It’s Just (the Most Expensive) Lunch (Ever)


The last of my still-single law school girlfriends showed up for dinner this past Friday with a 1.5-carat engagement ring. Meanwhile, I’m nursing a broken heart from my most recent attempt at a relationship. I’ll also admit to re-initiating contact with an ex from my third year of law school—the former Army Ranger best remembered for his unusual enthusiasm for his Breville juicer, premature ejaculation issues and borderline antisocial personality disorder.

I spent my last five years in Chicago attempting to forge lasting (i.e.: ultimately marital) relationships with friends of friends, and I’m still totally alone. My friends have run out of single guys to introduce me to.  There’s even a running joke about the fact that I’ve dated THREE childhood friends of one of my law school classmates.

And don’t get me started on meeting a potential husband in a bar. Bars in Chicago are populated by three types: (i) snotty, preppy North Shore guys that I would rather pick a fight with than attempt to flirt; (ii) guys from the Western suburbs who all work at the Board of Trade and are not interested in committed relationships; and (iii) college kids.

That left me with few options other than the depraved world of internet dating, right?  I’d previously ruled it out as too sad or desperate. I forbid myself from Match.com on grounds that the stalker-ish ex-wife of a partner I work for (who is convinced that a mythical affair involving yours truly ended her marriage) uses the site, and I could only imagine the online smear campaign if she saw my profile.  And eHarmony is out of the question—not just because of the five million-part questionnaire, but because it seems too conservative.  (It also has some connection with Dr. Phil, whom I despise.) Finally, there’s JDate, and—what else can I say—my college boyfriend upended my need to convert to Judaism when he dumped me after graduation.

All this kept my mind returning to those It’s Just Lunch in-flight magazine ads I resorted to reading on my last flight after I abandoned whatever dep transcripts I was supposed to be reviewing.  Aside from the ridiculous name, I couldn’t help but find something a little bewitching about the concept.

The ad reiterated that the service is for “busy professionals.” Which means my excuse for resorting to such a service would presumably be my busy professional-ness—rather than the more obvious “I’m pathologically insecure!” or “I’m kind of a know-it-all!” or “I forget how to be sexy when I’m nervous!” Moreover, it seems that any man who would sign himself up for It’s Just Lunch MUST be incredibly desperate, and having that upper hand does wonders for my insecurities.

I scheduled the introductory meeting over the phone with a woman named Lizzie.  (Never mind the fact it is completely ridiculous for an adult to call herself Lizzie.) I put a depressingly large amount of effort into my appearance as I readied for the in-person meeting.  For starters, it wasn’t clear from Lizzie’s tone on the phone whether I was being invited to a sales pitch or an audition.  As a lawyer, I’m conditioned to think in terms of tiers and rankings, and I was terrified of being banished to a lower, unspoken tier in the It’s Just Lunch dating pool if I showed up looking the least bit unpolished.

The building directory ever-so-discreetly listed my destination as “IJL.” Walking into the “happy” yellow-walled lobby and blaring Frank Sinatra initially sickened me, but luckily Lizzie and her Limited Express sexy-executive pantsuit whisked me into her private office before I had time to fixate.  Her walls were adorned with framed, triumphant-looking human interest articles from a variety of second-rate publications.  Each celebrating couples who had ended up in wedded bliss after their foray into IJL.

She described the pool of “hundreds” of eligible professionals.  To illustrate, she read me the profile of a “real guy” from the dating pool: Brian—a six-foot-one, blue-eyed accountant who’s very athletic, loves live music, trying new things, and has traveled extensively in Europe.  Lizzie continued to lay it on thick about how she’d only match me up with guys whose interview answers mirrored mine, and the process will be refined over time by my preferences.  After dates, I would have to give “brutally honest feedback” to my rep, who would use the information to further refine subsequent matches.

I wouldn’t even have to share contact information or make reservations—my IJL rep will tell me when and where to go.  Reservations are always made under the first name of both parties, and I’m only expected to share my contact information if I want to see the guy again.  Oh, and I can go on as many or few dates per week as I desire.  Hilariously, even though we’re all supposed to be “professionals,” Lizzie instructed me to allow the guy to pay if they insist.

