The sound you just heard, from far across the Atlantic, is singer
Sheryl Crowe patting herself on the back. With both hands and possibly
also her foot. You see, Sheryl has managed to take a load off all our
minds by playing cupid for Jennifer Anniston and successfully setting
her up with musician John Mayer.
This is terrific news and not just for Jen-John. On behalf of all of us
who’ve been increasingly worried about Jennifer since, you know, that
Brad and Angelina business, thank you Sheryl. We’ll all sleep easier
now Jennifer has someone to distract her from her ex husband’s rampant
sex life and prolific breeding.
It’s also heartening for anyone who’s ever tried to set up their
friends because it’s official: match-making is hot again. After a
decade of flirting with Internet dating, it’s back to the future. The
personal touch is once again in favour.
I am quite possibly the world’s worst matchmaker. I lack subtlety,
empathy and finesse. I’m impatient and demanding. I have no attention
to detail. In short, I’m what Bridget Jones identified as a Smug
Married who has totally forgotten what it’s like to be single. My
background assumption is always: “You’re both single! There you go!
Take the following conversation I had with a guy who I set up with one of my girlfriends. With signature restraint, I called him at 8am the morning after their blind date.
Me: So……? How did it go?
Him: (awkward) Um, well, she was nice.
Me: (annoyed already): What do you MEAN ‘nice’?
Him: (clearing throat) Well, she’s… nice but I just don’t think we have much in common.
Me: (pissed off now) But you have lots in common! You’re both…. single. And you’re both in your thirties and you both know me. There! Three things in common at least!”
Several months earlier, after setting up a girlfriend with a different guy I knew, I found myself saying this:
“I really think you should keep an open mind about him. Persevere! Just because you didn’t find him attractive…. I mean, chemistry doesn’t have to be there from the start necessarily! Once you get to know someone, it can develop and you can suddenly find yourself wanting to have sex! You can! Go on! He’s such a great guy!”
The subtext to both these conversations was something like this….
Them: “Sorry, nice try but I’m just not that into him/her”
Me: “Don’t be so selfish and picky, dammit! No wonder you’re single.”
Rationally, I understand this is wrong, unfair and unrealistic. My expectations are always stupidly high. When I match-make two people, I expect them to have instant chemistry, fall rapidly in love and then at their wedding, make a heartfelt toast of gratitude to me that inspires a standing ovation. That’s all.
Slight problem though. So far, my attempted matches have never led to a second date let alone sex or commitment. Heck, I don’t think I’ve even managed to orchestrate a drunken pash between two horny singles. That’s how rubbish I am.
My inadequacies were highlighted a couple of weeks ago when I watched a true pro at work. We both know this terrific man, divorced and looking for a serious relationship. When an old friend of mine came out to Australia for an extended holiday, the matchmaking pro and I agreed we should set them up. I stood back in awe and took notes as she worked diligently.
The difference between us? My modus operandi is to hurriedly hype one person to the other, gloss over any unpleasant historical details and negative character traits and stay very big-picture positive. Vague and embellished. Enthusiastic and pushy.
But The Pro, who has several successful matches (including one marriage) and whose own marriage is the result of a set-up, takes the opposite approach.
She says the key to matchmaking is to put thought into it. Not brain-surgery but thought and attention to detail. Like identifying things they might have in common (beyond my criteria of, say, both living in the same hemisphere and breathing oxygen) and making sure they have complimentary or compatible personalities. BEFORE you introduce them.
She also believes it’s vital to give each party a very detailed brief about the other including a recent photo. “Don’t leave anything out” she insists.
There was no chance to leave anything out when Sheryl set up Jen-John. Most humans under 40 have seen their pictures. And the Internet can helpfully fill in details of career and past relationships. But I’m sure Sheryl still had to fill in some more personal blanks and answer some pre-date questions such as this…
Jennifer: Two words: Jessica Simpson.
Sheryl: Yes, yes, I know. That wasn’t his finest hour but hey, we all have some duds in our ex files. Remember that model you dated who may have been gay?
John: OK, so she’s hot and funny and warm and smart. But what’s with the endless soulful walks on the beach with her dog? Is she really over…. you know.
Sheryl: She walks her dog on the beach because she has a house in Malibu and she does sometimes look at the ocean but I promise she’s not always thinking about him. Or them. Or the rainbow kiddies. Mostly she’s just thinking about what she’s going to have for dinner!
And hopefully? The rest will be history.