It’s ten o’clock, and Samantha Daniels has already run out of business cards. “I’ll be back in 30 seconds,” she promises a deflated bachelor. Outfitted in a pink Chanel jacket and a tight black spaghetti-strap dress, Daniels cuts determinedly across the Cipriani Wall Street dance floor. Gold bamboo chairs and banquet tables adorned with candelabra fill the cavernous hall – as do a mix of well-heeled bankers, lawyers, doctors, and fashion executives whom Daniels has spent the evening chatting up at this benefit for the Youth Renewal Fund, artfully inquiring about old relationships and flirting over innumerable Bellinis. Yes, she’s trying to score dates – but not for herself.
In a city where no one thinks twice about hiring a personal trainer, a personal chef, or a personal concierge, delegating your own social life has become inevitable. At least that’s what Daniels, 32, a former Wall Streeter and matrimonial attorney with a knack for pairing up her friends, was thinking when she quit her day job and formed Table for Two (Or More), an introductory service for the young, upwardly mobile, and time-constrained (the unlisted number is 717-6033).
Once clients shell out $1,000 for a “strategy session” and twelve introductions, Daniels gets to work perusing her database of more than 2,000 unattached New Yorkers and arranging museum outings, wine tastings, Sunday brunches, and Hamptons tennis tournaments. She goes out every night herself, to cocktail parties, art openings, benefits – any event likely to attract the caliber of guests coveted by her clientele. So far, she’s scored 26 marriages.
Tonight, at the request of two clients, Daniels is on the lookout for a “tall guy” and an “extremely beautiful girl.” After coolly surveying the crowd (“He went to HBS and works in banking. He owns his own investment company. That girl went to Duke and Columbia”), she homes in on a Daniela Pestova look-alike in a red dress. Making small talk, Daniels subtly works in that she knows someone the woman might want to meet. The blonde agrees to a date.
For the most part, though, the partygoers come to Daniels. “People get fascinated,” she says as “Disco Inferno” pounds in the background. “It doesn’t matter if they’re married or single.” A doctor, confessing that “feeling alone is natural,” hands his card to Daniels as she nods. “Why aren’t you married?” asks a suit. “I do quite well for myself, thank you,” says Daniels, who uses her single status as a selling point. “I’m living the same life they’re living,” she explains, noting that competing services are run by older people out of sync with her mostly thirtysomething clientele. “This is a very intimate business. Clients have to work with people they trust,” she says. “People tell me, ‘I want to hire you, but if you tell anyone, I’ll kill you.’ “
As the sea of suits and pashmina shawls thins out, Daniels orders a Kir Royale and surveys the remaining prospects. A girl who has just moved to the city says she’ll call. A lawyer in pinstripes asks if there is still room in her Hamptons house. There isn’t. “Too bad,” shouts a lucky bunkmate. “I get a house, and maybe a wife. It’s a two-for-one special!” Daniels shakes her head as he walks away: “He’s a talker.” Then she brightens. “He’s a good, tall guy, though.” A less enchanted neurologist mocks the idea of Daniels’s service – before sheepishly asking for her card. “They don’t always call right away,” she says with a smile. “They hold on to it until they need it.”