Read Matchmakers 2.0 (A Novel Nibbles title) Online
Authors: Debora Geary
by Debora Geary
Copyright 2011 Debora Geary
Miri read from the client data sheet. “Lizzy is looking for a man who likes poetry, walks on the beach, and quiet nights in front of the fire.”
Derrick and I groaned in unison. Women like Lizzy are hell to match. First, all guys fitting her description are either gay or very firmly attached to some lucky woman. Second, single women who still think that guy is out there generally have attachment-to-reality issues.
Miri shook her finger at us. “Give her a chance. I think it’s sweet that a woman her age can still be a romantic. There are some obstacles to overcome, however. Lizzy is forty-two, lives in New Jersey, and is allergic to dogs, car deodorizers, and gluten.”
Derrick looked up from his computer screen. “What the heck is gluten?”
Forgive him, he’s a geek. He doesn’t get out much. “It’s the protein in wheat,” I said. “Lots of people can’t eat it. Bread, pasta—stuff like that.”
Derrick looked pained. “We have to find a date for a woman who can’t eat pizza or spaghetti?”
Miri frowned at him. “It’s a serious condition, Derrick. We can’t deny a love match to Lizzy just because she can’t eat fettuccine Alfredo.”
Of the three of us, I think Miri believes the most in what we do. We’re the brains behind MatchMakers.com. You plunk down your $99 for our “web 2.0 algorithms plus personal touch” approach, and if the automated system can’t match you in three tries, Derrick, Miri, and I hook you up. I suspect that even MatchMakers’ senior management realizes we’re not exactly what people think they’ve paid for, so we’re all sworn to secrecy.
Derrick attacked his keyboard for a few moments. He’s our resident data geek and the token guy on the matchmaking team. He’s a god with a computer, and an idiot with pretty much everything else. “We don’t track food allergies, but an allergy to dogs eliminates sixty-one percent of her match possibilities.”
Wow. A lot of single forty-something guys have dogs. That’s the kind of trivial brain clog you pick up in a job like this.
Crystal, our annoyingly perky HR person, stuck her head in the door of our workroom. “Don’t forget about the contest kick-off this afternoon.” Sigh. It was
Match the Loser
time again. We do this internal competition twice a year. It’s the product of some moronic marketing brainstorm on how to build team spirit while trying to get some of our difficult clients off the books.
Miri looked happy. She was on a winning streak of four
Match the Loser
contests in a row.
I was depressed. If it was
Match the Loser
time again, I had just lost my bet with Jazie, my best friend. I had to put my name in the MatchMakers’ system and date the first three guys the system spit out. Splendid.
Derrick was still working on Lizzy. “Narrow the age range, take out guys who live more than fifty miles from New Jersey or hate poetry, and we have eighty-three possible matches in our system.”
That was getting closer. It’s Derrick’s job to run the first filter and narrow down the match possibilities from our client database. Then, Miri and I take over. However, we prefer a shortlist under fifty, if possible—otherwise our eyes bleed.
I considered Lizzy’s criteria. “Hey Derrick, use the psych-profile scores and knock out extroverts. No way Lizzy falls for a guy that likes crowds. How many does that leave us?”
That probably sounds like I know what I’m doing. On-the-job training, mostly. I got hired for my graduate-thesis work in mate selection. Looks good on the MatchMakers’ website.
Not surprisingly, the site doesn’t mention that I studied the mate-choosing behaviors of guppies, strictly a one-night-stand species. If you ever need to hook up your pet fish, I’m your gal. With people, it’s a little more complicated.
Accessing the psych-profile data is complicated, so we waited patiently for Derrick to finish. He finally looked up and wiggled his fingers at me, magician style. “Twenty-three left, doll.”
One of the criteria for my next job is a conspicuous absence of coworkers that call me “doll.” Derrick thinks it makes him sound New York hip. Down here in Durham, North Carolina, it just makes him sound weird.
Derrick sent the twenty-three possible matches to Miri’s and my new iPads, and we started looking them over. The iPads were one of my little victories as leader of the match team. I’d added up the cost of printing match profiles on paper over the last year and taken that to my boss. It’s one of the few times in my three-year tenure here that common sense has actually been effective.
Miri started eliminating candidates. “We need to tighten the age range. No way a guy under forty’s going to work.”
Derrick protested. “I thought we agreed that five years up or down was always a safe range?”
See what I mean? Data geek, life idiot. Miri usually left it to me to tackle his dumber assumptions. “Forty’s one of the exceptions.” Sometimes you just have to pull rank.
Derrick grumbled. He hated exceptions. They made his formulas clunky, whatever that means.
Miri waved her imaginary scythe and cut a swath through the air. “So, take out the guys that are too young. Then we can definitely eliminate the guys that look too tough.” Don’t ask me how Miri decides this stuff; I have no idea. I agreed with her decision, though. I figured in New Jersey, eliminating anyone who looked tough would shorten the stack considerably.
