The Yenta

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

"He's cute!" she says.

Louise looks up. "Of course, that's why I took his money."

"Why did he choose me?" the Trekkie asks.

ĒAnybody who's worth their salt who's Jewish is doing this,ď Louise tells me.

After the Trekkie goes home, I stick around and chat with Louise. She's the grandmother I've always wanted. She reminds me of home, but she's far less irritating.

She says there's a whole lot of happy stories. The back wall lists over 100 married couples who met through the service. She has had to take only three couples off the wall: two annulments and one divorce. The divorcée came back and said to do it right this time.

Then there was another lady who was in the book for seven or eight years. She was getting frustrated, so she asked out just about everyone. A geologist said yes. Now they're living happily ever after in Tunisia.

The matchmaker got the wedding invitation. She didn't go; she doesn't go to any of the weddings. But she saves the invitations.

A geologist wanders in to visit Louise and flip through the books. When he comes out, he has memorized my profile and says I'm the best one in the books. That's sweet, I tell him. But I doubt it. We go drink a beer, and he tells me about his cockatiel, Sunny, and that he lets his fish eat each other to keep down the tank population.

I meet the guy with the big arm veins at The Ale House. His profile says he's five feet nine, but he doesn't look taller than me. He's got braces; I didn't see braces in his picture.

He talks about traffic and his mom for the next hour and a half. He says he's real protective of his mom since his dad and then his stepdad left. He's wearing his grandmother's wedding ring on his pinkie -- in Hebrew it says, "I love you more today than yesterday." In high school he was the leader of an organization that turns young boys into young men.

Nice guy. Really, truly, genuinely nice.

If I were a nice person, we'd make a nice couple.

The geologist calls, the one with the cockatiel and the cannibal fish. He's got tickets to see Paul Simon and Bob Dylan. I've never seen Bob Dylan. The geologist has just become an intensely cool guy.

He picks me up Friday night wearing a super-tucked-in shirt, a bottle of cologne and sneakers that add a couple inches to his height. In the car he sticks a Grateful Dead boot into the stereo and explains the string theory because he saw it on TV the night before.

We spread our blanket just as the lights dim. I'm wondering just how small this blanket is as he snuggles up to me. He opens his backpack and pulls out binoculars and a pen and paper. He's gonna write down the set list, then he's going to put it in a folder marked "cool stuff."

My neck hurts. (I was in a car accident, and it's making weird crunching noises.) His mom's a massage therapist, so he rubs my neck. He's good at it. "I learned from the best," he says. She used to practice on him. I doubt his mom licks her clients' shoulders.

Even more irritating: He talks during Bob Dylan's set. Nobody talks during Dylan.

I call the blond lawyer. The last I'd talked to her, a guy she chose had called and they'd had a really great conversation. They planned on going to high holy day services together and were joking about getting married.

So how'd it go? I ask.

"Eh," she says with a wrinkled-nose-not-so-thrilled voice. "He's a really nice guy," she says.

I totally understand.

The geologist-with-Dylan-tickets keeps calling and not leaving messages, and I keep not answering the phone, and the place he works keeps coming up on my caller ID. I know I should call him, but I don't want to.

The lawyer and I both want to take our profiles out of the book. We've done this only a month, but we're already feeling bitter and jaded. After a month of bad first dates, we don't want to date anyone. At all.

I was thinking last night about that Fiddler on the Roof song: "Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match, find me a find, catch me a catch." In the first verse the girl sings, "night after night in the dark all aloneŠ make me a match of my own." But I'd forgotten the second part of the song, where she tells the matchmaker to take her time -- find her no find, catch her no catch. Because playing with matches, a girl can get burned.

And doesn't one of those Fiddler girls end up marrying a Christian and moving to Siberia?

I call the matchmaker and tell her this isn't working for me. The last guy she set me up with said he picked me purely for my cleavage. He spent the rest of the night talking about his psychologist and how wounded he is from the girl who dumped him a week ago. Right now, I don't want to date anyone.
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