I started preparing for an event at which I could possibly meet my future spouse in the most time-tested way: Beginning several days beforehand with a classic case of PMS including light depression that spelled almost certain doom for humanity in general, achiness, fatigue, breakouts, requisite seemingly famish-driven consumption of ill-advised foodstuffs and accompanying multi-pound weight gain, and low-grade headache which resembled toting a 20-pound bowling ball around on my neck (with equal cognitive powers).
By the morning of the event, I rose to repeated proddings by my son to confront a massive pimple which subsequently burst and oozed all over my face, and my period had started. The scene was set for much jollity. Also I still hadn’t decided what to wear.
I had signed up for this muslim singles event some weeks prior. It seemed the logical thing to do. I had been perusing the market for several years without success, and there’s something about hitting 30 that makes you wonder why you haven’t gotten certain things in order, like a husband and a homestead. Especially if you’ve already got a kid and an imploded disastrous marriage in the past. There was a time when finding a man to share my life seemed like a necessity, a romantic longing, without which I couldn’t fathom completeness. This is no longer the case and it hasn’t been for a while. Maybe it’s because I don’t get very many minutes to myself to fantasize :P. Now, it’s just practical. At this point I sometimes find myself wondering aloud WHY guys even want to get married? I can see the advantages for me of course, but not as much for them. Then I have to remind myself that venturing slightly back in the romantic thinking direction would not be entirely amiss because if I can’t think of any reason a guy would want to marry me, neither will he be able to :P.
In all seriousness, I realize on another level this is me having adopted of level of jadedness and skepticism as seeming protection for getting into another awful relationship, and that it’s not productive. And that while I can live without being married if it’s never meant to be, and no relationship is FAR better than a bad one, it would be nice to have someone to share life even outside of the practical day-to-day aspects of not having to do everything myself. Kids are wonderful. I love love love being a mother. But it is not the same *kind* of appreciation, love, and support you get from a spouse (or so I imagine, in the sort of marriage I imagine existing in some dimension).
So, since I’ve been bewailing the complete lack of any such resources in the community, and “larger community” of the internet route has been quite disheartening, when I saw this event advertised by a local mosque the choice was completely clear. I could hardly hope and pray for a spouse and at the same time refuse this opportunity while thinking I might instead randomly bump into the man who is not of my nightmares while doing a hurried and confused grocery shopping expedition. I signed up.
Researching the Event
I had absolutely no idea what to expect going into this event. This is one of the reasons I decided to write this post. I looked online of course for descriptions of similar events, of which there seem to be quite a few outside of my area, but found little information, and what I did find served to increase more than alleviate my nervousness. The most common format I heard described in either muslim or non-muslim circles seemed to be of the sort where you rotated around the room spending a certain amount of time with each person of the opposite sex, or at least each within the categories that applied.
The event registration asked for basic details about myself as well as who I was looking for, similar to what you might fill out for an online matrimonials profile: age range, beliefs, previously married or not, kids, etc. The registration only allowed 15 minutes or so to complete the entry form before you had to start over to release the slot, and considering my methodical approach to such things this was scarcely enough time, so I ended up picking some choices towards the end that I immediately began to second-guess after the die was cast. I have a hard time making decisions, especially under time constraints. Such as standing in the store with between 3 and 30 varieties of toothpaste trying to remember which variation I bought last time and which ones made me gag. (In these scenarios, my son is helpful in getting me moving again because he doesn’t want to park in one place sitting in the cart for two long. He reminds me that I need to stop thinking. In the absence of such prompts it’s possible for me to wander around stores for hours in a daze. This is additionally complicated by not sticking to my list, remembering items not on my list or recreating the list if I forgot it, or trying to find my vehicle again. This is undoubtedly why people hate to shop for anything with me and also why I hate to shop alone :P).
Anyway, the descriptions of similar events online were not encouraging. I panicked about making small talk, one of my most glaring deficits. Also, about remembering what questions to ask (I already had a list due to the previous attempts at finding someone online, but, it’s possible to be a lot more blunt online which is more my forte. Sometimes jumping into the most basic questions face to face seems to be a little off-putting). Also, I was worried about being able to remember who was who in the event of being introduced to one person after another. Since I have prosopagnosia, entering a room full of people I don’t know and being expected to make connections with them and remember who was who later is quite daunting. I prepared to carry a notebook to record names and critical data. This seems to disturb people at times, but making descriptions of people’s characteristics and small notes about them is one of the more successful methods I have of keeping them straight. I have a whole index at work. However, I usually record it on my computer after the fact or when I’m pretending to take relevant notes at meetings.