Yeah, we live and die by stereotypes here at MatchMakers. It’s one of our best things.
Miri did the finger-tap of death for the guys not passing her looks test. For all her new-age philosophies, appearances matter a lot to Miri. I didn’t argue; looks had mattered a lot to my guppies, too.
My turn to filter. I looked over Lizzy’s profile again. Nothing about kids. Forty-two-year-old, single women usually have pretty strong opinions on the subject of kids. In this case, I’d take absence of information as a lack of desire for instant motherhood. Besides, kids tend to cramp fire-lit evenings of poetry.
I did my own finger-taps of death and weeded out matches with kids under eighteen. “Taking out guys with kids. That leaves us with six.”
We both studied the six for a minute. Lizzy would get three custom matches, so we only had to cut the list in half at this point.
I clicked on Brad. He had a bit of a Heathcliff look; maybe Lizzy would find that romantic. Miri had moved to the chair beside me. At this stage, it was easier to share an iPad. She shook her head. “Nope. He’s a Virgo.”
Yep, this is our “web 2.0 algorithm” in all its glory.
“Okay, and that’s a problem because…?” I asked.
“She’s a Cancer. He’s all numbers and logic; she’s emotions. He won’t give her the emotional connection she needs.”
Derrick snorted. He’s a Virgo.
Lizzy was our last match of the morning, and since we had five guys left, I wasn’t inclined to be picky. “Fine, Brad goes. Are any of these other ones less astrologically challenged?”
Miri’s eyes got all luminous. “Oh, look. Vince is a Taurus. Nice stable sign, good long-term match for a Cancer.”
Recently divorced. Yeah, probably in search of wife number two. Lizzy’s profile didn’t scream ‘I want to get married’ though. “And if she’s not looking for long term?”
Lizzy’s eyes sparkled. “Malcolm here is an Aries. Fire sign. Add that to watery Cancer and you’ll get hot, steamy sex. Can’t last, though.”
I looked at Malcolm’s date history. Lots of likes from the women, but he’d never responded to any requests for date number two. A one-night-stand guy—online-dating sites are full of them. I set the ‘Lothario’ flag in his profile and put him on Lizzy’s match list. Maybe she wanted hot and steamy.
So, we had one stable long-term guy, and one sweaty-night-in-the-sheets guy. Miri and I looked over the other four. When nothing jumped out at us, we went to our crapshoot team member. I poked Derrick. “Pick number three—we don’t care.”
Done. Three guys for Lizzy, courtesy of the MatchMakers’ brain trust.
“Yo, Mick. Over here!” My best friend Jazie stood on some highly–desirable bench real estate and waved a hot dog. These days, sitting space outside is at a premium during lunch hour. Give it a couple more months for North Carolina summer weather to hit, and we’d be able to pick our spot.
I waved back and got in line at the hot-dog vendor.
Jazie met me for lunch every Tuesday, as long as one of her birthing mamas didn’t go into labor. Tuesday is ten-percent-off day at our local knitting store, and we were regulars.
We both went through a lot of yarn. Jazie is a midwife, and she knits while she waits for labor to progress. I think she’s made more baby blankets than my great-aunt Frieda, and Aunt Frieda is almost ninety.
I make little felted creatures and sell them on Etsy. I know, I know. Twenty-seven-year-old single woman spends her time hand-knitting stuffed toys. There’s a good therapy session in there somewhere. I’ve always made them. Now, it’s actually a business, instead of just a hobby. I won’t be quitting my day job any time soon, but I get to write my yarn obsession off as a tax deduction. At least, I think I do.
I added fixings to my hot dog and elbowed over to Jazie. She was talking to the woman next to her. Jazie can talk to anyone; she’s the definition of extrovert.
She can also multitask. “Hey you, how goes it?”
I mumbled something unintelligible around my hot dog. When you’ve been friends with someone since first grade, they can usually fill in the blanks.
She gestured with what was left of her lunch. “Eat fast, I’ve got a mama in early labor. It’s baby number four, so things could speed up at any time, and I need more yarn.”
Jazie introduced me to her neighbor on the bench, an elderly woman who scrunched her face up at me. “Mick? That must be a nickname, dear. What’s your real name?”
When your given name is Michaela Ernestine—and yes, my mother used them both on a regular basis—you find yourself a nickname, and you stick with it. “Just Mick, ma’am.”
“Hazel here is recently widowed,” said Jazie. “We were talking about the marvelous world of online dating. I told her you know all about it.”
I didn’t ask how that topic had come up in five minutes of conversation. Jazie knows what I do for a living. She also knows I can’t talk about it. It’s like waving a red flag in front of a bull. She just can’t resist worming it into conversations whenever possible.