Finally, notwithstanding the name, she let me in on the little secret: Most people choose to have their dates over after-work drinks.  I guess “It’s Just a Drink at 7:30 at a Cheesy, Showy Restaurant in the Loop after Brushing Your Teeth and Putting Eyeliner on in the Office Bathroom” didn’t have the same pithy appeal.

It was as if Lizzie anticipated every question in my head and already had a neat, little answer waiting for me.  How did I ever date before this ingenious service?

I pondered whether Lizzie’s manipulative skills matched those of Charles Manson’s, or whether I’m just particularly desperate—but by the time she casually slipped in that a full year of buffet-style blind dating would cost me $1,800 (non-refundable cash or check, of course), I was pretty much convinced that there was no other rational way for me to romantically function in Chicago.

Since what I’m really looking for is a high-earner with the financial wherewithal to slip a $20,000 ring onto my left hand after a whirlwind courtship, it seemed like a reasonable price… which brings us to the present.  Me.  Still alone. $1800 poorer. But with a glimmer of hope over the countless blue-eyed European travelers I’ll soon be joining for “just lunch.”

Read Law Firm 10’s follow-up to this post, ”It Just Sucks.”

Law Firm 10 may lack the dazzling, magnetic charisma of a girl from the hottest sorority in school, but she (arguably) makes up for that with her wit, humor, and low-maintenance-ness. Read more from Law Firm 10.

49 Comments

  1. BL2Y

    March 12, 2009 at 2:34 am

    This poor beeoch should have kept the $1800 in her pocket and used it to reform her own attitude toward guys.  There is a reason she is unattached now.  It is because she thinks she is better than she actually is, as well as better than the men she dates.  I have met beeotches like this, who initially seem like a real catch, but upon closer scrutiny, reveal themselves to be head-cases.  Spending $1800 for “It’s Just Lunch” will not fix that.  What she needs is a mental makeover–retraining her to understand that a relationship is not “me, me, me” and “I’m so pretty” but rather “what about US” and how can WE improve what WE have together.  Instead this beeotch hasn’t looked at all at her own foibles, choosing instead to reconnect with other childhood faiures with ejaculatory problems.  It never seems to sink in to this beeotch that she is likely the reason her dates have all failed her.  Women like this need a wakeup call.  They should understand that the reason that their less well-endowed friends are married because they are able to compromise and live with the fact that it is all NOT about you.  This beeotch thinks she’s a 10, but in reality, she’s not.  She’s a legend in her own mind.  To men, she’s just another high maintenance whiny beeoch looking for a meal ticket.  Hardly the type of women men want for anything more than a roll in the sack, or maybe a weekend away (most of which time is spent in the sack).  After that, it’s sayonara, beeotch.

  2. Ben Dover

    March 12, 2009 at 3:09 am

    Smart comment, BL2Y, possibly the first one I have seen from you and BL1Y.

  3. Bill Dugan

    March 12, 2009 at 5:09 am

    Agree with Ben.  This woman is a mess.  She is hardly relationship, let alone, marriage material; maybe would be good for a short -term fling, but that is ABSOLUTELY ALL.

  4. BL1Y

    March 12, 2009 at 5:38 am

    I don’t get why so many people are down on meeting someone at a bar.  You know who goes to bars?  Everyone.  Maybe 30 years ago your parents would have set you up with the kid of a friend from church, but now we have bars.  Just try a few places to see what scene suits you, then if you’re at all attractive, all you really need to do is be friendly, inviting and patient.  It’s not that complicated.

  5. Anonymous

    March 12, 2009 at 5:55 am

    BL1Y, you have a lot to learn about women, generally and gold-diggers in particular.  A bar is NOT where this gold-digger will find what she is really looking for– “a high-earner with the financial wherewithal to slip a $20,000 ring onto my left hand.after a whirlwind courtship.” Is this what you and others at your corner watering hole want?  Do you have $20K to spend on a ring for this witch?  That’s just the beginning with a witch like this.  You’d be subsidizing this gold-digger for the next 20 years until she is 53, fat and ugly, when you’ll finally divorce her and pay child support for the next 10 years.  Grow up, little man!.

