An example. At a wedding, the best man - one of those guys who's not a relative but a version of that guy who seems to turn up at every family gathering - introduced me to the dashing older brother of one of the groomsmen. We talked, we danced, we nibbled, I watched in awe as he smoothly traded place cards so he could sit with me. He was witty and charming and didn't enumerate his early decision college acceptances - this last having been the lengthy and only topic of a match someone had made for my friend Bernadette a week earlier.
Time came to stand around a decorated car and shriek and throw confetti, and my father started muttering about beating the traffic. When Pop was thinking about beating traffic, you could pick up the vibes from across a crowded room. Or stadium. Or arena. Or a mid-sized state or country. I got up to leave and my new crush walked with me to my parents, where he shook hands with them and otherwise demonstrated manners. Pop did not believe in asking personal questions at casual meetings - "it gives them false hopes." Of what? "That they might think someone finds them interesting." So as the young man helped me on with my coat (yes, that long ago) he asked for my phone number, then oh so romantically scribbled it on his palm, and asked where we lived. I told him. He frowned at me as if he was thinking hard, and then shrugged. "That's too far," he murmured. I froze and while I blinked he disappeared.
Of course I reported this peculiar event to my parents, and Pop surveyed the field and was soon seen holding a frightened and no-longer-quite-so smooth young guy by the upper arm. As we headed for our car, Pop announced that there was only one reason that anyone couldn't travel miles to see his daughter, and therefore Pop had told him that if he showed up anywhere near me he would regret it. I steadied my voice. "What reason would that be?" "He's on parole," said Pop. "And now point out the jerk who introduced you."
Fix-up stories, misbegotten introductions - everybody's got 'em. Jess got a call from a woman she had never met, who said she was a second cousin of Jess' mother's and had a cousin on the other side of the family who was perfect for Jess. Whom she had never met, people!. - the urge to fix-up has no boundaries. The guy was a doctor, a widower, a doctor, tall, a doctor, not yet bald, kids but they were over 21 and lived kind and productive lives out of town, enjoyed sports and travel... of course there's always a "but--" most people wouldn't consider this a problem, BUT I thought I'd mention it -- both his first two wives were institutionalized ..." Jess thanked the cousin and kept her distance.
Linda is a realtor. She made a date with a guy she met on line, and at the last minute decided that no matter how good the guy sounded, she just couldn't do this. Just not ready. Before she canceled, she asked her colleague Amanda if Amanda wanted to go. Amanda - same height, hair & eye color, works in same office - thought, well, why not? If things click, it'll be a funny story. If things don't, well, still a funny story. Well, the girls are still laughing. The guy was the janitor in the building the girls worked in. So everything he said about his job ("real estate"), his interests ("collecting antiques"), his personality ("clean-cut") .... was sorta true, only not true enough.
And Rosie. Graduated with highest honors, came to the big city, good job, good prospects. Her mother warned her that the nephew of one of their neighbors was going to call her, and she should feel free to ignore the fix-up attempt because mom's instincts told her that if this guy was as wonderful as his aunt said, at age 30 he wouldn't need his aunt's help. Rosie found that she actually liked chatting with him, enjoyed meeting him after work, liked going places with him. One evening she actually went to his apartment with him. The apartment was a small studio on the second floor front of a large building on a major crosstown street - this is NYese for you can't open the windows, noise, dust, car & bus pollution. The apartment was furnished with a futon, milk crates, motel towels, frat house beer mugs.
So ultimately Rosie got married and had a lovely family and a darling husband who adored her as much as she adored him, and a house that they fixed up the way they liked it, and she worked part-time as a well-paid consultant for her old firm and the kids actually got college scholarships, one an academic fellowship, one for soccer.
And then her darling husband got a terrible disease and died. Oh, let's skip the details, of course they're awful. You've probably guessed that her phone started ringing - as she said - before the ink was dry on the check to the undertaker - this was an old-fashioned expression of Rosie's mom's, Rosie had of course charged the whole funeral and related expenses to get the miles. Rosie hung up on the fix-up calls, deleted the fix-up emails.
A year or so later, she ran into the guy she'd fled when she was 23. They had a nice lunch, splitting the bill. They agreed they'd both grown up and wouldn't even mention that last evening. Etc., etc., etc., and one night he asked her to dinner at his place. Of course, you guessed it - he was still in the same grim studio, with the same grim "home accessories."
"Oh, my," says Rosie, "love what you've done with the place..." and heads for the staircase because the elevator's out of order. After all, being shallow had led her to a wonderful life with a wonderful guy, for a while at least, and obviously this evening was a sign that she could now have a wonderful life on her own. For a while, at least.