You are not the kind of girl who would be at a place like this at this time: 6:30pm. Or maybe you are. Maybe you are the kind of girl who would sit under a massive plastic cupcake-shaped awning while waiting for matchmaker Janis Spindel to assess you. But then, what kind of girl is that?
When I walk in to Dylan’s Candy Bar for one of the famed Matchmaker’s Meet and Greets with eligible women I feel an almost frantic temptation to inform anyone manning that door that I am fine. I don’t need any help getting dates! Maybe some women do, but not me! Not me! I feel this way, because, if you are a halfway attractive woman, you are supposed to be in, approximately, the same romantic situation as Scarlet O’Hara at a barbecue—no matter that not even Vivien Leigh had that many beaux.
Besides, you know the kind of girl that you expect to see at any kind of matchmaking event.You know. Imagine them in your head. Imagine The Millionaire Matchmaker if you’re having trouble. Bleached blonde hair. Lips pumped full of collagen. Dead behind the eyes.
When I think of the women who use matchmakers, I specifically think of one of the girls on Millionaire listlessly stroking the back of her male conquest as he excitedly explained they were co-habitating. While he did so, she stared at the camera, blankly, as though she had decided her youth would be a fair price to barter for a three bedroom on 3rd Avenue.
Which is to say: I don’t think I could ever pull off bleached blonde with my coloring. Becoming utterly soulless also seems like it might be tough.
And if there’s any door guy, I want him to know that, too.
There isn’t one, of course.
There is, instead, an incredibly nice, down-to-earth group of around a dozen women waiting in the upstairs cafe. Not a single of one them seems to suffer from jelly-fish lip syndrome. They appear to range in age from their mid-twenties to late thirties, and all of them are excitedly waiting to meet Janis.
I’m shocked, mostly, I think, by the footwear. They wear sensible shoes. I realize I—ludicrously—expected everyone to be teetering around in 6-inch plastic heels.
But the women aren’t gold diggers or dilettantes or universally known “actresses/models”. They have great jobs. They make good jokes! They’re the kinds of girls you’d want to be friends with. Then I draw back and realize that this is perhaps because they are not doing this to be on television.
That might be why. So, why are they here, then, these nice, pretty, normal women in their nice, pretty, normal shoes? They’re certainly the kind of women who can find dates on their own.
Everyone has their reasons. One woman explains that her mom met someone through Janis. Someone else says that they found an offer through Lifebooker. Someone remarks that Janis has e-mailed her to come in about 20 times (Janis proudly admits that she is relentless). And someone else points out that she read that Janis has married almost 1,000 couples (Janis is, in fact, six away). The group nods in unison.
Ah. That’s right. They’re there to meet their husbands.
That, perhaps, really is the appeal. In an age and a city where you’re supposed to be so fulfilled with your life that you’re perpetually “only looking for something casual”—you’re Scarlet O’Hara at a barbeque!—it’s almost taboo to be obviously looking to settle down and get married.
Even on the Internet. In spite of the fact that on online dating sites it’s perfectly acceptable to say that your interests include, say, crocodile wrestling and braiding strangers’ hair, it would still be a bit weird to lead with your desire to get married and start a family as soon as possible. But Janis assures the room that that is precisely what her male clients are looking for.
Marriage is what Janis Spindel does, and she’s fairly clear on that point. She recounts a story to the women about meeting a man who had decided he was ready to find his wife, and how a name of one of her clients instantly popped into her head. “So, I said to him, ‘Brianna,” she declares, “and he says ‘who’s Brianna?’ And I said, “well, she’s your wife.’”
Janis says this with such conviction that I imagine there’s no doubt in any listener’s mind that, a week later, Brianna and that man are now married. This, seemingly, is just how it happens with Janis. She does—as that one attendee pointed out—have nearly 1,000 couples married, and a shockingly low divorce rate.
Now, maybe it happens that way simply because she is throwing together two people with reasonably similar interests who are both very ready to settle down. But still. On some level, everyone who has ever had disappointing experiences dating probably dreams that a fairy Godmother will sweep in and say, “Here. Here is the person you are supposed to be with. Go live happily ever after now.”
And to get to skip all the stumbling about and feigning an interest in crocodile wrestling in search of that person? No wonder men pay Janis a starting fee of $100,000. And as for the women, perhaps it’s worth sitting through Janis’s intense questioning period (she asks one woman if she’d like to move to Seattle, the woman declines, and Janis replies, undeterred, “Until you meet him and fall madly in love!”) on the off-chance that your name will pop into her head and she’ll present you with true love on a platter.
We may be willing to work very hard to find love, but how wonderful it would be if, instead, it could just be presented to us so effortlessly. As the women—these nice, normal, pretty women—leave the Meet & Greet, they do so with a sense of childlike optimism that befits the venue.
And who’s the kind of girl who would be into that? Well, maybe it’s just about all of us.