked tall women, so tall they had troubles that nobody could see.
The Icebreaker’s angle contends that women are competitive and like what they can’t have, and what other women want. So men appear more attractive when they’re with another woman.
“Most people think our clients are these desperate poor losers,” Marni said. “Not at all! They’re cool guys, have great jobs, and a lot of them are wealthy.”
Sure, I thought. Who else can afford the $225?
“The price of a night out on Sunset,” Marni argued.
“And you don’t have to tip us!” Nina added.
“OK, what would be the next step for me?” I asked.
“You just point out a girl,” the ladies said.
“Simple as that?” I asked
“Or we’ll point out a girl that we think you’d like, and go bring her over,” they said.
“Kid in a candy shop?” I asked.
“Exactly,” they told me.
Suddenly these two action females, ravaging the basic hunter-gatherer foundation of our existence, set out. But putting theory into practice can suddenly feel even more awkward than where one’s usual self-loathing and loneliness usually leads. (I’m thinking of the shy computerized nice Jewish boy staring at screens all day. Not me.) Remember when cousin Moishe or Manny would just introduce you to someone from the neighborhood? Well, old school is out.
The first four women Marni and Nina tag-teamed were either engaged or celebrating engagements. A Canadian they sized up found their approach absurd.
“I’d have a dinner or wine tasting at the house and just invite eligible men and women,” said Kristin, not her real Canadian name. Her companion, Amy, was a little more game for the gambit. A friendly gal in “outside sales,” high-end, Amy said something about “business to business” and being between jobs.
I procured her phone number and also some laughs. I guess I’m too old, but I felt like a weenie for having to enlist Wing Girls to fight my battles for me. Does the word yenta ring a bell? My next move is “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” They promise even if I don’t end up married, at least my apartment will seem cozier.