The event was bad enough. Besides me, there were three guys and a 40-year-old woman, who, to put it politely, was "not all there."
While the hot dogs and veggie burgers were cooking on the grill, this guy showed up. I'll call him "Milt."
His head of receding gray hair gave away his age from half a field away. He looked well into his 60s. The event, however, was billed for singles ages 23 to 40.
Milt read about it in the local Jewish paper, acknowledging that he knew it was for a younger crowd. In fact, he came to the last major singles event I organized about 10 months earlier. At that one, he refused to pay the $8 admission, which covered all-you-could-eat food and drinks. Not only did he have a plate at that event; he also took home a vat of leftover lasagna and salad.
More recently, when Milt sauntered up to the picnic area, I welcomed him by reminding him that he owed me money.
As the sole organizer/planner for the Syracuse Jewish singles group, loosely assisted by the Jewish Foundation, ordinarily, I wouldn't be so rude to people coming to an event, but Milt seemed to be asking for it.
He knew that he didn't belong there. Nonetheless, we engaged in some small talk. He told me he was "an attorney" with the tone that only a lawyer would use with someone he thought was beneath him. He was vague about what kind of law he practiced, saying, "I mostly read SEC reports."
"What does that mean, read SEC reports?" I asked.
"I read them for work," he replied.
"Securities regulation or derivative suits?"
He didn't adequately answer, but I think my use of legal terms alarmed him. Then he asked me where all the other people were, almost imputing a degree of fault to me because only four others showed up.
"I don't know," I said. "I have no idea how many people will come. We've had anywhere from eight to 30 people at events. I don't know how many people RSVPed because I don't control the e-mail account."
My point person at the foundation handled the e-mail, and she went off to Europe without telling me. Thus, I had no idea how many people were coming. The misty drizzle that was starting didn't help matters.
Then Milt really set me off. "Do many girls come to this?"
"I don't know, but you know someone is starting a group for people in your age bracket," I said.
"Oh, I'm not attracted to postmenopausal women," he said.
"I see. So, you want a woman in her 20s?"
"No, I'd go for 33," he said. He was perfectly serious.
"Me, too," I said.
Then, I added: "What could you possibly have in common with a 33-year-old?"
"Probably not much, but I'm more attracted to 33-year-old women," he said simply. "What do you have in common with a 33-year-old?"
"Probably not much, but ... " I said.
"So, there," he said, with a smirk.
"At least a 33-year-old is closer to me in age. Let me tell you, I've seen and know some beautiful, attractive women in your age group here," I said.
"Then you should go out with them," he said.
Between his evasiveness and his snotty tone, Milt just got under my skin.
"Are you divorced or never married," I asked.
"Never been married."
"Well, you really should get involved with the older person's group," I said. "I'd be happy to put you in touch with the women who run that group."
"I told you, I'm not into postmenopausal women," he said.
"Well, you should get yourself a nice 20-year-old, then," I said.
He turned his head. "Where am I going to do that?"
"You should go to Russia, the Philippines or Thailand, and find yourself a nice, hot, young girl," I said.
There was a bit of truth to my sarcasm.
When "Donna," my point person at the foundation, returned, I told her about the deflating event and our uninvited guest. She was angry.
"That's why women in their 20s and 30s don't come to singles events -- because of guys like him! I'm going to call him and make sure that he knows he's not welcome at your events. That's wrong."
Staying With Ranks
Several months earlier, I had my own run-in with the two women who run the over 40s group. They accosted me at a Purim party, asking to piggyback on events my group ran. They got huffy when I politely declined.
"Why shouldn't our groups do something together?" one of the ladies asked, prodding further. "You should be open to working with other groups."
Running the singles group is a task that's frustrating and challenging enough -- I didn't really need criticism from these yentas.
"Okay, let me ask you something. I'm in my mid-30s -- do you want to hang out with me?"
"No, not really," one of them said.
"Then why would you want to have a social event with me and my group? I am fairly representative of the ages of people who come to my events," I said.
"On top of that," I continued, "let me tell you what will happen: All the older men will end up lingering around the younger women, and that will creep them out and irritate you. So, think about it, do you really want to hang out with me and my group?"
They glared at me, and then walked away grumbling.
For a nanosecond, I could almost understand why Milt would want to avoid these ladies. Then again, that still shouldn't give him a license to come to younger-based events.
Roy S. Gutterman is a Syracuse, N.Y.-based writer. To contact him, visit: www.Lrev.com .