32: The Matchmaker

32: The Matchmaker

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Married Life!

The Matchmaker

He that would the daughter win, must with the mother first begin.

~English Proverb

With the hairdryer going during our phone call it was possible that I hadn’t heard her correctly so I turned it off in time to hear her say, “So I gave him your number and he’ll probably call you on Sunday evening.”

“Mom,” I said with quiet anger, “who exactly will be calling me?”

“You’ll love him. He’s delicious,” she cheered.

I turned the hairdryer back on, first to muffle the rest of the conversation and second to dry my hair so that I could leave my apartment and go over to my mother’s to kill her.

At twenty-one, I had been on my own for two uneventful and relatively successful years, although according to my mother I was living like a rat in a dark hole.

Yes, my studio apartment had a shower stall in the kitchen and yes, my laundry basket doubled for my bookshelf and coat closet, but I was living without any parental assistance (financially at least) and working my buns off to stay proud and independent. I often times reminded my mother that it was her splendid job of raising me right that had given birth to this competent and newly minted young adult.

For some reason though my mother lacked confidence in two of my abilities — choosing the right foods and choosing the right men.

I’ll give her the one in the nutrition department as I lived entirely on pasta and peanut butter. After all, they provided the necessary protein without the unnecessary expense.

When it came to the romance department however, I was never quite sure what she was quibbling about.

After all I had had just two boyfriends in my life thus far. Kevin, my first true love, forgot to mention to me that he was gay. When I chased him half across the country to find out what was bothering him he introduced me to Paul and told me I was the problem. You can’t fault me for this outcome though somehow my mom managed to question my judgment as if I should have figured this all out at the tender age of sixteen.

The second love of my life, my boyfriend Wally, loved me through senior prom weekend and then decided (with urging from his mother) that he was too young to go steady and needed to play the field.

It was then and there that I developed this strong belief: true love existed only in the minds and imaginations of talented authors.

When I arrived at her apartment, my mom was humming softly while braiding my younger sister’s hair.

“Hi honey, I didn’t know you were stopping by.”

“Could you please leave the room?” I asked my younger sister. “I need to talk to Mom alone.” I realized I couldn’t kill her… yet. After a heaping serving of meatloaf and mashed potatoes I calmed down long enough to listen to her story.

“I was attending a meeting at the local library and the moderator asked for comments and questions after his speech. This very handsome young man raised his hand and said some things that sounded as if they had come directly from your mouth. I couldn’t believe my ears! The two of you have so much in common and I thought that you absolutely have to meet.” I left without saying goodbye but I think (although I’m not 100% certain about this) I called her to complain again as soon as I got home.

When I regained my composure the following week I found out more details. My mom had become enthralled with this mystery man and approached him near Biographies as he was preparing to leave. I’m aghast at what supposedly took place next. She signaled for him to come over with the “bended and slightly moving pointer finger gesture” accompanied by the “psssst” sound.

Apparently, (whether through kindness or embarrassment) he walked towards her and the following exchange took place.

“I have a daughter you would love.”

“Thank you but I’m really not in the market for dating right now.”

“You’re not married, are you?”

“No, actually I’m recently divorced from my childhood sweetheart and I have two very young children as well.”

I guess he thought the above information would be substantial enough to send my mother home.

Oh no, not my mother. She proceeded with gusto!

“You seem very bright and I love what you said in there.”

A nod from the kind stranger.

“May I ask how old you are?”

“I’ll be thirty-two.”

“My daughter is only twenty-one but she’s incredibly mature for her age and I would love for you to meet her. The two of you seem to have so much in common. Here’s her phone number. Why don’t you give her a call next Sunday evening? She’s usually home by seven or eight.”

“By the way my name is Beth and my daughter’s name is Lisa.”

“I’m Stu. It was nice to meet you.”

He didn’t call the following Sunday (much to my mother’s chagrin) because I imagine he wanted to avoid any daughter whose mother had to go out canvassing for her love life.

Unfortunately for all concerned though, they met up again two weeks later and this time there was no avoiding the inevitable. Stu approached my mother first and assured her he would be calling soon.

He called three days later. I thought he sounded very nasal (which I dislike immensely) and his name reminded me of beef. Nothing he said sounded remotely like anything I would ever think or say, so the “you have so much in common” comment lost its credibility. We agreed to meet the following evening at a local café.

I decided that I would have to prevent any future matchmaking attempts on the part of my mother. My plan was to embarrass and humiliate myself so that my mother would be embarrassed and humiliated too, and would never try to be a matchmaker for me again.

The evening of the dreaded date I borrowed a top from my landlady who just happened to be sixth months pregnant at the time. It looked like an elderly woman’s housedress and managed to cover up any shape I might have had. Next I proceeded to plaster tons of hair gel on top of my head, creating a Mohawk effect, and then I tied my long hair into a tight ponytail to accentuate the look. I used enough black eyeliner to be competing with Morticia of The Addams Family fame. For the finishing touch I wore striking red lipstick that would have made Bozo proud.

Stu did not describe himself and my mother’s description of him could not be trusted, so I sat in the predetermined location to be sure we spotted one another.

An unappealing man walked in, so I figured it was Stu. But he passed me by. One bullet dodged; one to go.

Moments later in walked the man I wished my mother would have realized was my type — rugged and muscular, with blue eyes and a boyish grin.

“Lisa?”

I looked directly at him.

No way, I thought. This can’t be happening.

“Stu?” (I think I whispered but I can’t be sure.)

He smiled and shook my hand.

I excused myself and bolted to the ladies room. Down came the hair. Off came the eyeliner. On came a delicate shade of pink lip-gloss. The muumuu had to stay. That or risk indecent exposure.

I think I tried to breathe deeply. I don’t think I was successful.

It was too crowded in the café and Stu suggested the diner across the street.

We sat for four hours and shared our life stories and even some of our secrets.

He told me he gets cold sores every few months. I told him I would never marry a man who gets cold sores and drinks chocolate milk.

He told me he hadn’t asked me to. I told him he would.

There were no future matchmaking attempts on the part of my mother. She got it right on the very first try. This year Stu and I will celebrate our thirty-third wedding anniversary. The children Stu had mentioned to my mother so very long ago are now forty and forty-three with five magnificent children between them. Stu’s childhood sweetheart (and ex-wife) is one of our dearest friends.

And the woman who made all this joy possible for me will turn eighty-eight this month.

And don’t think she doesn’t remind me on a regular basis what a marvelous job she did indeed.

 

~Lisa Leshaw

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