The Actual Event
As it turned out, I needn’t have worried quite so much (as usual) and I didn’t even need to pull out my notebook. Rather than give a complete breakdown of the entire event, I thought I would mention some things that went well and some things that did not go so well, as a guideline for those both considering attending or considering hosting such an event. I think we undoubtedly need more in the muslim community. At the very least the proliferation of online services underscores this need, even if other communities aren’t quite as disconnected as mine.
Arriving on time: I’m notorious about being late for things, but for special occasions I do a lot of advance planning to make sure I’m on time. Especially if the people don’t already know me. Of course, the people I know in some case consider it insulting that they don’t get more special effort about this, but realistically, I see them more often so I simply try to avoid setting such strict expectations. For people who don’t know me as well who are setting the times themselves, it’s better to have some things planned in advance. This may have been drummed into me by a growing up in a family where everyone else runs on a different, united, time-table than I’m capable of, or maybe not since I’ve never adapted to suit them.
Another reason I tend to make special plans is because I have a terrible sense of direction and frequently get lost or can’t find places. This may be related to the prosopagnosia, I have read that it frequently occurs in conjunction with “location agnosia” or basically a difficulty navigating and getting lost easily. I often feel that I travel in a sort of fog, I remember snapshots of places I’ve been but I can’t remember how to put them together, or even mentally follow the path from one place to another. It frequently amazes me when I make it home again after driving in unfamiliar areas. At any rate, I always prepare by looking things up online in advance, often using more than one map service to compare directions. I print them or write them if necessary (writing things down helps me remember them even if I don’t refer to what I’ve written). If time allows, I may even drive to wear I’m going days or hours in advances to imprint the location on my mind. Then, even if I get completely lost I seem to somehow unconsciously manage to connect one place to another, or at least know when I get there. This seems to be a subconscious aspect that guides me at all when I do get lost, because frequently I couldn’t explain how I got somewhere, and can be completely confused while driving only to realize I’m there. I also carry a proliferation of maps in my vehicle, which used to be the only option before online directions became common, and I stop and study them if necessary.
In this particular case, the location was an area that I was very familiar with, so I knew how to get there already. I still looked up the directions and used google street view to be sure, and allowed extra time. I arrived considerably early, and cruised around for a while before parking to kill time. In fact, I went to a nearby business and used the bathroom, to improve my preparation even more.
I mention all this because nearly half the participants showed up late, some of them EXTREMELY late. Most of the ones who showed up late were guys. Considering the nature of the event, this doesn’t really make a good impression nor does it allow you to get the most out of the event.
Hosting: The event was primarily hosted by two married women who acknowledge the lack of opportunities in the area due to the trouble they’d had themselves, which was a very personable touch. There was also a man assisting in hosting and possibly some others assisting. The whole event had a casual yet professional feel, genuine, not formal or removed or business like. I think the hosts did an excellent job actually. They put people at ease, and they also participated in the group activities, which I think helped to get the ball rolling and stay on track. They hosted the event in conjunction with some area masjids (this is how I found out about it) and also recruited a speaker from one of the masjids to come to the event. The location was at a community center, a comfortable location, not congested, easy to find parking, easy walking distance from a nearby park, cafes, etc which was convenient. It also meant meeting rooms, etc were already set up. They also provided refreshments which were available at all times and consisted of real food, which I gave them points for.
Attendance: I was surprised at how few people attended. This is a serious need in the community that I have heard MANY people complain about. I didn’t take a headcount (I was resisting the need to pull out my notebook under the circumstances). There were maybe 11-13 women and 6-7 guys participating (numbers are fuzzy, because there were a fair number of people involved in the hosting or simply participating for unclear reasons to add to the mix, that is, they were there and friends of the hosts and they took part but were not looking for a spouse). It was evident that the hosts had heavily recruited friends, relatives, and acquaintances to attend. You might be surprised that I don’t think this was a bad thing, even the additional ‘friends’ who were included who were not looking for anybody. Perhaps once you established a routine event or got something so popular that you were having trouble with space, this would not be necessary, however, as it was I think it was a good thing, and I also think having the hosts ‘participate’ in activities was a good thing. For one thing, this seeded the pot in a way. The sheer body count added, even if they weren’t “available” seeing additional members of your same sex in the room makes you feel less isolated. They also were engage and participatory in the activities and seemed interested and happy to be there. Unfortunately this was more than could be said for some of the actual attendees (getting to that). However, having that enthusiastic and positive attitude from people in the room, even if they weren’t looking for a spouse themselves, definitely helped the atmosphere a lot.
