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Adrift in the Age of the 'Hookup'
She admired him the whole night, but did not talk to him. It was surprising because the woman I'll call "Judy" was not only quite attractive, but she had a high-powered, high-profile job. She certainly knew how to talk to strangers.
Judy was best friends with Aviva, my new friend who had organized a fundraising party at a hip New York City club.
"That guy over there is so hot," she said to me and Aviva.
"Really?" I said trying to figure out what was so special about this plain-looking guy.
"Totally. He's from Israel and played pro-basketball there," Judy said. She looked like she was swooning for him.
If this was a Victorian romance, she would have been fanning herself with a hand fan. But this was New York City in the summer, and she was figuring out a way to meet the guy. Judy was visiting from out of state solely for her friend's gala.
"That guy is no taller than me. I doubt he played pro-anything, anywhere," I said.
"He lives here now. But he told me he played basketball," she said.
"Did you get his phone number?" I asked.
"No, I didn't really talk to him," she said.
"Why not?" Aviva said.
Judy was surprisingly shy, and even a bit nervous around guys she found attractive or "hot," she admitted.
Still astonished that she had not "really" spoken to him, I offered to introduce her to him.
"Why? Do you know him?" she said.
"No, but I know you now. Come on, I'll introduce you to him," I said. I could not believe what I was doing. Even though I can take partial credit for two legal marriages, my friend's equivalent of a common-law marriage and one long-term couple, I have never formally taken on the lead role as matchmaker or hook-up facilitator.
The target was talking with his friend about 15 feet away. I tapped Judy on the arm and said, "Come with me."
I walked straight up to him, read his name tag, "Eytan," introduced myself, shook his hand, and said, "I don't believe you have met Judy."
At first, he looked confused. He certainly understood what was going on and knew English because, as I later learned, he had attended college in the United States and now worked here.
Judy, who spoke fluent Hebrew with little to no American accent, broke into a conversation. My work was done, and I went back to trying to talk with Aviva, but she was busy working the crowd.
Judy, who was staying with Aviva and had planned to spend the night on a futon, left with Eytan and did not return to her friend's apartment until 5 a.m. the next day.
Deciphering the Encounter
This was the first time I facilitated a real hookup.
The kicker: It wasn't even mine. I got nothing out of this except a story. I can be just as much of a guy as any other guy out there. Unfortunately, I tend not to work fast enough to accomplish short-term hookups. I'm getting too old for all that anyway.
If this was the 1970s, they would have called it a "one-night-stand." Now, it's called a hookup. It's really just sex without a relationship.
Aviva was concerned that I would find fault with Judy's behavior, or that the encounter would reflect poorly on both of them. I hope I am telling this story without being judgmental.
Honestly, it's great that today's liberated, modern career women are capable of seeing what they want and going after it. Not every introduction has to merge into a marriage. But would I want a serious relationship with a woman who had a habit of hooking up with random guys and never hearing from them or calling them again? Probably not -- no more than a woman would want a relationship with a guy who had an extensive resume of random hookups.
A couple of months ago, I ran into Judy again, who was visiting New York City for one of the big matzah-ball dances on Christmas Eve. She was sitting on a bar stool, looking disinterested as she chatted with another ordinary guy, this one a bit shorter than Eytan.
This time, my appearance seemed to chase away the guy, which, I also gathered, did not disappoint her. We spoke for a few minutes over the thumping music and background cacophony.
"Yeah, I never heard from Eytan again," she said, offering up one of our common bonds.
"Did you want to hear from him again?" I responded.
"Not really," she said.
This was the affirmation that my facilitation served an appropriate purpose that warm summer night in the big city. At least someone I know took care of something that needed taking care of last summer. Unfortunately, it was not me.