BOSTON. On Friday night, Quincy Market here is ground zero for New England’s dating scene, with many singles driving in from less-populous areas to increase their chances of finding love, or at least a mate. “The guys in my town, I’ve dated them all,” says Cindy Scarafucci from Paxton, a town in central Massachusetts whose population is under 5,000. “And that includes a couple that aren’t great prospects because of outmoded incest laws.”
Quincy Market, Boston
Here, by contrast, there is a constant flow of eligible bachelors, and so the bar stools fill up early with made-up women who eye the men who enter as if they were so many discounted sweaters on sale in the finer women’s clothing stores downtown. “I think I can get a pretty good idea of a guy’s personality from what some would consider superficial indicators,” says Adrienne Wycoff, an actuary for Modern Moosehead Insurance Company. “Is he neat, well-dressed, polite, funny–and willing to spend twelve bucks on a glass of wine for me?”
“Keep ’em coming, bartender.”
But on the fringes of the scene, one group of women looks out of place: six nuns who survey the patrons of the numerous bars as if they were crippled children in a hospital, or starving lepers on the streets of Calcutta. “Well, we’ve got our work cut out for us tonight,” says the apparent leader, Sister Mary Mark Fidrych. “Let’s split up, we can save more souls that way.”
The nuns are members of the world’s only religious order devoted to the minds and bodies of yuppie women drinkers, the Little Sisters of Chardonnay. “It’s tragic,” says Sister Carmelo Anthony. “So many of these girls–and they really are just overgrown girls–will wake up tomorrow with puffy faces, or worse, a social disease. We try to teach them to say ‘when,’ and also ‘no.’”
“So I said ‘Don’t spoil your dinner with all those Pizza-flavored goldfish, missy!’”
The sisters minister both to Catholics and to those who are not members of the One True Church, as they like to refer to the faith they were brought up in. “It’s something I’m called to do,” says Sister Mary Joseph DiMaggio. “Why should I deny a young woman the benefits of my religious training just because she belongs to some heathen sect like the Presbyterians?”
The sisters’ gentle technique is on display as DiMaggio spots Suzanne Fleischer, a blonde bank vice president, complaining to friends at her table that she wants to lose her “love handles” by swimsuit season, which is only six weeks away. “I don’t know what it is,” Fleischer says. “I’ve tried Jenny Craig, aerobics, spinning–nothing works.”
“She thinks she’ll lose weight drinking ‘lite’ beer.”
“Excuse me,” DiMaggio says in a soft voice that contains no hint of admonishment. “I couldn’t help overhearing you.”
Fleischer turns and gives the nun a skeptical look, but softens when she sees DiMaggio’s warm smile and open demeanor.
“I’m sorry, I guess I was talking kind of loud,” Fleischer says.
“I just want you to know that Our Lord cares about your ‘muffin tops,’ and in his bounty he has provided for women like you who like to drink but want to stay slim.”
“He has?” Fleischer asks incredulous. “I don’t remember that from Sunday school.”
“What are you drinking?” DiMaggio says as she takes the last open seat.
“I always ask for an oaky chardonnay,” Fleischer says.
“She said a prayer, crossed herself–and then she was gone.”
“So you like that ‘buttery’ feel?”
“Umm-hmm,” Fleischer says with a nod and a satisfied look.
“Let us pray,” says DiMaggio, and the three women exchange surprised looks but bow their heads. “Dear Lord, Pray for your daughter . . . what’s your name, dear?”
“Susan, that she may lay off high sugar wines that cause her to bulge out of her panty hose, and develop a taste for ‘dry’ varietals such as pinot grigio and Sauvignon blanc. Also, just a splash of sparkling water in your wine to make it a ‘spritzer’ can really help. Amen.”
“Amen,” the three woman say in response, and one notices a tear forming in the eye of the woman who is the principal object of the nun’s mercy.
“Thank you, sister,” Fleischer says. “No one’s ever cared about me like that. I don’t know how to thank you,” she says as she starts to remove her checkbook from her purse.
“Make it out to ‘Little Sisters of Chardonnay,’” the nun says, “and next Friday night?”
“Don’t come down here in your high-slit skirt and come-fuck-me pumps.”