It’s been a long five months for Jay Ramras, the Alaskan restaurateur who moved to New York to find a Jewish bride, but after 87 first dates, twenty metrocards, and $16,250 in rent, New York’s most famously available bachelor is finally heading home to Fairbanks.
Though he’s not wearing a ring, his search has paid off: He is, to put it mildly, crazy about the woman he met two weeks ago at Barney Greengrass. “Last weekend was probably the nicest I’ve ever had in my entire life,” he kvells, adding that he plans to continue dating her from across the continent.
As he packs up his Upper West Side sublet, he’s been reflecting on the quest that, as chronicled in these pages, landed him on Good Morning America, CNBC, and Fox 5 News, as well as in People, the New York Times, and USA Today. As he says, “It’s my fifteen minutes stretched to half an hour.”
And in that short period, he took more women out than in all his previous 33 years combined. In most cases, his high profile made it easier to meet people: “They’d give me their phone numbers on the street when they recognized me.” But many times, it made the process that much harder. “Some girls really shied away from it,” he says. “They were afraid they might show up in the magazine.” And worse yet, it occasionally attracted women interested only in his celebrity: “A few, like the ‘Love Boat girl,’ were just curious to see what a guy from Alaska was like.”
Along the way, he felt like a Rorschach test for people’s perspectives on the city’s dating scene. A synagogue congregation that he addressed initially took him for a con artist, and a Yahoo! employee he dated confessed she’d sought him out just to tell him his search was futile.
For now, his only concern is preserving his relationship with that “perfect girl.” Ramras is already planning – as gingerly as possible – his first few return visits. “I’m trying not to put pressure on her,” he says sadly. “But I come with pressure.” And his friends back home are urging him on. “Cards, flowers, phone calls, letters – he has to stay on top of it,” says one. “He needs to fight.” But they may end up disappointed in another way. After all that searching for a girl willing to move to Alaska, he’s wondering if he’ll ever readjust to Fairbanks himself. “In three years,” he says, “I don’t know if I’ll be living in Alaska anymore.”