Over the past few years, I have gone to so many social situations by myself that I forgot how much better it is having a buddy by my side.
This revelation came a couple of months ago, when I attended a party with a friend, a young guy formerly associated with my office. We met up in New York City while I was home for a long break, and I convinced him to join me at the party, run by a temple's social group for men and women in their 20s and 30s.
My buddy -- I'll call him "Marc" -- is more than a decade my junior, and relatively new to the Jewish singles social scene because he recently graduated from college.
This party, it turns out, was his first Jewish quasi-singles event. Although I have had informal mentors in some professional endeavors, I've never been one, especially when it pertains to social issues.
Nevertheless, I saw some real potential in a protégé for my friend Marc -- a young, smart professional and aspiring comedian who was in search of a nice Jewish girl.
Upon entering the bar, which was reserved for the party, Marc seemed a bit apprehensive, saying: "I've never done anything like this before. I haven't even been to temple in years."
I assured him that even though this was affiliated with a temple, it was not a religious event.
I also assured him that there would be plenty of attractive, smart and interesting women there. After all, I know the marketplace.
For $25, there was an open bar; we got a couple of drinks and found a spot to chat and catch up on things. It had been several months since we last hung out, and Marc had just started a new job.
Chattin' Them Up
We found a place along the wall and talked while scanning the room. There were a handful of people I had recently met at previous social functions. In addition to the wingman, there were some other people I could talk with.
But I really forgot how great it is having a wingman, even if he was a novice at this social scene and needed some schooling on a couple of the finer points of conversing with the fairer gender.
At one point, Marc got a little snappy with a woman, and even started feeding her false information about where he lived and what he did. Later, I cautioned him about being straight with the ladies at these types of functions, even if he wasn't interested in them.
Our interplay and repartee also made us more approachable. While we were talking, a beautiful young woman in a group next to us perked up and sort of sidled up to us. She made some eye contact with Marc, and then I stopped and introduced Marc to her.
I didn't know her; still, it seemed natural to make that introduction. After all, I've been in this situation before as a potential matchmaker and sensed the girl's interest in my friend.
Having me there as a verbal sparring partner also helped him showcase himself and even work some of his material for her, with a straight man or spokesman right there. As such, I could say nice things about him without him having to blow his own horn, hence the advantage of a wingman.
After a few minutes, I excused myself and moved about the room. A while later, they parted, and I got Marc's insider report. To my amazement, he didn't get her phone number.
"Is that something I should have done?" he said to me.
"Yes, she was really into you -- couldn't you tell?" I replied.
"I'm not good at all this," he said.
"Trust me, she liked you. She was smiling and laughing, and went out of her way to come over and get into our conversation. You cannot leave here without getting her contact info. I won't be able to sleep knowing that you didn't get her number."
As the party wound down, Marc heeded my instructions and stumbled through an exchange of contact information.
In the car on the way back, he recounted the transaction: Marc approached, prying her away from her friends, saying, "Okay, so how does this work? Do we exchange numbers or e-mail addresses? I don't know how we do this, and I'm not good at it."
His delivery -- a combination of schtik and neophyte honesty -- could have easily backfired. But it didn't. They exchanged information and had a few dates.
Maybe I'm in the wrong profession.
Roy S. Gutterman is a Syracuse, N.Y.-based writer. E-mail him at: www.Lrev.com .