BOSTON, Mass. Meyer Folsom is an earnest young man with a buttoned-down demeanor that is not a handicap in his chosen profession of the law. “I like to think I’m serious in a ‘fun’ sort of way,” he says. “I take a lot of ribbing for it, but I come back with snappy one-liners whenever somebody tells a patently offensive lawyer joke and runs the risk of getting mulcted in damages,” he says with a smile.
But Folsom’s work sometimes gets in the way of his love life because young women he is attracted to are often looking for more than just a breadwinner. “One woman said I wasn’t very well-rounded, but I really have a broad range of interests,” he says as he sips on a glass of white wine at Brandy Alexander’s, a singles bar in the Back Bay neighborhood that offers Thursday night “speed-dating” events. “For instance, I’m into corporate tax, and corporate governance, and corporate securities–a real smorgasbord of possibilities!”
The hard reality of his standing in the competitive world of the Boston dating market was brought home to him two weeks ago, however, when he received the anonymous feedback from the ten women he’d had five-minute “speed dates” with the previous Thursday night. “Too corporate,” one wrote, and indeed Folsom had come to the bar directly from work and was still wearing a three-piece suit and tie. “WAY too corporate,” wrote another, noting that he’d worn his phone in a holster on his belt. “I agree with the other two,” wrote a third, who had looked on their evaluation forms to make sure she wasn’t being too harsh in her judgment.
Armed with that input, Folsom prepared himself for his next session in the methodical way he prepares for the closing of a big financing or acquisition. “I made an agenda, with major categories identified by Roman numerals, then sub-heads with capital letters, and sub-sub-heads with Arabic numbers, then . . .” he continues, before this reporter cuts him off to point out that the time to start the evening’s activities has arrived. “Wow, thanks,” he says, “I was just about to tell you about romanettes, which are cool little lower case Roman numerals.”
Folsom sits at table four, where he is opposite Jeannette Wykoff, a long-haired brunette with a quirky smile that reveals her interest in finding a man who, as she puts it, “will make me laugh.” “Hi,” she says to Folsom, “my name’s Jeanette. Tell me a little about yourself.”
“Well,” the young attorney begins, “some people criticize me for being ‘too corporate,'” he says as he makes quotation marks in the air with his fingers, “but there’s really more to me than that.”
“Do tell,” Wykoff purrs slyly as she props her chin in one hand.
“Well, for example, there are LLCs,” Folsom says.
“What’s that?” Wykoff asks.
“It’s a limited liability company, they’re really fascinating. You can divide up the equity interests and voting rights differently, which isn’t so easy to do with an old-fashioned corporation.”
“Really?” Wykoff asks, straining to stifle a yawn.
“And all the income and expenses flows through to the members.”
“They’re like shareholders.”
“I’m not sure what that means,” the young woman says, and Folsom breaches the unwritten code of etiquette that governs speed-dating by taking one of her hands in his.
“It means there’s no tax at the entity level!” he says with barely-suppressed excitement. “You don’t get hit with double taxes!”
“Wow, that’s like . . . fascinating,” Wykoff says, beginning to look around the room to see if it’s time to change partners. “Well–I, uh, don’t have anything to compare to that in my humdrum shop girl existence,” she says, hoping to run out the clock. “It’s been nice meeting you.”
“We have a minute left,” Folsom says. “Tell me something about yourself.”
“Oh, I don’t know. I like . . . music.”
“What kind of music?” Folsom asks.
“Some. I like some kinds of music,” she says, hoping to keep things vague so there’s no grip of attraction Folsom can grab on to. “I think I should go to the ladies room before my next ‘mini-date’ she says, standing up and giving him as cold a handshake as she can muster.
“I thought that went pretty well,” Folsom said to this reporter, who had been observing from a discreet distance. But he was crestfallen when, the following Monday, he received the unsigned reviews from the women he had spoken to.
“Too corporate,” read the first three that he scanned, and for once he lost his reserved manner. “I can’t believe it,” he says, exasperated. “I didn’t talk about a single corporation all night!”