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Miss Pivot: Joan of Arc to Naptown singles

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Just after dusk on a recent Thursday night, I found myself standing outside of Landsharks in Broad Ripple, preparing to interview for a spot on an elite team of dating-savvy broads. Miss Pivot, an Indianapolis-based social consulting firm, is looking to expand its army of Pivot Girls. My recruited partner in crime, Anna, had already suggested several times that we ditch the event altogether. Surely nursing beers at Plump’s takes priority over mocking the socially inept. Though we had no interest in actually becoming trained wingladies, our smirking dismissal would soon be replaced by a sheepish desire to learn more.

This evening’s venture was inspired by a Craig’s List tip, an ad titled “Serious, unique opportunity for fun outgoing females” — the aforementioned Pivot Girls. Launched in September of last year, Miss Pivot trains some of the most hopeless cases in the art of dating using proven theories of non-verbal communication. Undercover consultants accompany these men and women out on the town, instructing them in the wild. Through continued coaching, clients have demonstrated remarkable progress in social competence.

I’ll admit, upon first glance I found the very idea of the company laughable. This is not to say that I am by any means dating-adept — quite the contrary, considering my track record. The subject of many a contemptuous Times article, my generation can list among its faults an impotence in forming lasting romantic relationships. We’ve apparently got it easy, however, compared to Miss Pivot’s clientele.

My cohort and I settled down at the bar and looked over the supplied application. “Please list any relevant skills and proficiencies.” After making the obligatory jokes about our sexual prowess, we floundered. We wanted to wow these guys, but how does one tactfully phrase “not cripplingly awkward” in job-seeking terms?

It wasn’t long before the interview was upon us. Truthfully, as I listened to the charming, lisping Josh explain the principles of social coaching, I began to reconsider the seemingly sordid endeavor in a more altruistic light. However skeptical at the start, I was rapidly becoming a Miss Pivot convert.

The science of it is simple enough: As social creatures, we should naturally possess the appropriate sensibilities for interpreting signals from the target sex. But what about those who sincerely lack such capabilities? Blame unlucky genetics, overzealous parenting or the isolating ubiquity of the Internet; whatever the underlying cause, there are some poor schmucks among us who need a little help to seal the deal.

And maybe “schmuck” is a tad harsh. Landing in the underwhelming slot #31 on Forbes.com’s 2009 “Best Cities for Singles” list, Indianapolis doesn’t have the greatest prospects to begin with. Further, I’m confident that even the most self-assured has questioned his or her own skills after less-than-warm reception on the bar scene. We could all probably use a little sensitivity training when it comes to understanding the give-and-take of relationships. If imitating best practices of Jersey Shore fails us, what’s left but established scientific theory?

So now I wait, with bated breath, to hear back from Miss Pivot regarding potential employment. While I agonize, sitting by a silent phone like so many of my fellow singles, I encourage you to check out her services for yourself (http://misspivot.com). For all we know, social consulting might very well be the saving grace for a generation otherwise doomed to fruitless Poking.

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