The Why Chromosome

'Gourmet' Dating Services Ponder The Missing Male

Ed Bamberger can't figure it out.

On a Thursday night, 33 members show up for a ritzy five course spread at Nana--28 women and five men. A few days later, he hosts another in a series of Single Gourmet events. This time a casual gathering for brunch draws 12 women and two lucky guys to Asian Mint.

"Men will think nothing of spending $200 or $300 on a round of golf," he says. But try dragging them to a $59 afternoon outing with a dozen females. They'd rather blow it at happy hour, chatting up the waitress. "I've advertised and you know what I get? Women. Something," he continues, "isn't working."

Bamberger's organization targets singles 30-ish to 65-ish who share an interest in restaurants and friendly discussion. However, even groups working with a younger crowd report a shortage of men. Eight at Eight, which, as the name implies, pairs up four of each sex for an evening of dinner and conversation, usually ends up with at least eight female applicants for every guy who signs up for one of their four or four dinners.

"There are a lot of girls looking," explains Anna Lentz of the local Eight at Eight chapter. "It takes guys a little more time--a little pushing."

Really? Plenty of men work the Internet dating angle. And there's no shortage on Saturday nights at Suite--so it sounds like something more than shy reluctance. I attended two recent Single Gourmet dinners and met about 40 successful, interesting and confident women. There was someone high up at a major-player advertising agency, a department head from one of the big national consulting firms, a fashion and travel photographer...If anything, it suggests some men are still threatened by anyone other than "pretty little things." Consider the Taliban, or the Southern Baptists, for that matter. On the other hand, maybe guys are simply cheap bastards.

But let's give them (including me, by the way) a little leeway. One possible reason men shrink from organized singles events could be naturally abreviated attention spans--an attribute often praised in the corporate world as being "results-oriented."

 "I think a lot of men want something instant," Bamberger says.

Another possibility? The folks who run these organizations ban uncouth behavior. Single Gourmet, in fact, has barred about sixty people for placing cell phones on the table, excessive drunkenness, spouting bad pick-up lines and other normal guy tactics. As a result, women seem perfectly comfortable at Bamberger's events--treating them as social gatherings, accumulating new friends and so forth. Perhaps the atmosphere intimidates some men.

But I would suggest, instead, that evolutionary changes have taken a toll. The advent of the metrosexual destroyed whatever was left of the old hunter-gatherer gene. Modern, post-metro men are either afraid to take advantage of a situation or--worse--fail to recognize one. I mean, a couple guys allowed to cull through 12 or so females without opposition or outside interference versus battling for elbow room to overtip a comely bartender in hopes that she'll look your direction once in awhile? Conversing with a woman whose income could fund a lifetime's worth of happy hours versus hitting on the bubbly mass comm major? It's hard to imagine the human race surviving more than a few millenia had our ancestors made such poor decisions.

Then again, maybe guys are just cheap bastards.