Several weekends ago, I attended the wedding of a dear friend, and found myself seated with the bridal party at the reception.
We had just begun our meal when one of the bridesmaids looked from me to the best man, who was seated next to me, and asked significantly “So. . .are you single?”
I did what I always do in awkward restaurant settings. I said, “HAHAHAHAHA. . .” in a high-pitched and mirthless voice, then took a huge gulp of water, hoping that if I didn’t choke and die, at least I would have to swallow long enough that I could formulate an answer by the end of it.
Thankfully the conversation moved on while I turned red and tried not to snort water on my pasta, but the situation did serve as a reminder that I am now at the age at which it is considered socially appropriate for other people to shamelessly and blatantly grub about in my love life (or lack thereof).
It’s not that I’m against being set up. If someone called me up and said, “Hey, I know this great, godly guy who is interested in full-time ministry and social justice, who likes to likes to think philosophically and is curious about the world around him, and who has a tolerance of hippie tendencies,” I would be all about it.
Unfortunately, such guys are either at a premium, or I don’t present myself as the type of person who would be attracted to that kind of guy, because. . .well, allow me to present to you a show I like to call “Matchmaking (21st century edition)”:
1) The savior complex
Phone rings. I pick up. “Hello?”
Friend: “Lauren! How are you? Listen, I can’t talk long right now, but I just wanted to let you know that I’ve met this great guy, and I think you two would be perfect together!!! And he’ll be a great husband–he really, really, really, wants a wife.”
Me: “Oh. . .scraping the bottom of the barrel, is he?”
Friend: “Well. . .I mean. . .no, that’s not the way I meant it. . .but he’s a really great guy. Really great. And I feel so badly for him, because he so lonely, and just really wants to be married.”
Me: “Wow. . .as much as I appreciate the underlying sentiment of “you’ll do in a bind,” I think I’ll pass.”
Friend: “But LAUREN! It’s the Christian thing to do? WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?”
Me: “Jesus was single.”
2) The SURPRISE!! method
Friend calls “Hey, I know this guy who’d be great for you.”
He actually sounds like a great guy.
But that’s all that happens. This friend never provides a single chance for you to meet or otherwise have a meaningful interaction, until the day she invites you over to help her move/clean her attic/do some other incredibly unsexy task. On that day, as you come bounding downstairs for lunch smelling like the Incredible Hulk with dust coating your eyebrows and your hayfever making your eyes and nose race to see which can leak more–for whatever reason, this was the first time your sweet, impulsive friend thought to invite Mr. Hottie McHotterson over to meet you. And he mistakes the cute neighbor girl for you, and you have too much pride to correct him, but you make a mental note to send them a really, really, ugly clock for a wedding gift.
3) The “I’m having a party, and you’re the entertainment!” method.
The the two of you “just happen” to be at the same party after hearing about each other for weeks. Your mutual friend makes some significant glances and faces from you to him and back again until both of you realize that the entire room is staring at you. Neither of you knew that this was supposed to be your relational launch party, but making the most of a horrible situation, you approach each other while everyone in the room waits with bated breath. You shake hands, mumble introductions, and laugh nervously.
Him: “So I guess. . .we’re like. . .supposed to fall in love or something.”
You: “Yeah. . .”
Him: “Ok. . .well. . .”
You: “Yeah. . .”
At this point, realizing that there is no way out of the agony inherent to the situation, the two of you separate with a “see ya” and in the name of junior high spend the rest of the evening studiously avoiding on another.
Cut. And that’s a wrap.
4) The “cleanse my guilt” method.
Friend: “Lauren, I know Mitch and I didn’t work out, but I think he’d be perfect for you.”
Me: “Really? How come?”
Friend: Well, it’s just that you’ve been single for so long now.”
Friend: “And Mitch is really hurting since I broke up with him. . .I think he really needs some support right now!”
Me: “Ah. Boyfriend leftovers! My favorite.”
Friend: “That’s not what I meant–”
Me: “Didn’t you tell me he was ‘the worst boyfriend ever?’ ”
Friend: “Yeah, but that was for ME! I bet he would make YOU a great boyfriend!”
As the matchmake in Fiddler on the Roof said, “Not every person in the world can be a Yenta. . .” In my 21st century world, it seems more true that NO person in the world can be a Yenta.