It was never my intention to speak to a high-end Jewish matchmaker. “Our introductory fee is $3,000,” she said. “But don’t worry, you are protected with the women. Since they are also paying the price to get on our books, it means you won’t get a gold digger.”
Phew. That was the least of my concerns. “Actually, I would love a gold digger,” I responded. “Please tell her to bring a shovel. I’ll fly her to a gold mine in South Africa, and she can start digging.”
I didn’t sign up for the matchmaking service because right now, I like throwing away my cash on luxuries like having food in the fridge, running water and electricity. But three weeks after that conversation, the matchmaker sent me a text saying she had someone in mind and wanted to introduce me to one of her clients at no cost. Clearly she was short of men. I immediately said yes to the opportunity and went to Home Depot to buy a gold-digging shovel of my own.
If it was a good match (spoiler alert: it wasn’t), I was all set to book a special honeymoon treat to South Africa’s beautiful Garden Route and go wine tasting on its south coast. We would go to the beach, at which point I’d present the surprise honeymoon gift of a metal detector. I could then relax, sip wine and eat biltong while she scoured the beach for precious metals.
We would go to the beach, at which point I’d present the surprise honeymoon gift of a metal detector.
Dating in the time of the coronavirus pandemic is easier than ever before. It is not that I am trying to save time or money, but every first date is cheap, since it usually takes place by video call in my temporary UK apartment, and the entire travel process is walking from my home office to the lounge. This takes at least 10 seconds, which is considerately faster than the journey I took to my dates when I lived in Los Angeles pre-COVID-19.
I had well-tested locations for first dates. They would usually consist of drinks at either the Mr. C Hotel or the Beverly Hills Marriott. By pure coincidence, both hotels happened to be within a two-minute walk of the apartment I had there. Chance can be a fine thing.
But one must take caution at having too much comfort. It is perfectly acceptable to wear a shirt and tie along with pajama bottoms on virtual dates, since chaste video calls are generally restricted to above the waist. But I was recently on a video date with a charming South African woman who was only wearing her pajamas. Although this sounded good in theory, I think she had preceded the call with a fairly extensive personal wine-tasting session. I found this highly offensive, and after the call, I had to do penance for looking at such an unholy sight. I went on a self-imposed fast with literally no food or water whatsoever and kept it up for an entire 20 seconds until I went to the fridge and had some cake.
The novelty of dating during the coronavirus pandemic has worn off. Local rules dictate that you can only go into a bar or restaurant with someone who is in your residential bubble, and it feels a bit cheeky to ask someone to move in with you before your first date. The only other option is to go for a walk outside, but since the winter temperature in London is only a couple of degrees above freezing, and sunset is around 3:45 p.m., the only option is to go for a daytime walk on Sundays (it feels a bit creepy to invite someone to go for a walk at night). Weekdays are possible if you are unemployed, which makes for an even less enticing date.
When I have been on the occasional in-person socially-distanced date, it is a novelty asking the other person “please, can you wear a mask?” Sometimes, I insist that they wear a full face mask that covers their entire face.
I have designed a wonderful bar-alternative activity where I bring two bottles of Kosher wine wrapped in brown paper bags — one for me and one for my date — and invite the lucky lady to join me in sitting on the grass and drinking in random peoples’ front yards, which is basically our own wine-tasting garden route. For the next fortunate date, I’m going to bring a small shovel so that she can dig up a flowerbed and see what treasure lies beneath.