I got set up on a blind date through Yelp
You're probably thinking: what is a Yelp date? Is that a thing? No. No, it is not a thing. And yet, somehow, I went on one. Because when adventure calls, you answer with a heartfelt "Yeah this is weird but okay I guess so!"
I was originally supposed to meet up with my director that night, but things fell through and I found myself on a Saturday evening with no plans. But then I got a message. What kind of message? A Yelp message.
If you didn't know, you can send direct messages to people on Yelp. When you find a review that you love or despise, you can reach out to the author and start a conversation. In this case, the message was particularly intriguing…
By the way: I hadn't even written a Yelp review in about four years. But the week before, I broke my four year Yelp-fast to write about a divey beer+soju bar called Barkowski. They have bumper pool, shuffleboard, and a Bukowski-themed slide show projected on the wall. It was actually my first time visiting, and probably the only place around Santa Monica I really want to go for a beer.
It's also where I was stood up on a first date. For the first time in my life.
Yes, I'd trekked all the way from East Hollywood to Santa Monica, only to be stood up by a horrible human who will surely burn in the embers of hell and regret her decision forever. HOWEVER, the bartender was awesome and we chatted while I had a couple beers. So I wanted to give this bartender a digital high-five with a nice Yelp review. And in this write-up I basically said: this is the best bar ever for getting stood up in Santa Monica!
To recap: 1. My first time at Barkowski led to: 2. My first time getting stood up, which led to: 3. My first Yelp review in four years, which led to: 4. My first direct Yelp message.
So, what was in this message that was so interesting? Well, a Yelper had found my recent Barkowski review. And she had enjoyed it. And she had been drinking. And was about to meet up with a friend in Santa Monica. And she wanted to set the two of us up on a Yelp date. It was just so bizarre that I had to say yes.
When I arrived at the bar, I was 100% ready for a weird night. Game on. But then I pulled out my phone to find a message: "Change of plans. We're going to Finn McCool's."
Finn McCool's. Hm. This did not bode well.
I reluctantly kicked over to good old Finny's, where I found a cover band playing 90s hits and a crowd of people that I would describe as "College Town Alumni Birthday Party.” Everyone was sloppy drunk on Jack and Coke and nostalgia—and to be fair, having a lot of fun.
However. My Yelp date talked about her dog, asked if I liked sports, and then stopped talking altogether. Her male friends, in polo shirts and track suits, gave me sideways glances. I drank my gin and adjusted my thrift store blazer. Oh man. This was perfect.
But then. The best thing of all happened, something I did not expect. At 11:50pm, one of the guys (who was a true Tom Brady disciple) shouted “Only 10 more minutes 'till Christmas!"
I had forgotten: it was the night before Superbowl. And now I will forever refer to the night before Superbowl as Football Christmas Eve, and Superbowl Sunday as Football Christmas Day. It was a football miracle.
Let me say thank you to my Yelp matchmaker, who had all the best intentions. While the date didn't work out, it led to something even better: a new way for me to make fun of my sportsball-loving friends and family. And a new way to further alienate myself as a judgmental curmudgeon.
Happy Belated Football Christmas, everyone. Go have a beer.