Demographics: The obvious problem with the demographics was that there were nearly twice as many women as men. I’m not entirely sure why this is. One factor, which the imam who spoke at the event touched on, may be that muslim men are able to marry christian or jewish women as well. However, I actually don’t know how prevalent that is in this area. Most men I’ve heard or read express an opinion on this say they would prefer to marry within the faith, but considering the lack of marital options apparent perhaps they simply end up going with whom they meet. In fact I’m aware some women make this choice too. I would have thought personally that it would be easier for men in the US here, in a large city with a noticeable Muslim population, to find a spouse. My reasoning here was that it tends to be easier to spot muslim women by their clothing, if they so choose. Whereas it’s practically impossible to spot muslim men unless they “out” themselves in some way. (If anyone reading this thinks they can “spot” muslims reliably outside of hijab, then I highly encourage you to visit the amusing site http://muslimswearingthings.tumblr.com. Sadly it hasn’t been updated recently, but still provides a wealth of examples.)
This event highlighted some facts about this whole problem though. For one thing, I was one of only a handful of women wearing hijab at the event (at least one of whom wasn’t actually enrolled to look for a spouse). The majority were not, and in fact this reminded me that there is probably an even bigger “invisible” muslim woman population than is at first apparent. These women of course, are just as unidentifiable as a muslim man to the layperson. For some, male and female, this may be part of the reason they are incognito, as a means of protection. Being singled out as muslim is not always a comfortable experience. Unfortunately it also has negatives when it comes to meeting others of the same faith, especially in terms of marriage, because nobody knows who anybody else is. I have met a number of non-hijab wearing women only because they approached me, since they could tell I was muslim, whereas I would never have known that they were. But, it would be inauthentic to adopt it simply as a signal for a mate.
So what is left? Is this why there is a rise in “muslimwear” tee-shirts with clever slogans? Doesn’t seem so strange now, does it. At any rate, the fact that it’s very hard to tell who else is muslim, despite what non-muslims may think, was completely underscored by the attendees to this event, both male and female. And if you’re looking to marry within the faith, this is a big problem. A big, big problem. Clothing seems to be the most popular way to remedy this situation in multiple faiths, be it wearing a cross, some type of head covering (not limited to Islam, people, it has adherents in Christianity, Judaism, and Sikhism, and many other religions as well), or some other sort of jewelry or accessory. The other day I read an article that atheists have begun adopting a “Scarlet letter A” as a signal to identify others. Setting aside the whole adultery issue (yes, I’ve read the book… and if you haven’t read it but only heard about it, you may be very surprised at the actual attitude of the characters! It’s not a bad read), I have to say that most of the atheists I know would be completely contemptuous of adopting a letter or any other type of symbolism to flag themselves. And I know a lot of them. So who knows how far that “trend” will actually go.
In terms of attendance of the event, I can only assume that more advertising is the best solution here. Certainly, there is a need. I don’t think the lack of attendance contradicts that. However, the lack of precedent may make people hesitant to be the first guinea pigs. Not everyone takes the same approach as I do to trying new things that they expect might go badly. In fact, sometimes the very fact that things will probably turn out badly leads me to try them, provided the consequences are not too high, simply for the novelty. I don’t’ think I’m the only one, when you think about stuff like turkey flavored soda. Yes, I’ve tried it. Does anybody buy it because they think they will like it? I highly doubt it. And yet, I’m not the only one who has tried it.