Hazel, who was at least seventy, reached into her very retro bag and pulled out a very non-retro laptop. So much for first impressions. She popped it open, and looked at me like an earnest student. “What website is it that you’ve used, dear?”
I seriously considered sending her to one of our competitors. “There are a few, but MatchMakers.com is based right here in Durham.”
Hazel, obviously an Internet whiz, was on the site in seconds. “Ninety-nine dollars is a lot of money. Are they any good?”
This I could help with. I pulled a coupon card out of my bag and handed it to her. “Here, this will get you three months free.”
She beamed at me, good student to favored teacher. “Why, thank you, dear! It only took me six weeks to bag my Billy, so three months should be plenty of time.”
She looked at the website again. “So, I just fill out this questionnaire, and that’s all there is to it?” Without waiting for an answer, she dove in. I sent up a quick prayer that we had three local guys over sixty in our database. Otherwise, I was going to be visiting seniors’ centers trying to find our Hazel a date.
Actually, that wasn’t a bad idea. I leaned toward Hazel. “I saw that the library is offering a class for seniors to learn the Internet. I bet they’d appreciate someone with your skills to help them out.” The library was just down the street. See, sometimes good things do come from reading random notices on the wall when you’re waiting in line.
She nodded absently at me. Clearly Hazel was a one-track-mind kind of girl. Or maybe she was just anti-libraries.
Leaving Hazel busily filling out her compatibility questionnaire, Jazie and I crossed the street to the yarn store. Yes, I knew it was there when I took the job at MatchMakers. Even crappy jobs have their perks.
“It’s sad,” I said to Jazie. “Hazel will probably have more dates than I will this month.”
“That’s entirely your own fault.”
Jazie maintained that anyone who had access to a database of thousands of available men shouldn’t have trouble finding a date. I had so far held tight to my very tenuous ethical claim that MatchMakers wasn’t my own personal dating service. Most of the other employees considered it a job perk.
In three years, I had never matched myself with anyone in our system. It wasn’t really the ethics that bothered me. I just wasn’t ready to admit I was that desperate. I wasn’t. Really. And for as long as it took Jazie to remember our bet, I was sticking to my guns.
She held out a ball of variegated, black-and-white felting yarn. “This would make great zebras. So, are you going to go out with Ian again?”
Ian was my most recent self-inflicted dating adventure. “I don’t think so. I’d have to take a course in pop culture first. He can’t talk about anything but movies and music.” That was putting it nicely. I’d felt stuck in the first chapter of
Good Conversation Topics for a First Date
“Maybe the second date would be better. Go to a Bulls game or something.”
Really, Jazie’s not the best person to date-bash with anymore. She’s gooey in love with her guy, has been for two years. Hard to do the there’s-just-no-good-guys-left thing with your best friend when she actually found one.
However, we’d weathered a lot of crises in our friendship, and we could survive her stable relationship. “Can’t do it. When guys find out I like baseball, they get all weird, like I suddenly grew pecs or something.”
Jazie debated between purple and orange baby yarn. She’d take both—the debate was just for show. “There’s a cute guy in the corner over there.”
A guy in a knitting store? Okay, she made me look. The guy was indeed cute, and actually holding balls of yarn without panicking. Two big points in his favor. Unfortunately, he was also holding the hand of a very pregnant woman. That was a deal breaker. “Jazie, I could spend an entire month in here without tripping over an available guy.”
“So, where are you going to trip over them, then? Cuz girl, it’s time.”
“Don’t bug me. And take both colors, you know you want to.” We’re wool enablers. The first step of dealing with addiction is sharing it with a friend.
“I’ll take both colors. You find yourself a date. Use your freaking database. Seriously, how bad could it be?”
She hadn’t read our customer service complaints.
However, she also had a point. I spend most of my non-work time in places like the grocery store and yoga class. I was about as likely to find a single, straight guy in one of those as in the knitting store.
“Wait.” Jazie’s eyes narrowed. Uh-oh. “When’s the next
Match the Loser
Crap. Time’s up. “It starts tomorrow.”
Jazie wiggled her eyebrows at me. “So, did you fill out your profile?”
We’d made a bet during the last
Match the Loser
six months ago. If I couldn’t find a decent guy on my own by the time the next round of the contest started, I would lower my ethical standards and put my name in the MatchMakers’ system.
“Decent guy” meant someone I was willing to date for at least a month—which required either someone interesting to be with, or really good sex. I’d come nowhere close to finding either. So, it was either listen to Ian for the next month, or give up and fill out my profile.
“I’ll fill it out this afternoon,” I grumbled. I picked up two more balls of yarn, advance compensation for having to answer questions like ‘Would you rather go to the zoo, or watch a movie with subtitles?’ Neither, but that was never an answer. No wonder my job was so difficult.