I got something to tell you, far outside the black and white

If you’re young and want to socialize with strangers in your major metropolitan area, do whatever you can to become a Yelp Elite.

Yelp has figured out a business plan designed to funnel free appetizers and liquor into the gullets of 21- to 38-year-olds, somehow at a profit to everyone involved. Monthly Yelp events involve taking over a bar or restaurant, supplying snacks to everyone they invite, and not charging a dime. I suppose the establishments get some publicity out of it; as a marketer, I remain skeptical.

The big Yelp Elite event for June, this past Tuesday, was a toga party at Ivy. It felt a little too loud and stuffed for me, cramming three hundred people into a space better suited for two hundred. You could only acquire the free drink of the evening – miniature St. Germain cocktails – at one corner of the bar, leading to a traffic jam of Gallic proportions. But I met plenty of new people and chatted up older friends as well. My toga – two mismatched towels, slung around my waist and torso – caused talk.

I much preferred the smaller event the following evening – a free screening of 500 Days of Summer at the Loews Harvard Square. Marie C., Lauren R. and I (along with Boston’s Yelp hostess Leighann F. and several dozen other people) saw Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel schmoop around on screen, then repaired to Charlie’s for burgers and beer. The TVs on the second floor alternated between the Red Sox game and Ghost Hunters on Sci-Fi.

“My sister’s ex-boyfriend convinced my entire family,” Leighann explained, “that the specks of light you see in photos when a flash goes off are ghosts. They still believe it, even though none of us can stand him now.”

“Maybe he should have used his powers of persuasion,” I suggested, “convincing them he wasn’t a douche.”

A micro media blow of 500 Days of Summer:

__________, an attractive but gloomy male between the ages of 21 and 59, meets __________, an energetic pixie with an anachronistic haircut between the ages of 18 and 26. After a whirlwind courtship which involves late night conversations, sprints through __________’s landmarks and a soundtrack featuring indie pop stars __________, __________ and __________, the two fall into bed together. __________ is happier than he’s ever been! But __________ refuses to commit to the extent he wants, for reasons she won’t get into. After several fights, a few walks in the rain, and a gloomy song by __________, the two of them realize that __________. Credits fade on an artsy cartoon cityscape.

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