I got set up on a blind date through Yelp

 Barkowski is the best bar to get stood up at in Santa Monica, but if you don't get stood up, have some beer and play bumper pool.

Barkowski is the best bar to get stood up at in Santa Monica, but if you don't get stood up, have some beer and play bumper pool.

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.