The rest of us don’t have to worry about that. Unfortunately, few of us are as smooth as Beachwood’s 24-year-old “bachelor by choice.” Gralnick strolls into Caribou Coffee all wavy hair and two-day beard. Despite it being after 2 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon, he sincerely wishes me a good morning and asks how my Saturday night was. His, of course, was crazy.
He pulls out his camera and is disappointed. He’s already downloaded the pictures from last night. He doesn’t even want to tell me about it. He says I wouldn’t believe it.
But Gralnick has not hauled himself here to talk about his late-night exploits. He has real concerns. Mainly, that no one talks to one another anymore. His sister has even signed up with an online dating service. He’s disgusted.
“So many people rely on technology,” he says. “They don’t know how to meet people anymore. They want to text. They want to send Facebook messages. Technology has gone too far.”
Now, he’s on a mission to spread his alternative to online dating: talking to people in real life — like face-to-face — without e-mailing first. Gralnick says he knows that anyone over the age of 30 will laugh at his advice because it sounds so basic. Then again, if no one over the age of 30 used online dating, it wouldn’t be the industry it is today. Yes, all of us could use a refresher.
“Meeting [people] is not tough,” he says. “It’s about simple interactions, things that everyone can do: smile, make eye contact, say ‘hello,’ be kind, be sincere, be honest. But if it’s so easy, I guess more people would do it.”
And that’s why his yet-to-be-published book doesn’t belong in the self-help aisle. That’s too tame. No, this is really a full-throttle kick in the ass. Gralnick doesn’t come out and say it, but his argument goes like this: If a guy from Beachwood driving a rusted car made before Monica Lewinsky was an intern at the White House can meet women, what the hell is wrong with you?
So, I ask him to show me first-hand how it’s done. He approaches a blond woman pondering her choice of drinks. After a few minutes of talking, he walks away.
“Pink is her favorite color,” he reports. “I saw she had on a pink shirt, pink socks and a pink bracelet. I complimented her bracelet, and then we got to talking. She’s here to study.”
“But you didn’t get her phone number,” I protest.
“She’ll remember me,” he says.
“Shouldn’t we be at a bar?” I ask.
“Absolutely not,” he says. “Women know they’re going to get hit on at a bar. Who knows how many drinks she’s had? Who knows how many you’ve had? It’s just a lot more work.”
Yes, Gralnick understands that fear pushes people behind computer screens and rejection is harder to take when it’s face to face. But this isn’t asking that middle school crush to go with you; this is adulthood, damn it. Rejection is part of life.
Just like his love life, Gralnick hasn’t yet accepted an overture from a publisher that he says is interested in the book. He doesn’t love the idea of commitment. He has a wandering eye. He’s hoping to land a deal that’s a little more lucrative. He dreams of a movie someday.
Ironically, he’s been keeping people apprised of the book’s progress via a Facebook page, facebook.com/95corolla.
In the meantime, he’s already thinking about hitting the road next summer and taking his message on a cross-country trip.
“It’s trial and error,” he says of making his approach work for you. “Well, a lot of error. You have to fail and be willing to make a fool of yourself. But get used to being yourself. Never lie. And …”
“She just looked at me,” Gralnick says. “The girl in pink. She pointed to me when she left with her friend. … She’ll remember me next time.”
in the cle
12:00 AM EST
January 20, 2010