The Yenta

The nice Jewish boy of my mom's dreams-for a hundred bucks?


No problem; Louise says she'll take mine with her Polaroid. Besides, the pictures don't matter that much, she says.

"Everybody," she says, "everybody is better in person."

”Everybody,“ says Louise, ”everybody is better in person.“

The phone rings. "Excuse me, ladies," she says. "My public."

The blond lawyer and her friend go in to look at the books. Louise sits down at her computer, inputting the forms while I write out a check.

"Anybody worth their salt who's Jewish is doing this," she tells me. Just between us, she doesn't think too much of some of the guys in the singles groups. The good ones are here, she says. They're willing to spend a little money to do the service. And who wants to date a cheap guy?

A guy pokes his head in and says hi.

"This one's a doctor," she says.

He's a urologist. Sexy.

The lawyer brings in her list of guys she wants to date. "Is that guy in the book?" she whispers to Louise.

"His name's Benjamin -- he's the only one -- go!"

She scuttles back to the books, hands the matchmaker $2 and gives me her phone number; we'll go through this thing together. She doesn't say anything to Benjamin.

It's picture time, Louise says, grabbing her Polaroid and taking me to the lobby.

I stick my hands in my pockets. She wants me in a bunch of fake poses like a model in JCPenney's back-to-school catalog. I don't think so.

I slump down on the block.

That's nice, she says.

In the picture, I look like my dad.

That's good, she says.

She hasn't seen my dad. Mom's prettier.

I flip through the books and find a really hot Israeli guy. But his handwriting's neat and he's a hairdresser. I take the book into Louise's office.

"Is he straight?"

"Yes," she says. "I know his mother and his sister. Look what he does for a living."

He's a color specialist, which is why I asked.

I go back into the room. She brings me a yellow wallet-size card with my ID number: 172366.

"It's not good at Neiman's," she says. "Only here."

"Hey, cute stuff," Louise says when I walk in the next night.

Some guy is telling her about all the jobs he has been laid off, and about his job now, and how he doesn't want to be laid off again.

Boring. I'm bored. "Can I go look at the girls?" I ask.

Louise turns sharply to me. "No," she says. "That's not allowed."

"Why not?" I ask. "Are you afraid I'm a lesbian?"

"No," she says. "That's on Monday nights." She isn't open on Monday nights.

A woman my age comes in. "So let me ask you this," she says, real slow. "Are there a lot of guys here who watch Star Trek?"

I figure that's code for "Is the book full of geeky guys?" Yeah, I tell her. There are a lot of guys here who watch Star Trek.

"Great," she says. "Because I'm a Trekkie!" She pulls out a pack of pictures she took of Brent Spiner at the San Antonio Star Trek convention.

Worf is on her checks. "My mom's paying me back for this," she says.

Louise takes the check. "Most mothers do."

A week later, I get to see the guy Louise calls "the cowboy." He's about 900 years old. She calls him the cowboy because he lives on a ranch. She can't say his first name. It's too hard. Too Hebrew.

"Did you get your mail?" she asks me.

What mail?

"Somebody picked you," she says, and pulls out a stack of penciled papers.

She hands me a card. I go into the picture room and meet a Baylor student.

"Find any hot ones?" I ask, throwing down my bag.

She looks up. "No," she says. "There aren't really many."

We check out the guy who picked me.

"He's cute," she says. "You should go out with him. Look at his arm veins."

She's got three green slips in her hand. "These three guys picked me, and there's no way I'd go out with any of them," she says. She was excited when she got the slips, but now that she has looked at them, she's a little bummed. And almost insulted.

We flip through the books together. She shows me two of the guys who asked her out. Both bald. The last guy disgusts her even more. He's fat.

Later, the Trekkie arrives in Louise's office. She's excited. Somebody picked her. "Louise," she asks, "how did it happen so quickly?"

"Our mail is really good," the matchmaker says. "It goes out first-class."

I go with the Trekkie into the picture room. "I'm scared," she says, covering her eyes as I find him for her. It's the fat guy the Baylor student just rejected.

"He's cute!" she cries.

She flips the page back to read his profile. "Dang," she says. "He wants to learn how to play golf, get a master's and run for Congress."

She keeps reading. "He's still looking to make a difference in the world. Yes! That's wonderful."

She runs into the matchmaker's office.

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