Life pondering pic by Caroline Owens
A couple of months ago I received an email from a young woman named Emily Holmes Hahn, inviting me to try out her matchmaking service.
Delete. To my defense, I had recently been approached by Ashley Madison, i.e. the homewrecking service of all sins, with an offer to participate in their so-called “rebranding efforts.” Spam mode was ON – there was no way I was going to get sucked into some weird Patti Stanger predicament!
Emily reached out again. This time, I read her spiel: she, too, was former Parisian expat who had worked in fashion; she liked Dbag Dating and wanted to chat. At the bottom of the email were press links to publications such as WWD describing her matchmaking service, Last First, as the “matchmaker to New York’s creative and fashion elite.” The articles also noted that, in recent years, matchmaking had replaced dating apps as the meeting method de rigueur, with fatigued singles seeking the aid of seasoned pros to connect them with potential life partners. I felt as passé as a fashion blogger who had just been informed that she was still wearing skinny jeans while all the cool kids had long ago switched to mom denim. I had to catch up!
I met Emily for a coffee at the Beekman. This was certainly no Patti Stanger: Emily was very petite and very pretty and looked a bit like a porcelain doll – that is, until she started speaking and I instantly realized that she knew her sh*t. Instead of using her Parisian stint to blog about bad dating, she had applied her luxury experience to create Last First (like “last first date”, get it?) and now has a portfolio of eligible bachelors paying five-figure fees for 18 months of bespoke haute de gamme matchmaking. She noted that most of the guys were a bit older – but, unlike Manhattan’s mid-30s nomads, they were all “marriage-minded individuals” looking to settle down.
The whole time she was talking, I couldn’t help but stare at the ginormous engagement ring adorning her hand.
“So, how did you meet your fiancé?” (Had she snatched up one of these “marriage-minded” clients for herself?)
She told me that she had met him at a bar. Hmm, interesting. Nonetheless, I agreed to give it a try, if not for my sake than for that of the bright future of my single girlfriends, who all received a mass alert with Emily’s business card immediately after the meeting.
A few days later, I headed to the Last First Flatiron office to be interviewed by Emily and her team of cupids. It felt like a hybrid of a physical, therapy and 36 Questions to Fall in Love – perfect for a compulsive oversharer like myself. After I was done fessing up to everything from my dietary restrictions (zilch) to my relationship with my parents (perfect-ish), I felt like these girls had seen deep inside my soul. If they couldn’t find me a perfect match, nobody could!
After the interview, I asked Emily what kind of man she thought I needed. She said that, while I am good at projecting a confident front, I have a certain “sweet, nervous energy” that suggests that I am in need of a take-charge Alpha. It sounded kind of antifeminist but I kind of agreed. In a way, it was nice to have somebody overseeing my love life, almost like having a personal trainer whipping me into shape. Suddenly, my struggles were no longer just my own, but our collective burden, which made them somewhat easier to carry!
That evening, I received my description, i.e. the sales pitch that would be circulated to my potential soulmates:
Marina is 5’5” and slender, an exotic and beautiful 30-year-old with steely gray eyes and shiny brown hair. Alongside her older brother, she was born and raised in St. Petersburg in a loving and supportive household. Growing up she traveled often, read every book she could, learned French and English at a young age, and thus began to develop the worldliness that characterizes her today. After earning an undergraduate degree in New York and a fashion Master’s in Paris, Marina began working for luxury brands until she found her true calling as a writer, specifically focused on fashion, beauty, and occasionally, dating! She is passionate about her work, and being her own boss has allowed her to maintain an amazing quality of life. She loves seeking spontaneous adventure  and she told us that her favorite vacation is “anywhere she has never been.” Marina is whip-smart and sarcastic with a wry sense of humor, and she always stays up to date with current events. She can often be found walking around the city (she’s a Parisienne at heart!), attending plays both on and off-Broadway, spending time with family or brunching with great friends and a glass of wine. She has an active lifestyle, and stays fit with yoga, running, tennis and snowboarding. Marina is spontaneous and free-spirited, with a true joie de vivre. She is looking for an extraordinary person with whom to start her family. Her ideal match is someone ultra-secure, stable, intelligent, with a great sense of humor.
 I love you Emily!  My hair is shiny?!  Thank you mom and dad for not f*cking up my credentials with a divorce!  Wow I sound like a wunderkind – perfect for procreation!  This is called SUBTLETY people. Take note!  Hahahhaha I almost cried at this one. While reusing the same teabag for the 3rd time – because, economy.  No, she actually just doesn’t know the meaning of the words “grounded” and “responsibly” but okie.  Well, our current events require a sense of humor – because, Trump.  Nah, she is just too cheap for cabs.  Correction: bottle of wine.
Elated, I forwarded a screen shot of this marketing masterpiece to my family chat. They all pretended not to know who this person was but agreed that she sounded phenomenal.
One week later, Emily emailed me to inform me that she had found my first match. His description read like the product listing of my Dream Ken Doll, including the fact that he was Russian! (Needless to say, that was a screen shot my mom was happy about.) Emily coordinated our (last?) first date at Bar Fortuna the following Friday.
Prior to the date, she sent me two documents entitled the “Last First Code of Conduct”. I have official permission to bestow them upon my readers, so savor with pleasure.
Female code of conduct:
Client code of conduct:
Emily explained that the codes were derived from past experiences and common mistakes, immediately evoking the image of a poorly dressed schmuck loudly disputing the bill. Rather than being used literally, they were simply a “stamp of formality” meant to keep people in check. In a world where dating no longer knows any rules, I could definitely see the point.
I did not lay out my outfit the night before, so at 6pm on Friday I was standing in front of my closet, frantically deciding what to wear. After all, this guy was paying half of my annual salary for the opportunity to meet me (me!) – I had to step it up! A creature of (boring) habit, I finally went for black jeans and the same black Maiyet top that had gotten me through every first date in the past eighteen months. Having received no chauffeur offers, I took the subway.
I would love to give you a minute-by-minute recount of how the date went but, alas, some things are off-limits and I am a woman of my word. All I can say is that it was a great date with a person I normally would not have gone out with, but who is far, far closer to the person I should be dating. As in, I could pluck him out of Bar Fortuna and place him at my family dinner and he would integrate. Unfortunately, he is not the man for me, for reasons linked to instinct rather than facts.
Emily called the next morning for feedback exchange. It turned out that I had passed with flying colors, if you don’t count the fact that I had come across as jaded. I told her that my last boyfriend had broken up with me on Valentine’s Day and she quickly let it go. (Works every time, try it! You can get away with murder!)
I never went on a second date with the Russian, or any other Last First date, for that matter. Real Life got in the way, but there was also something else. You see, as confident as I am in Emily’s ability to find me a viable life companion (in fact, she is already halfway there with one of my friends), I’m not sure if I want her to. Just like I had never allowed my parents to tell me what school to go to or what to major in, I am too inherently stubborn for handholding. At the end of the day, I just want to make my own mistakes – and you can bet five figures that I will.
As for the rest of you, you should email Emily.