  6. dude2342

    March 12, 2009 at 6:12 am

    What law school did she go to? just curious u chicago northwestern??

  7. BL1Y

    March 12, 2009 at 6:26 am

    @6:55: Not all bars are dives or sports bars.  Guess who goes to them?  Men with money looking for women looking for men with money.  By the way, impressive deductive reasoning skills.  Suggesting that LF10 may be able to find a suitable guy at a bar clearly means that she is what I’m looking for.  Did you manage to get an LSAT score above room temperature?  And please, if you ever have the opportunity to engage in the mating act, learn a bit more about reproduction.  If you get together for 20 years and divorce when she’s 53 and have to support your kids for another 10 years, then she had kids at 45.  At 45 there is a high risk of complicated pregnancy and birth defect.  If you’re a 45 year old woman who’s been married for 12 years, you’re done having kids.  And PS: I don’t think I’d mind paying child support for kids I had with a wife of 20 years.  Some people actually want to be fathers to their children, especially the ones they meant to have.

  8. Rico

    March 12, 2009 at 7:06 am

    I love this chick.

  9. Blair

    March 12, 2009 at 7:21 am

    Ouch, so raw, 10.  Where did it all go wrong?

  10. Ace in the Hole

    March 12, 2009 at 7:25 am

    Spot on BL2Y.  The reason she is single is simple – attitude.  She’s a user, like a lot of modern American women, just looking for a meal ticket and not expecting to have to do much if anything in return.  She’ll stay single unless she finds a guy who can’t get laid at Girls Gone Wild convention and who’s desperate enough to do anything to nail something down.  (Of course, little will he know that she’ll start withholding within weeks of the wedding.)

  11. SDL20

    March 12, 2009 at 7:54 am

    did i just read a five minute ad for IJL?

  12. Desi

    March 12, 2009 at 8:30 am

    Disagree. Good article. LF10 rocks in my book!

  13. Alex Hump

    March 12, 2009 at 8:38 am

    Good writing.  Sounds like BL1Y is looking for a hookup with this chick. Is he rich enough for her taste, though?  LF10, please respond to BL1Y.

  14. Used It

    March 12, 2009 at 8:53 am

    IJL is, although not necessarily a “scam”, is not nearly “as advertised.”
    What usually happens is that they’ll have an imbalance in clients with too many loser guys in the pool.  Sometimes they’ll have too many girls, but rarely.  It’s usually too many loser guys (Think about it: how hard is it for hot chicks to find dates…?)
    So, typically, if they have too many loser guys, they recycle the smaller pool of loser girls over and over again, not charging them for the extra millions of dates they’re going on.  These loser girls haven’t met the (high) expectations of the guys, so they just fester in the system.  (Think about it: the great girls get snatched up almost immediately).  These “festerers” comprise about 80% of the IJL dates, so about $1200 of you money is going toward useless dates. 
    Then, to beef the pool of girls they solicit actual attractive girls who have no interest in dating for ‘staged’ dates.  The solicited girls pay nothing for the service, and do it for the free meal and just in case millionaire prince f**cking charming comes along.  Or their best friend from college runs the service.  Or whatever.
    But if you’re a guy, you don’t want either of these options: you want a hot classy chick and are thinking that for $2k you’d find her.  You won’t.  Just keep your money.  I have both tried IJL and met a girl who was a “stagee” for the service.  The chances of getting what you’re looking for a no better than going to a happy hour and bumping in to someone or having friends set you up.
    Which brings up another point: if a legitimate girl is reasonably attractive, she or he only pays like $100 – $500.  They don’t tell you this, obviously, but without eligible maidens the whole things implodes.
    Oh, and they say it’s just for “professionals” which means, evidently, anything from college drop-outs to secretaries to mail-room guys.  Seriously.  Nobody is turned away for lack of profession.  Not that there aren’t professionals in the program—there are many.  There’s just no minimum criteria for admission.

