WASHINGTON -- Jessie Newburn's Craigslist ad, looking for men to take her along to "top-tier weddings" in the D.C. area, was flagged as questionable and removed within an hour or so of it being placed on Feb. 7.
Newburn remains undeterred.
She has a goal of being invited to three weddings in 2012. And not just any weddings.
"They have to be weddings for people in business, government and philanthropic families. Upper echelon families in the D.C. and Baltimore area," Newburn told The Huffington Post the day after the ad was pulled. Ideally, the people getting married would never have been married before; but at the very least, it has to be the bride's first wedding.
These are the conditions that the friend who concocted this wedding challenge set for her, as the way to maximize Newburn's goal in going to these three fancy weddings: amplifying her local networking opportunities.
The friend first posed this challenge to Newburn on New Year's Eve 2010/2011, during a whisky-fueled night on the farm he and his partner own in Pennsylvania. For a year, Newburn says, she hesitated.
Then a week ago, during a full moon, she placed her ad:
Title:(strictly platonic) A respectable wedding date - w4m
I'm looking to increase my social network in the DC and Baltimore areas. Last year, I was given a great project and New Year's goal by a married farmer friend of mine: ATTEND TOP-TIER WEDDINGS as a date for men who aren't looking to date, but need a date. I was, admittedly, a chicken, but I am going to do it this year. So, if you find yourself invited to a wedding or two in the DC-Balt area and need a respectable date, I may be just what you need.
Here's what I need: The weddings need to be first-to-first, or at least the first wedding for the bride. The younger the bride, the better. The people getting married need to be of families in the higher echelons of government, business and philanthropy in this area.
And I need for you to be a gentleman.
I'll be a lady. I can hold a conversation ... and my alcohol. I can be charming, a good date and appropriately dressed. I've been told, in so many words, that I wear my 48 years well. I have a more-than-reasonable job, interesting hobbies and a life I enjoy living. Whatever your reasons, if you need a date for a top-tier wedding in the area, are in the 44-54 age range and you're buying the wedding gift, consider inviting me as your "+one."
The photo I'm attaching is recent, from a costume-heavy "Santa" event in DC. I was Ambassador Claus.
Contrary to what Craigslist might have thought, Newburn -- who is the director of communications and community engagement for the Columbia Association, the organization that handles quality-of-life amenities in Columbia, Md. -- is not an escort. Contrary to what you might think, Newburn says she is not looking for new business opportunities. She's not even looking for romance, though she'd be receptive to romance were it to come along.
Really, Newburn says, she's just looking to make Columbia feel more like home. She's lived in the sedate, planned Howard County community on and off for about 40 years. She loves it there -- loves the diversity, the high level of education found among her neighbors.
"But it's also really, really, really boring," she says. "We don't have any dance clubs. We don't have a lot of music venues. What I've come to understand over time is that for whatever reason, at this point in my life this is where I live. If I'm going to be here for a while let me just know more people."
At the weddings she hopes to attend, Newburn promises to wear appropriate clothes, as dictated by a friend who comes from a distinguished southern family herself -- a wool suit with a pencil skirt, no colored jewels (colored jewels, she was told, are only for women over the age of 50; Newburn is 48). She promises not to raise eyebrows. But first, she needs an invitation.
So far, one person has sent her naked photos of himself and another emailed offering to crash some weddings with her. Neither response is exactly what Newburn is looking for.
But she's optimistic. She's putting the ad back up on Craigslist; it's up on her blog. And her already-existing social network is kicking into gear, spreading the word about her wedding challenge.
"People with whom I'd even forgotten I was Facebook friends with have been commenting right and left when our paths cross," Newburn wrote to HuffPost in an email on Valentine's Day, a week after the initial Craigslist ad went up and got taken down. "I tell them that it might not be today, but perhaps in a couple months or years, they'll hear of someone who needs what I'm offering."
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