By Heather Buchanan
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So you’re at a fabulous fundraiser or ritzy restaurant and you see someone who immediately captures your attention. Maybe there’s time for you two to get together and spend the next three hours swapping your life story, tax returns, and medical records, or perhaps you’re only left with a name and a number. While Prince Charming relied solely on shoe size, most players in the dating game are looking for a little more information about their new love interest. For better or worse the e-invasion is here and tech-savvy social sleuthers can use the World Wide Web as their own DIA, Dating Intelligence Agency.
One of the oldest tools of the trade still exists in book form, The Social Register, sometimes referred to jokingly as “the stud book.” First published in 1886, the register was considered a “visiting list” of fashionable ladies who were mostly of English or Dutch descent whose families built New York City. The list expanded to encompass other cities and now the national version is published twice a year. These are the pedigreed families but newcomers can petition the Advisory Committee with the proper recommendations, and about 5% of those who apply each year are added. While the books are only available to members, they are also available at the New York Public Library or occasionally, as are all things known to man, on eBay. What the register of 25,000 will tell you is not only a person’s family lineage, but address, educational backgrounds, and club affiliations as well as marriages, divorces, and births. There is also the summer version which includes “Dilatory Domiciles” or their summer residences including the location of their yachts.
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Oh, the horror. Where is the mystery? What became of the “getting to know you” period? If you can I.D. a guy, down to his great-great-grandfather and SSS yacht name before you get to date two, what’s left to discover: his pin number? While it’s understood that those with yachts to polish simply haven’t got time for the pain of meeting blind, the book’s inclusion ratio rivals that of hotenough.org (see our March 23rd Dish.) We suggest a well-heeled merger, but that would force the Registry to brush elbows with the 21st century. And, for the rest of us, find a good cautionary tale about the romantic sleuthing of commoners here: ‘To Google Or Not To Google.’