ARE you a lonely singleton? If so, have you considered hiring a wingperson?
Articles and reports keep telling us that feeling sadly alone is a big problem in Vancouver, especially for singles. The scuttlebutt is that local men hang back in bars, too scared to run the gauntlet of a woman's posse in order to chat her up, while dressed-up ladies clearly looking for Mr. Goodincome intimidate their laid-back prey.
Trust forthright Americans, with their ability to nose out a fresh business opportunity like an Italian pig finds truffles, to get to the bottom of this widespread problem. A story published online earlier this year by Columbia News Service (CNS) says that for some lonelyhearts, the solution is hiring a wingman or wingwoman - a wingperson, as it were.
This contractor will help you spot promising fellow singles in a public place like a bar, a pub or a busy café, approach the object of your desire to see if he or she shares your interest, then introduce you to each other.
You'd think you could just ask a friend - say you have any - to make such introductions as a favour, but according to a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article on wingpersons, your chums are often as inept as you are. They'll plunge into the desired person's orbit with a juvenile remark like "'My friend thinks you're hot'" and instantly scare him or her away.
So if you're not Seth Rogen starring in a Judd Apatow movie, the experts suggest you lose the buffoonish sidekicks. Instead, such agencies as The Professional Wingwoman will send you out on the prowl with a bona fide "dating assistant."
"What is a wingman?" asks the Vancouver website wingmantactics.com. "A wingman is your buddy-in-arms, your inspiration and support, the one who takes care of the obstacle (the grenade), your brother from another mother who helps you get women."
The wingperson phenomenon is apparently not new, just new to me. I have to wonder how a seasoned wingperson would approach a stranger.
"Hi there! I see you're drinking a Sex on the Beach!" he or she might begin. "I was hired by Don over there to approach women in bars for him. No, he's not the Jon Hamm lookalike who's winking at you over his five o'clock shadow. Don's the one playfully juggling beer bottles - see? Oops! Anyway, Don wants a date, and you look available. Do me a favour and talk to him, will you? But be standoffish. I want a second hour out of this gig."
There's no word on whether wingpersons stick around to steer you clear of conversational pitfalls like Romney versus Obama, or whether they'll teach you how to dance like cool people. You probably can't expect anybody as slick as Will Smith counselling Kevin James in the 2005 movie Hitch, Ryan Gosling sprucing up Steve Carell in 2011's Crazy, Stupid Love, or even Neil Patrick Harris's character volunteering for wingman duty on TV's How I Met Your Mother.
To me, this service sounds suspiciously like somebody reading social cues aloud to you because you're mysteriously blind to body language. The WSJ story suggests that the widespread inability to detect the subtleties inherent in face-to-face interaction may be the fault of social networking. That sounds highly likely to me, but then I've been out of the dating pool since before Carly Rae Jepsen was born.
At any rate, CNS claims that new wingperson agencies are springing up monthly. Some of them offer clients more comprehensive advice, in addition to handholding at the bar or other singles venue. New York's The Professional Wingman, for instance, advises its clients on why they're spending their evenings twiddling their thumbs by the foosball machine rather than doing the horizontal mambo with some dead ringer for Olivia Wilde.
"A lot of times wording is a problem for our clients," company founder Thomas Edwards told CNS's Vandana Sebastian, by which I guess he meant conversation. "They're unable to express their interest properly. While at a bar, we help them with pointers on what to say to their potential mates."
One Boston-based wingman, who calls himself a "confidence strategist," told CNS that he gives his clients pep talks. I'm not sure how much he charges for this gem: "If my client spots an attractive woman getting a drink by herself at the bar, I encourage him to go introduce himself."
The discussion board after the WSJ article goes on for pages with people bickering over the value of wingpersons - and even of women in general. I have no clue whether I'd hire a wingwoman if I were single. But I sure appreciate the reader who remarked, "Back in the day, this would have been a perfect plot for a Seinfeld episode. Our society has jumped the shark."