Yet, I also realize that the turkey soda drinkers of the world are not the majority. Especially when it comes to things decidedly less trivial, such as opening yourself up to not just the relationship, but the fact that you aren’t married and you want to be and whatever you’re doing isn’t working because here you are at a singles event. This is the kind of viewpoint people have about these things: It’s a sign of desperation. I would also like to counteract that, however. Instead, this is a sign not that what you’re doing isn’t working (this is equally true if you sit home and twiddle your thumbs while saying, “I could get a girl if I WANTED to but I have STANDARDS blah blah blah”) but a sign that you actually are putting some effort and seriousness into the approach. That you’re not just sitting back resignedly and letting life wash over you, waiting to either drown in the tide or have a spouse flop into your lap via an oncoming wave. There is a fine balance as to how proactive you should be about these things, especially when it comes to looking for a spouse on a basis of religion. But I don’t think putting forth a little effort is really seen the wrong way by others who are also willing to put in that effort, rather it is the ones who too nervous to go that route or otherwise already settled who see no need in such an event or mock it. Of course there’s the school of thought that holds that when it’s meant to be, it will happen, so there’s no point in putting all this effort in seeking. This does however bring to mind the story of the preacher on the roof who refused all efforts to rescue him on the basis that God would save him, only to be informed after death that those rescues WERE God’s offer of saving him. You can’t guarantee a reward out of hard work, but it’s still worth more than doing nothing.
Participation: This brings up another point. I noticed right away that half the guys were on their cell phones rather than paying attention to either speakers, activities, or the women around them. Most of them it appeared were texting or doing other similar activities on their smart phones (lowered to their laps of course). This started from the very beginning, when they could have been talking to those next to them, continued through the imam’s talk (which was just plain rude, he wasn’t a bad speaker at all and the talk was short), and into the activities which the hosts had arranged. This was not a large spread out area so it was also completely obvious. I could have even read the texts of some of the people myself if I had cared to do so, I could see it that well.
Now, I don’t know if anyone, male or female, is looking for a spouse who sits and plays with their smart phone while you are talking, but if they are I bet they’re not going to an event like this. In fact if you are looking for someone like that, you may be better off sending random texts until you encounter a like-minded soul. Then you can get together and text each other across the dinner table. I honestly don’t think these guys were looking for a woman engaged to her smart phone either, in all likelihood they were either bored or nervous an using it as a security blanket. Yeah, I know all about those people who get in an elevator and pretend something really interesting has just popped up on their phone and I know the elevator is a dead zone, but they really don’t want to talk to anybody. I’m not one of those people who starts talking to random strangers (well, most of the time). In fact I’m not even someone who starts talking to random non-strangers since I don’t know who they are most of the time. Suffice to say, they’re safe from me, they don’t have to pretend something is happening on their phone. I recognize the urge. I have my own nervous habits. Sometimes, I pretend to chew gum. I don’t know why. But, I still think if you’re at a matrimonial event and you’re focusing your attention somewhere else, it’s not giving a good impression. Resist the effort. Put the phone away. Talk to the person next to you, even if you don’t think you’ll like her. Someone else might notice you. Maybe, someone else might notice you’re the only guy who isn’t looking at his lap every 5 seconds. Presto, you’ve just risen above the crowd and gained points. SO please, please, guys (and I address the guys only because only guys were doing this, but the warning also goes for women who do this), PLEASE do not spend your time on your cell phone when you’re trying to meet/interest someone. It does not make it look like you are a popular guy, who had a lot of cool friends talking to him and/or has better things to do. It just makes you look rude and inattentive.
Activities: The hosts had some icebreaker activities which were for each table of 8 or so people. This part I think went well, but perhaps could have used some more activities. One of the things I had to do was come up with “unique” factoids about myself. Needless to say (especially with my great start that morning) EVERY interesting factoid about myself immediately flew out the window. The ones I thought of were either just plain bad (I got the worst pimple I can remember ever getting this morning. I don’t normally wear concealer but if I wasn’t this room would have been quarantined by now under assumption of a flesh-eating bacteria outbreak. I can eat an entire loaf of garlic bread by myself. I get paid to break things and point out errors and it’s not something I can stop myself from doing the rest of the time) or sounded freakish and obnoxiously self-centered (I started college when I was 14. I have knocked myself out twice with electric shocks to the forehead. I collapse randomly if I don’t eat enough salt. I once invented my own numbering system based on the rhyme “eeny meeny miney mo” ). The facts that I actually wrote were neither unique nor interesting, of course. Maybe I should have written “I am horrible at thinking on the spot.” No, that would have been even worse, though also true. It probably would have been best to go with some sort of joke, but I can never remember those at the right time either. The takeaway from this is: be prepared to say something interesting about yourself that doesn’t sound self-aggrandizing, even if it’s not a comment card. Or a singles event. Have a short, natural, self-reference that you can memorize and pitch if you meet somebody of interest that doesn’t make you put your foot in your mouth and consider ways of hiding in small crevices as soon as people leave. (Also both factoids of mine. I can literally cram my big toe in my mouth, and this was a “skill” I cultivated on purpose. And I like squeezing into any crevice big enough to fit me. So you can’t use those.)
