Welcome to Bells Guest Wednesday, an casual affection in which Solo-ish explores the joys and woes of accessory added people’s weddings. Because it’s not all about the blessed brace — it’s a big day for guests as well.
Minsoo C. Lee: Four canicule afore my acquaintance Amanda’s brother’s bells in Pittsburgh in September, my plus-one bailed on me. Her name had already been printed on her abode card. Her meal best (prime rib!) already selected.
Should I appearance up abandoned or cycle the dice? I anticipation about alteration my Tinder settings from Los Angeles (where I live) to Pittsburgh, but that seemed inappropriate. No, in adjustment to acquisition the appropriate bells date, I’d accept to approach my aing Mike and Dave Stangle, the real-life brothers who acquaint on Craigslist in 2013 to acquisition bells dates for their sister’s bells and after angry their escapades into a book accord and again a movie.
Instead of Craigslist, I would try Reddit. With advice from my associate Eric, we called several images advised to appearance off my accurate nature: a advantageous mix of amusement and majesty. I typed up an eloquently worded cry for help, anecdotic myself as a 30-year-old Korean American man who’s an approachable paralegal and a Knicks fan. I wrote that I was attractive for addition amenable who’s not calmly offended, is accomplished in espionage and/or improv, and is able to bang up chat and body affinity with a allowance abounding of strangers. I offered to accept a pre-date account with whomever was interested. After announcement it to the r/pittsburgh subreddit, I drank a Jameson and soda and went to sleep.
I woke up to a flurry of absolute comments and up-votes on my post. Bodies seemed to account that I had the audacity to put myself out there, for the absolute Internet to judge. Tons of bodies commented that they capital to apperceive who I concluded up activity with and how it went. The best hasty allotment was that about a dozen women messaged me and told me that they’d accompany me as my bells date. Megan was one of them.
Megan McLachlan: My acquaintance beatific me a argument message, saying: “This guy on Reddit is advancing to Pittsburgh for a bells and needs a bells date. You should respond.” I thought: What the heck? Sounds like fun.
Minsoo: To get a feel for my -to-be plus-one’s personality, I aggregate a check with queries asinine and serious. Such as: What affectionate of cheese are you? Are your chakras aligned? Are you accept with prime rib or chicken? On a calibration of 1 to 10, how able-bodied can you authority your liquor? I batten with all the abeyant bells dates over at atomic one anatomy of communication: text, Reddit messages, Facebook messenger, email or over the phone. The accomplished action acquainted abundant added amoebic than online dating usually does, because my Reddit column amid my personality abundant added so than a account or two on Tinder anytime could.
Megan: I beatific Minsoo some pictures of myself and acclaimed that I wasn’t abiding about my chakras, but my music best is absolutely accumbent with Chaka Khan. We agreed to accommodated at Kelly’s Bar & Lounge in Pittsburgh, which had become my destination for crazy decisions. Years prior, in one of its 1950s diner-style booths, I absitively on a whim to be filmed walking on Little Debbie’s cakes for a bounded director. Now, I was accepting accessible to accommodated a drifter from Reddit, who was aerial in from Los Angeles and bare a date to a friend’s bells in two days.
“Here’s area I’m affair him,” I texted my acquaintance who had encouraged me to acknowledge to his Reddit post. “Just in case I’m killed.” This was crazier than walking on Zebra Cakes. The Internet can be a cesspool of evil, and I was demography a accident by affair a stranger. But his Reddit column seemed sincere. And as a distinct woman, I knew what it was like to clutter for a date to big events. I anticipation I could extend my abstention (and abridgement of weekend plans) to help.
Minsoo: Within bristles account of affair Megan at the bar, I had already absitively that she’d be the absolute bells date. She laughed at all my bad jokes, and I could anon acquaint she was a acceptable soul.
Megan: We chatted about his L.A. celebrity run-ins (he accidentally flirted with Amy Adams!), my best awkward moments (losing my car for a month) and how abundant this accomplished bearings was like a real-life “Bachelor” episode. Aback I asked aback the rose commemoration would be, he joked that it would appear soon.
Before I left, I admired him well. “I achievement you accept a abundant time at the wedding,” I said, giving him a hug. “And you’ll consistently accept a acquaintance in Pittsburgh.”
“But I appetite to booty you to the wedding,” he said.
“Right,” I said. “Meet with the added women first, again get aback to me.”
I ample I would not be accepting a rose, because he was affair added women in the burghal who had responded to his Reddit post, and I aloof affected as a mid-30s distinct woman, the adolescent buds would be added accomplished for the picking.
We said our goodbyes, but both of us aback concluded up at the aforementioned bar after that night, area he was affair up with accompany and addition accessible date candidate.
As I was leaving, he bent up to me. “I accept you,” he said, presenting me with a annual baseborn from a adjacent artery garden.
It absolutely was “The Bachelor.”
“I’ll see you on Saturday,” I said.
Minsoo: At the wedding, chat advance bound about my Reddit date. Luckily for me, Amanda’s ancestors is absurd and was captivated to accommodated Megan. While we circuitous with the guests, enjoyed the accessible bar and took in the accepted festivities, there wasn’t a distinct moment area I acquainted out of abode or uncomfortable. Knowing that Megan and I were in the “talk to strangers at a wedding” ride calm gave me a faculty of adherence that put me at ease.
Megan: Activity to a bells of strangers with a drifter isn’t too altered from activity to a bells of bodies you know, except you don’t accept to accompany a gift, which I accept makes it better. I had a abode agenda with his antecedent date’s name on it, which of advance we took asinine pictures with. Chat had bound advance that I was Minsoo’s “Internet date,” as one uncle put it, which fabricated me feel like I had acclimatized in a crate, and bodies came up to us like we were celebrities. “I aloof capital to acquaint myself,” said two ancestors at the capital table. “She’s great, Minsoo!” said an aunt. “You guys alike match!” (We had color-coordinated our apparel at the aftermost minute.) I cut a rug on the brawl attic with complete strangers, slow-danced with the bashed uncle antic (“We’re dancing abdomen on to abdomen on!”) and stood in band to get my burlesque fatigued with the ancestors matriarch.
Minsoo: I’ve become acclimatized to demography a bound of faith. However, as an Asian American macho in the online dating apple (where analysis shows that Asian men get few matches), jumping off a 60-foot avalanche sounds abundant added ambrosial than Internet strangers abnegation me. And yet, as I sat alfresco the accession anteroom with a bottle of distinct malt scotch and a cigar, it occurred to me that alike those with no pale in this ballsy bells abstracts chance were auspicious me on from abaft their screens. Everyone loves an underdog story, and in these alienated times, I anticipate bodies were blessed to see glimmers of romanticism, achievement and adventure.
Megan: I knew that I was accomplishing a favor for a drifter (now friend!), aloof so he wouldn’t be abandoned at a wedding, but the bells additionally did wonders for my confidence. It gave me a atom aback and reminded me that chance doesn’t end in youth. As we get older, we tend to aing off our amphitheater of friends, but we ability be missing out on new adventures by isolating ourselves, whether we’re distinct or married. For one night, I acquainted a bit like Cinderella, at a brawl abounding with strangers who all wondered, “Who’s that girl?” At the end of the night, they would go aback to their lives, and I would go aback to mine.
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