The Mechanical Matchmaker

I don’t agree with being “fashionably late.” Lateness is rudeness, and there is nothing fashionable about that. So when Brandon ...

I don’t agree with being “fashionably late.” Lateness is rudeness, and there is nothing fashionable about that. So when Brandon strolled into the Adams Gold Room at exactly 6:00 p.m., I fell in platonic love. The new campus networking service seemed to be pulling through—­but I still had my doubts.

We both had the same goal: “to meet and/or network with people we might not otherwise meet in the Harvard community.” There were no flowers, no first-date jitters. All I’d had to do was enter in my name, e-mail address, and House, and had set me up with the friend I had been looking for: a punctual Asian male freshman who knew how to network a girl.

Although we were catching dinner rather than lunch, the dim lighting and soft clinking of silverware failed to attribute an air of romanticism to our meeting. Sitting at a secluded table in the far end of the dining hall, he told me about the Business School events that he had been attending between bites of pad thai. Having never been an “events” person myself, I was content to simply listen, sighing gently as he slowly revealed his long, hard resume of classes and activities: Math 25, CS 61, the Harvard Financial Analysts Club.

As we transitioned from tech entrepreneurship to dining hall restrictions, we were suddenly joined by two of my friends and one of his. If I were on any other date, I would have shot our new companions a death stare for their blatant cock-blocking, or perhaps given them a relieved smile, thankful to be saved from mindless conversation. But not with Brandon, and certainly not with HarvardLunch.

Instead of discussing the long walk from the Union Dorms to Annenberg, we were now listening to my slightly drunken friend discuss how his parents chose his name—something about “vaginal forces” squeezing his head into a distorted shape. And as we were laughing, with surprisingly minimal awkwardness, I realized, this is what HarvardLunch is all about. It brought together a business-minded freshman (with, I emphasize again, a wonderful sense of punctuality), a slightly less-than-academically-minded sophomore, and a small gathering of said sophomore’s mildly inebriated friends—all for an easygoing, no-strings-attached meal.

Sometimes, when I’m lying in my bed alone late at night, I start to wonder about Brandon and where he is now. The week that has passed since our fateful first meeting now feels as though it has stretched into eternity. I can only hope that Brandon is somewhere out there, networking some other girl like he networked me.