Another problem during the activities, again, was that people started having side conversations and not participating. Now, obviously they came here to talk to each other, but the hosts did put some thought into the activities and some people really weren’t tuned in. If you’re going to do something like this, engage. Basically the same lesson as with the cell phone texters. Do you really want to bond with your future spouse over shared disinterest? Maybe if you both enroll in a horrible “Theoretical Spreadsheeting 101” class together (though still not ideal, wouldn’t you rather bond over shared perseverance), but not when the focus of the event is getting to know each other and finding a match.
Things Fall Apart: The biggest problem, however, was during the times of the event when we were just supposed to mingle. Now, admittedly, mingling is one of my least favorite activities, though it is fun to say. Small talk may as well be a foreign language. Actually I tend to do better at foreign language. At least, it feels that way to me (possibly not to my listeners). However, I actually did reasonably well in talking to people this day, possibly because frankly there weren’t that many options so there wasn’t a lot of milling around the room, everybody was right there and everybody was there for the same reason.No, the problem was it very rapidly became impossible to hear anything. The noise was deafening. There weren’t really that many people in the room (I’ve been at comparably-sized family events and it was possible to have more than one conversation going on without bellowing, at least until some type of discussion like “the best way to screw in a lightbulb” came up), however it seemed that everybody was shouting and in fact the only way to talk to anybody else was to shout even louder. I literally could not hear the person sitting immediately next to me without him shouting, and even then it was almost impossible to understand. The worst-noise-level restaurants I’ve been in don’t even compare. Now, I’ll admit I’m especially bad at picking out conversation over a background rumble, compared to some people, but this was no rumble. It was a full-blown avalanche.
Unfortunately, I highly suspect this contributed towards what turned into an early exodus from the event. I only got a chance to talk to two people, one of whom only after the event when enough people had dispersed for the noise to drop, since it concluded with a fair amount of time left over in the time slot. This part of the event really I think should have been handled a little bit differently. I’m not really in favor of the whole “rotating tables” setup I’ve heard about as depicted in speed-dating movie scenes, but some sort of division was necessary just to separate people enough to keep the noise down. It wasn’t that people were interrupting others, they were just trying to drown them out because nobody could hear. As a result I think most people left without talking to very many people, because the mingling didn’t last very long.
A possible solution would be to have a bigger area, certainly acoustics plays a role, but even if you look at open restaurant setups with considerably more couples there, some of them are quiet, and some of them are extremely noisy. The table setups were good with the group size, though splitting them into slightly smaller groups (3 tables instead of 2 in this case perhaps) probably would have been helpful in terms of encouraging participation. For the general talk and mingling sessions, I think having stations around a larger room where people could chat without having to outshout those at their elbows would be helpful. The central area could be maintained where people could linger before breaking off to talk to a particular person (perhaps while waiting for that person to disengage from another person they were talking to).
I also think that some more formalized method of recording interest in another person, through the coordinators of the event, would be helpful, then they could keep monitoring/regulating the mingling part to keep things flowing (e.g. Flora is talking to Momo, Alfonso passes his note to the administrator with checkboxes that he’d be interested in further connection to Flora and Shipu, then when Flora and Momo break off their conversation, the administrator introduces Alfonso and Flora). Or something like that. At the very least this could allow followup after the event through the administrator, if both parties were interested in making contact. At least one other event I read about included a website afterwards where people could indicate that they wanted to followup with a particular participant, but on the scale of this particular event it wouldn’t need to be that complicated. At any rate, I think some better coordination in terms of just free chatting would have made for a better experience and more conversations held, and perhaps fewer people leaving to escape the deafening roar.