  15. Craig

    March 12, 2009 at 9:22 am

    I got a little too heated yesterday. I had class all day and was taking out my extreme boredom on you guys. In an effort to mend fences, I think everyone here will get a good laugh at this website if you have not already discovered it … fmylife.com …

  16. Al Veoli

    March 12, 2009 at 11:13 am

    These lunch things are a scam.  I had a lunch date once with a woman who looked like a double wide trailer.  I think she said she worked in a bakery, but was a professional diner.  All she did was eat, from the moment we sat down to the moment they shoveled her out of the place.  She ate 2 bread baskets, a bowl of clam chowder, AND a SHRIMP COCKTAIL appetizer, AND a BIG salad, AND some oyesters on the half shell, a NY Strip Steak, POTATOES, ASPARAGUS, AND, a tiearamasu, 3 cups of coffee, AND an ice cream parfait, AND 3 bottles of Amstel LIGHT (HA), and then she had to go to the bathroom 3 times (to empty out, no doubt).
    When we left, the waiter was very happy.  The tip I gave him is more than the normal price of a lunch for me.  I couldn’t care less about the money, but after we left, the woman said, “:what are you doing for dinner?” I couldn’t believe it!  If I ate all that, I wouldn’t be able to move.  But not her.  She was ready to put the feed bag on.  If I were interested in her I might have followed up, but I couldn’t get her to say much about herself since she was so busy stuffing her face all thru lunch.  I wouldn’t want to be around when she finally had to go to the dumper.

  17. BL1Y

    March 12, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    In her defense, Amstel only comes in Light.

  18. Bill Dugan

    March 12, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    Poor Al, he got hammered by some hideous man-eater.  I would have loved to see the look on his face when that pig wanted to go to out dinner that night with him.  That reminds me of the Chase Bank commercial on TV, but at least that broad was cute, and there seemed to be some possibility of after dinner “dessert action” at her place!

  19. Alan

    March 12, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    Simon Cowell never apologizes……CRAIG

  20. Anonymous

    March 13, 2009 at 2:08 am

    Alan, you are a pecker-licker.  Man-up dbag!

  21. Headhunter 10

    March 13, 2009 at 5:28 am

    Screw Lunch. Or after Work Drinks at 7:30. Date me, I’m a blue-eyed european traveler opera singer headhunter with a pathological gym addiction, and I LOVE know-it-alls. you’re perfect. Lunch?

  22. Al Veoli

    March 13, 2009 at 6:55 am

    Headhunter 10—but do you have the wherewithal to provide this beeotch with a $20,000 diamond ring?  I think not.  Without the bucks, forget it.

  23. Ace in the Hole

    March 13, 2009 at 7:06 am

    Used It, that’s classic – it seems LF10 is not nearly the catch/beauty she thinks she is, given that she paid full price…

  24. Headhunter 10

    March 13, 2009 at 7:08 am

    Al Violi, you clearly have no concept of how lucrative the headhunting business. 20K is about a 10th of my net on a partner placement. The question isn’t the wherewithall, it’s whether or not we click. After all, it’s just lunch…..

  25. Headhunter 10

    March 13, 2009 at 7:19 am

    Although clearly I DON’T have the wherewithal to spell. Al VEoli. Forgive me friend.

  26. Al Veoli

    March 13, 2009 at 11:04 am

    Headhunter 10—you shouldn’t need a whiny know it all beeotch that’s looking for a meal ticket.  She’s no 10, believe me, as Ace in the Hole said.  If she was, they would have let her in cheap or for free.  I think she’s probably one of your standard 4th year associates, with an ever-widening ass brought about by long hours reviewing documents and eating take-out.  She’d trade that in an instant for giving you what you need head to toe—if you really can support her in the life style which she wants.

