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.

The best lunch date of my life. We were there for two-and-a-half hours but could easily have stayed for five.”

Tina Roth Eisenberg
Founder of Creative Mornings and Tattly

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.

Ted is extraordinary at what he does. And he’s a man of his word.”

Phil Caravaggio
Co-founder of Precision Nutrition

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.”

Kristin Dura
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.

It’s free.

If an eagle and a tiger had a human baby that was then raised by ninjas, it would be Ted.”

Allan Branch
Founder of Less Everything

Ping me at +1 (720) 728‑9494 or ted@sugarmapl.es and let me know you’re interested.

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?

Correct.

If we get this pandemic under control, are you going to start organizing lunches again?

Yes.

How do you currently make your living?

You can read about it on the bio page.

I love what you’re doing.”

Jason Fried
Founder of Basecamp and NY Times best-selling author of Rework, Remote and It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work

Are you hiring?

Not at the moment. If you’re interested in applying for a position down the road, text me at +1 (720) 728‑9494 or shoot me a note at ted@sugarmapl.es.

Is your dad still with us?

Dad and me in the Grunewald, near his and mom’s place in Berlin, 1969. Dad was a journalist with NBC News and we were living there so he could cover the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.

No. He died in 2015. Pancreatic cancer.

Dad, in the official garb of the jet-setting journalist, an expedition vest, during Thanksgiving weekend, 2001.

He’s looking at one of the endless, makeshift 9⁄11 memorials surrounding Ground Zero.

From the time I graduated college until his death in 2015, dad and I would regularly walk from 86th Street and Columbus Avenue, where he lived, to Battery Park, and back, a 12-mile round trip, talking the whole way.

Who created the illustration of the trees?

The amazing Howell Golson.

If you need an illustrator, hire him. Especially if you run a microbrewery.

Who created the logo?

Me. But it was a freak accident. If you’re looking for someone who knows what they’re doing, hire Matt Vergotis. He’s not cheap, but he’s really good.

What if I have more questions?

Don’t hesitate to text me at +1 (720) 728‑9494 or shoot me a note at ted@sugarmapl.es.

This project is dedicated to my late, adopted aunt, Deena Stutman, or — as my sister and I knew her when we were growing up — Aunt Silly Billy’.

She and I had nearly identical senses of humor.

Deena, holding my cousin Gary’s daughter, Carli (who’s now working on her doctorate at Columbia), 1993. Photo by Gayle Shomer.

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.

Deena, holding me in my parents’ Berlin apartment, only hours after meeting my mom for the first time, 1969. Photo by my dad.

Ping me at +1 (720) 728‑9494 or ted@sugarmapl.es and let me know you’re interested.

What we have learned is like a handful of earth. What we have yet to learn is like the whole world.”

— Avvaiyar