Another thing that would have been helpful, I thought, would be to provide more basic information than just our names as means of introduction, either in written format at our places or just being asked to say that in the formal introductions. For example, “I’m Cici, I’m 32, I’m a forensics analyst, I’m divorced with two kids, 2 and 6, and in my free time I raise St. Bernards.” These are generally all the types of things one nails down (or attempts to do so) in early conversations if not the first conversation with a “prospect” (considering that due to the nature of the event we already knew everybody lived in the area, or you could throw that in too). Maybe, having people fill out a card with these details would be easier, then someone could see these and reference them when they wanted to begin talking (“Oh, I see you raise St. Bernards… I played a St. Bernard in a school play when I was 9!”). They could also see these details and it would factor into if they wanted to strike up a conversation with the person or not. Alternatively people could just be asked to say these details when they introduced themselves around the table, which would be quite easy. I prefer the written method because otherwise I’d never remember that stuff and have to take notes, but I certainly would have even on that basis known more about the people I was talking to. As someone who loathes small talk, I know that it’s a lot easier to talk about facts when you don’t know what to talk about or feel awkward. Name something interesting about myself? Aaaaggh panic mode, mind blanking. Too many variables. On the other hand, ask me where I grew up? What pets do I have? How old am I? Answers to these things come pretty easily. So then you have a starting point and you’ve also gotten some potentially boring intro material out of the way too.
This would also perhaps (or perhaps not depending on how people present themselves) help with a problem which I didn’t anticipate, that is, people who weren’t actually single attending a singles event. Or were, rather, in that state between being single and actually being legally divorced. Now, I have to say that I have known, and even been friends with, good friends with, a number of people during my life who for whatever specific reasons chose to at least pursue another relationship or interest before all previous ties were severed. I won’t pretend to know the reasons behind this, I just know it happens. A lot. Sometimes, with perfectly nice people. On the other hand, I’ve been divorced. Divorce is not pleasant or easy, no matter how much it was necessary. The paperwork and legal finangling aspect of it is also a huge headache, especially considering how simple the paperwork is to get IN to a marriage. But going through all that and securing a divorce IS necessary, if you’re planning to get married again. (Don’t go down the multiple wives road as an excuse… it’s illegal here so let’s just start with the legal baseline). If you’re going to an event for people seeking to get married, or if you’re posting an online profile seeking to get married, or if you’re asking your friends to introduce you to someone as a potential, be single. Be divorced. Fully. You MAY be perfectly ready to move on, but to me it’s kind of a lack of respect not just to your previous spouse (who you may or may not care about respecting at this point) but also to anyone under future consideration. This is not a job security thing where you find another job before you quit the old job. Just because you think you’re ready mentally (and trust me, I know I was ready to be DONE with my previous marriage long before the final judgement was signed, even though I also knew I wasn’t ready for another relationship at that time), doesn’t mean you have to start the process before you’re fully divorced. Take a little break. Work through the emotions. Get the final stamps stamped and ends tied up. Breathe. Recoup. It’s not even about being on your own necessarily because in many cases, long separations preceded the actual divorce, and then you have legal waiting periods, etc. I know it’s tedious. And lonely. But on the other hand, this is an excellent time to take a breather and make a clean break of it before jumping in or even considering someone else. I know we’ve all heard about rebound relationships, nobody wants to be that especially when they’re looking for marriage. But even if all intentions are good and clear and smooth, it does not do any harm to conclude your previous business before moving forward and it does a lot of good, even if it is just a piece of paper.
All in all, it was a much better experience than I anticipated. It wasn’t horrible and awkward and nauseating. I wasn’t plagued with self loathing afterwards. I wasn’t harassed by creeps. I talked to several nice people. Only Allah knows what, if anything, may come out of it for me personally, but a singles event is a starting place, it is a point of contact, and a matter of networking. You probably go to other events (parties, classes, etc) with an eye toward meeting someone, but not expecting to walk out of there with your future wife or husband lined up and labeled, just to get a lead or even see who is out there or connect with someone who might know someone. So consider these type of events the same way, with the huge advantage that people who are attending this have much closer intentions in terms of meeting their future spouse than your random sampling at another event. Thus, you can cut through all the excuse about why you’re actually there or not, and you can ask people somewhat personal questions without being surprised, you can cut to the chase so to speak. You can do it in an environment that has some level of protection because everybody knows why everybody else is there and it’s actually being run as an event.
Personally, I hope that there are more of these events in the future, the bumps get ironed out a bit, more people sign up, and it becomes a regular thing. Because the need isn’t going away, it will only increase as the community increases. If you want to set up a similar event, please do so. By all means. (If you’re not married, I do suggest you get some married folks involved to help administer and run things, act as advisers and speakers, and importantly, get advertising to spread the word about your event from your community organizations). In fact, if you want to get ideas from the people who set up this event so you can host one, let me know and I’ll be happy to privately connect you with the administrators.