  27. Headhunter 10

    March 13, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    You’re probably right Al Veoli, but you never know til you give it the old college try. I like to keep things optimistic. It’s how we’ve navigated the economical doom and gloom, why should dating be any different.

  28. NonLaywer

    March 13, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    I just read your other artice about “how to lose a non-lawyer boyfriend” and I’m wondering what it is about you that makes it so difficult for you to find a date/keep a relationship. By my judgement, you’re a successful lawyer, probably make a good salary, you’re witty (at least when you write), and you imply that you care about your appearance. But you remain single? As you said, maybe it’s because you’re pathelogically insecure? Who knows….I would think you have reason to be confident but maybe there’s something you’re not saying that is the real reason you can’t find the “blue eyed European traveler” you’re looking for….haha…that just feels lame to write. Oh, poor girl.

  29. Anonymous

    March 14, 2009 at 5:42 am

    Maybe she can’t find someone who cares for her as much as she does for herself. Or better yet, does she give said guys the chance to do so.

  30. BL1Y

    March 14, 2009 at 7:50 am

    She uses her identity of a troubled professional woman as an excuse not to work on actually improving her attitude.

  31. Nah

    March 14, 2009 at 9:26 am

    She can’t find someone because as she says in her last piece, for her, dating is really a game of “make me a millionaire stay at home mom.” Unless you’re (a) very cool, (b) a tiger in the sack, and (c) actually hot, which we’ve established here she most likely really isn’t, most guys who could make this deal will have no interest.

  32. Ben Dover

    March 15, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    This woman needs to get laid, bad.  I think if someone gives it to her, she will have a change of attitude toward men.  So my advice to her is to let it happen and see what it does for her attitude.

  33. Anon

    March 16, 2009 at 8:08 am

    Ben Dover: Great post, dude.  Witty and funny.  And the whole ben dover thing… Genius.  You should be on TV.

  34. bd

    March 20, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    Wait until you see the guys they fix you up with.  I did this for a few months in 2005 (when I was “taking a break” from my current BF – we are now engaged) and I racked up a lot of winners:
    1) 7 foot tall Egyptian guy who seemed to be an arms dealer
    2) Tiny, profane Italian guy – another lawyer – who visibly groaned when he saw me taller than him – we had a good laugh and then got wasted and bitched about the service
    3) Unemployed guy (they are not supposed to be unemnployed!)
    4) Cute, well-dressed hip homeowner with good job who said all the right things but at the end of the night did not ask for my info, said goodbye and slipped away (he was the first one, so I think they hired him as the come-on guy)
    5) Another lawyer – decided we were perfect for each other on first meeting, talked about discovery entire date, groped and slobbered at me in the car, paid for obscenely expensive dinner on 2nd date and then became infuriated because there was no sex (it was the second date!)
    There were more.,
    I got back together with my good BF.
    Good luck.

  35. bd

    March 20, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    And her name isn’t really Lizzie.
    And she will call you day and night, at home and at work, if you cancel.

  36. First Year

    March 24, 2009 at 4:57 am

    I tried this service in Atlanta, where the ratio of women to men is about 5:1.  After you factor in the number of homosexual males, married men, generally unattractive men, short men, players, etc., the ration is about 10:1.  Then, you have to take into consideration the remaining guys odds… In Atlanta, if you have a car, a job, or a house, you are considered in the upper echelon of men here.  If you have more than 1 of the above, women downright throw themselves at you. 
    Anyway, I’ve been on two “dates,” if you really want to call it that.  The first guy was WAY off from what I asked for – he was a short, nerdy engineer who had nothing to talk about except ultimate fighting.  The second guy was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed dentist (I prefer dark features) who showed up on crutches and wanted to talk about teeth the whole time. 
    The “matchmakers” are way off and don’t even live in Atlanta.  The person I met face-to-face here was “really surprised” I didn’t like the guys they picked for me.  Really?  I asked for someone with dark features who was intelligent and very outgoing.  Uh… where’s the surprise, here? 
    Thankfully, I got the “young professionals” discount, so I didn’t pay nearly as much as Law Firm 10, but still.  What a joke.

