I enter the coffee shop and scan the room looking for Ari. I finally spot him comfortable on a couch, heavily engaged in conversation with an older man who seems to be important to him. I cannot hear the topic of their discussion, but they nod their heads in agreement with one another, and laugh good-naturedly.
I begin to wonder: did Ari bring a relative or a colleague along with him to our interview?
As it turns out, the two just met while Ari was waiting for me to arrive.
It becomes evident fairly quickly that this is what Ari, 28, is all about: he just loves people. He has a natural knack for forming connections easily, and for making people laugh.
He has no qualms in initiating conversations with just about anyone. He recalled the time when he ran into rapper DMX at an airport bar, and spent an afternoon drinking and discussing music with him.
“I say just go for it,” Ari said. “When are you going to see them again? What have you got to lose? You have to take the risks, big or small.”
In a world where people can be classified as “givers” or “takers,” the affable Shadyside bachelor is most definitely a “giver.”
Ari’s job at the Allegheny County Department for Economic Development allows him to provide assistance to minority and women business-owners. And a big chunk of his free time is spent volunteering as a basketball and track coach for the Special Olympics at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh.
“I love it,” Ari said. “It is the highlight of my week.”
Ari also loves to work out and run. He participates in the Pittsburgh Great Race every year, and once ran the Pittsburgh half-Marathon — by mistake.
When he couldn’t find his father at an agreed upon stopping place at the seven-mile mark, Ari just kept running. “Yeah, I ran the half accidentally,” he said with a grin.
A native Pittsburgher, Ari was raised to be entrenched in the Jewish community. But having grown up here poses its own challenges when trying to date.
“It’s a small town,” he said. “So it’s hard to find someone here to start a relationship.”
He would love to meet someone who communicates well, and who has a good sense of humor.
“Someone genuinely sweet, kind and with good family ties,” he added.
Ari jokes that he is “vertically challenged” (he is about 5’3”), and has a great sense of humor about the fact that he is on the shorter side. He is clearly confident with who he is.
As I get ready to leave the coffee shop, Ari gives me a big, warm hug. I have known him for a half hour. And we are old friends.
(If you would like to get in touch with Ari, or if you would like to be featured in a future “Single Files” column, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.)