Hello there! My name’s Ted Pearlman.
Text Chat Gatherings for Carefully Sense-Of-Humor-Matched People
Hello there! My name’s Ted Pearlman.
I’ve had the same favorite hobby for nearly 35 years — sending groups of folks with matching senses of humor out to lunch together.
COVID forced me to put lunches on hold.
But it also presented me with the opportunity to gather people in a new, surprisingly satisfying way — through 1-day text chats.
In fact, it’s gone so well that I gave the effort a name — Sugarmaples — and its own website.
Participation is free and there’s no advertising. This is a passion project.
I love seeding friendships. I get the same kind of joy from it that a gardener gets from planting flowers.
To this end, after every chat, I privately ask each participant for feedback on their fellow chatters. If two people express mutual enthusiasm, I make sure they get invited to another chat together in the near future. And, with their permission, I give them direct messaging access to one another.
I do my best to make sure it is neither —
- I am extremely careful about who I invite to participate.
- There are no user profiles and you use only your first name.
- Because Sugarmaples is entirely event-based, there are no notifications nor interruptions. There are only event invitations, delivered without fanfare.
- If you encounter someone you don’t like, and let me know, you won’t encounter them again.
My dad gathered people with matching sense of humor at New York City Chinese restaurants, every week, for more than forty years.
In 1980, when I was 11, he started inviting me along. It had an indelible effect on me.
For me, it’s a combination of 4 things —
Who (comedians, actors, writers, etc.) makes you laugh out loud. Who seems to make everybody else laugh out loud but NOT you. How important laughing (or making others laugh) is to you. And when you think humor is inappropriate.
“Exactly what I was looking for.”
Retired Mom of Four Grown Daughters
A few months back, a participant asked me —
“If I gather up a bunch of old friends who’d like to spend more time together, can you arrange occassional 1-day chats for us?”
We tried it and it’s turned into one of my favorite things about Sugarmaples.
How is this free? Why are you really doing this? What are you trying to pull? Are you a serial killer?
Some friends have helped me organize the logistics so that I can run the whole thing myself.
If it grows to the point where I have to hire staff to keep things from flying off the rails, I’ll probably come up with some sort of premium membership plan to cover their salaries.
How will you figure out my sense of humor?
I’ll interview you over the phone. Or you can fill out a fun questionnaire I’ve created.
Why do you call this Sugarmaples?
It’s an allusion to my favorite film, The Man Who Planted Trees.
If you love uplifting stories, Academy Award winners (it received the 1988 Oscar for best animated short film), or Christopher Plummer (he played the father in The Sound of Music), you’re in for a very enjoyable 30 minutes.
How often will I receive invitations to these chats?
It all depends on how often you’d like to receive them and how many people in my quiver have senses of humor that match up with yours.
How often do I need to say ‘yes’ to the invitations to these chats?
As often or as seldom as you want.
Do I have to yammer non-stop for 24 hours straight?
Some participants spend a lot of time in each chat. And some just chime in here and there. It’s entirely up to you.
Do I have to be funny?
No. Most participants are humor consumers, not producers.
Can I control the number of notifications I get related to these chats?
Yes. You can set notifications so you never miss anything. Or you can silence them all together. Or set them somewhere in the middle.
These chats are text only? There’s no audio nor video?
If we get this pandemic under control, are you going to start organizing lunches again?
Is your dad still with us?
No. He died in 2015. Pancreatic cancer.
If you need an illustrator, hire him. Especially if you run a microbrewery.
My mom met Deena for the first time, in coach, on a transatlantic flight between New York and Berlin, in 1969.
Mom was returning home to Berlin, solo, with me in tow, after a trip to introduce the only-a-few-months-old me to family back in the States. Deena was starting a solo European vacation. I was apparently crying my head off. Deena, in the row behind us, peeped over the seat, introduced herself, and offered to rock me to sleep. My mom took her up on the offer and, as legend has it, I slept.
“What we have learned is like a handful of earth. What we have yet to learn is like the whole world.”