  37. Anonymous

    March 24, 2009 at 6:42 am

    These chicks are too picky.  They think because they are lawyers that men should all be Patrick Dempsey.  It don’t work that way.  You guys aren’t Ellen Pompeo’s either.

  38. Me

    March 24, 2009 at 10:40 am

    1.5…TINY!

  39. First Year

    March 24, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    First, Patrick Dempsey is not attractive.  Second, Ellen Pompeo is not attractive.  Third, it’s not even about being “too picky.” I don’t require the guys I date to be a “10” on the hotness scale.  I just prefer a “professional” who has something going for him other than the fact that he had the money to pay for the service.  If all you do is work and watch UFC, we have nothing in common.  I gave IJL a long list of activities I like to do and hobbies I have, and all you need is to share one of those.  I mean, how hard is it to find a guy who likes to watch football or go to Dave and Buster’s?

  40. Anonymous

    March 26, 2009 at 5:59 am

    If you’re a girl that likes to drink, watch football and have sex, you’d have a lot of dates.

  41. Jenni

    March 26, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    On the contrary, Patrick Dempsey is hot – very hot and I can attest to that as I have seen him in person and not that anyone cares but he actually smiled at me as we passed. And I am not even a fan, but the man is hot. I think what women really want is atleast a decent looking man (maybe a 7 or 8) with really great qualities that they can trust and respect.

  42. Anonymous

    March 26, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    And what a man wants is a woman who knows when to shut her mouth, and when to open her mouth in order to keep her man happy.

  43. Disgusted in DC

    March 28, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    My whole dating life is an exercise in avoiding people like LF10. Maybe one should not judge based on a few articles, but the person that comes through in these posts is someone who’s so fundamentally focused on shallow, empty things that it scares me a little to think that some poor bastard may end up with her some day.
    MBA, attractive, professional, capable of buying a big ring… all good things no doubt. How sad that those seem to be the only things you care about. I am sure that’s not true, but it is beyond obvious that these things matter the most to you. What does that say about you?
    Attorney, cross examine thyself

  44. fan22

    March 31, 2009 at 7:16 am

    LF10 is my girl you rock it

  45. Mildly Entertained

    June 11, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    Your column makes me laugh.

    I see why you’re still alone. :]

  46. Roger Roger

    May 29, 2013 at 10:30 am

    I know you wrote this a long time ago, but a friend has REALLY been pushing me to try ‘It’s Just Lunch’ because I live in a creepy university town where everyone is already married and pushing those giant SUV strollers around town. It’s like if the Stepford Wives make their own pickles and granola and did yoga and some shit. Your review (and description of The Horror of IJL) made me feel way better about resisting. I don’t know if your dating life has improved subsequently, but, you have my sympathies.

  47. Ryan

    July 16, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    After reading several of this author’s posts, I have come to one definitive conclusion: I don’t think she’s as hot as she thinks she is.

  48. Samanth

    October 29, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    Its Just Lunch is the biggest scam around. They promise that there are hundreds of men who fit your criteria when in fact, they only have a handful of losers. Why bother going through all of your preferences with the company because they only set up dates with whomever they have available, which are very few candidates. Date #1 appeared to be a nice guy who I am sure was a set-up. Everything went well until I find out that he refuses to date anyone who has ever been married before! He had that on his preferences and IJL knew that I had been previously married. Well, that ended in heart break. They just say that they are sorry for the oversight. Date #2 A 300 lb guy who was from an ethnic category that I had said that I was not attracted to. Nice guy but come on!! Date #3 The guy never showed up. Date #4 No show date again. I was furious! I called IJL and complained that these guys were not showing up. They stated that it wasn’t their fault if the guy doesn’t show. I asked if they made reminder calls and they said NO. Only send an email and they assume the date is okay with both parties. Absolutely crazy. They guarantee 3 months and guess what? When 3 months was up….my membership was over. I never ever really got an acceptable date. BEWARE!! Don’t lose thousands of dollars on this scam of a company.

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