I went to the virtual singles mixer from here / now to find a midlife crush

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I’ve never felt particularly good hanging out. It seemed to me that everyone was “better” in this area. But as I got older, I strived to become a more confident human being, in love with himself and welcoming any opportunity for love that presented itself to me. Since I started quarantining during the coronavirus outbreak, I thought dating should be put on the back burner for now. But Here / Now the virtual singles mixer changed that.

Here / Now is a company that hosts singles gatherings, typically in New York City and Los Angeles. In mid-March 2020, mixers went virtual. I attended one of the company’s Manhattan events last year (when Here / Now was previously known as Perchance). The evening was fun! The people were nice! There was free wine and lots of cheese! At the end of the night, everyone filled out an online survey to indicate who they were romantically interested in. If you received correspondence, you would receive an email. I met a guy that I liked that night, but I didn’t have any matches. At first I felt rejected in a whole new way, but then I remembered how much I still enjoyed the night. I introduced myself in a new way and ate a ton of cheese. It was not a loss.

When Here / Now switched to virtual events, I jumped at the chance to attend. Historically, I haven’t had the best luck with dating apps, and I won’t meet anyone on my new daily commute from my bed to my fridge. So I appreciated the opportunity to connect and be entertained.

Katie Tamola

My seat for the virtual singles mixer.

On the morning of the event, I woke up excited to have some sort of social plan for the evening. For the first time in 14 days, I put on clothes instead of pajamas. I put on red lipstick and felt about 68% more alive than I felt all March. I felt like I was preparing for a real date. I hadn’t seen another person in real life for 15 days so even though this blender was online I still felt grateful.

At 7 p.m., I joined the mixer on Zoom. There were 15 faces: 12 singles (including me), plus three people from Here / Now who would host the event. There were a few rules. As always, Here / Now asked not to talk about work. But this time around, we weren’t allowed to discuss life in quarantine either. The organizers asked everyone to bring an object that represented our personality. We were also told to make ourselves a drink; Here / Now was kind enough to send us a coupon for a wine delivery service. I, an abundantly sophisticated individual, poured leftover February White Claws into a wineglass with a straw. I was already having a nice big Thursday.

To break the ice, we each shared a few words about our articles. A woman spoke of a beautiful photo she took on her trip to Namibia. Two men shared books that meant a lot to them. I gifted my New York Yankees lawn gnome named Derek (from Derek Jeter!), Who says everything you need to know about me.

Katie Tamola

Then we were put into a series of conversations. Each round, whether it was a group (four screens / four participants) or a one-on-one (two screens / one man for my gnome love), had a prompt. They included:

  • How were you as a child and how are you still like that child?
  • If you could be an expert in one area, which one would it be?
  • If you could have a huge house with a unique and strange room, what would it be?
  • What makes you endearing?
  • What is one thing you did that you will never do again?

The facilitators noted that they designed thoughtful questions to get us talking about things that mattered to us. One question sparked a conversation about the books with a man wearing a hat the size of a newborn baby. In a group chat, I heard a guy say he liked the Mets. It was a terrible life decision on his part, but I was immediately excited to chat with someone who cared as much about baseball as I did. He was attractive and sweet, so naturally I told him my most endearing quality is that I sniff. Really, that’s what all men are dying to hear.

I was really surprised that the Zoom configuration was not at all inconvenient. The attraction flourished even on the screens. The whole event went well, and I’m not sure how Here / Now does it, but they always seem to find people who are nice and offer great conversation. At the end of the night, I completed the survey to indicate the attraction to the man in the hat and the Mets fan. I didn’t match either, but I did match a nice man with a nice beard who said how excited he was to be an uncle for the first time. Overall I had a great evening.

This event was a great way to compensate for the intensity and loneliness that can accompany social distancing. It gave me the opportunity to put on makeup, meet new people and, even though it was only an hour, to feel a little less alone. These are weird and unhappy times, but I hope they bring possibilities and magic that we wouldn’t have experienced otherwise.

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