A Match Made On Palmerston Avenue

Matchmaking is not a new concept. In fact, it is one of the oldest professions in history. In some foreign cultures, it continues to be deeply woven into the ethnic fibre as a common practice. In North America, the mention of Norman Jewison’s film adaptation of the 1964 Broadway musical “Fiddler on the Roof” may have some singing: “Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match…find me a find, catch me a catch…”. For others, the word matchmaker conjures up images of Patti Stanger and her popular reality TV show. And still, for others, the word means very little.

Whether your knowledge of the industry and profession is limited or extensive, and whatever your opinions on the subject may be…I hope you enjoy this story.

It was Fall. The year was 1999. We were still years away from social networking sites. People reconnected with each other the old-fashioned way…through friends and not through Facebook. Thankfully, in 1999, this was facilitated by way of e-mail. One day I was reading an e-mail from a friend, Danielle, which had been sent to multiple people. I’m not sure why, but I scanned her distribution list to see who else the e-mail had gone to. That is when I came across an old high school friend’s name. A male high school friend. A male named Jeff. When we were in high school my boyfriend and I would often double-date with Jeff and his girlfriend. We had lost contact for no reason other than having gone on separate paths after graduation.

I initiated contact that day via e-mail and our friendship status was almost immediately reinstated. We began to spend a considerable amount of time together sharing dating war stories, drinking copious amounts of alcohol, and eating great food. I think it’s the only platonic relationship I’ve ever had. Danielle continued to be a mutual friend of both of ours and through Jeff we reconnected with many other long-lost high school friends. It was a really fun time in my life. We were young, carefree and professional singles with our whole lives ahead of us and very few responsibilities.

As I got to know the adult version of Jeff I started to believe that he would be a good fit for my younger and only sister, Jodi. I cannot explain why, other than to say it was a strong and consistent gut feeling. I’m sure I had some rationale at the time because I was able to successfully put the bug in Jeff’s ear. The problem was that when I first brought up the idea with Jeff – around October 1999 – Jodi was in a relationship that I had not been aware of, which was unusual. Come to think of it, I never did end up meeting that person. When I initially broached the idea with Jodi – while she was dating this other person – she made a face and said something like: “Wasn’t he kind of nerdy in high school?” I took great offense to this. First of all, because he was not. Second of all, because he was my friend and, therefore, a reflection on me…so he couldn’t be a nerd. (To all self-proclaimed nerds out there…please do not be offended. I embraced my own nerdiness, and the nerdiness of others, in my early 30s and am completely pro-nerd).

I do not remember all of the details but once my sister ended her relationship with mystery man, I was able to broker a deal – her first date with Jeff – in January 2000. I think they went to Jack Astor’s. I’m not sure why that stands out or that it’s relevant. What I remember clearly is the following. My phone ringing around 10:00 p.m. on the evening of their first date. I was sitting beside it (my phone) with bated breath, of course. It was Jeff. He was excited. I could tell. “Dude, your sister is adorable, not gonna lie to you” (is it too late to tell him – all of these years later – that I do not like being called “dude”?). He went on to say: “She is so cute, everything you said she was, I was not disappointed at all”. I had to cut in though because my other line was going. I answered it. It was Jodi, naturally. If this were a movie, imagine a split-screen that alternated between Jodi/me and Jeff/me. Jodi was giddy and I could feel her shy smile over the phone. I could tell she was beaming. I said: “Sooooooooo? How was it?”. She tried to sound casual as she said: “It was good. He’s really nice. And funny. Was he cute in high school? I always thought he was nerdy-looking but he’s really cute. Who are you on the other line with”. Uh, no one? I told her it was Jeff. I could feel her blushing. She begged me not to say anything to him. I think she may have even asked me not to tell him she was on the other line. I was getting excited. This was soooooo good. Wait. Uh-oh. Did I just hear her voice go down? The way it does when she’s about to be critical? “Stace, I just…”. I had to cut her off. I felt that I had left Jeff hanging on for too long on the other line. “One sec Jode”. I went back to Jeff and told him that it was Jodi on the other line. He was dying to know what she was saying. I tried to play it cool but just couldn’t – I was too excited for both of them. I had SUCH a good feeling. So, I told him that she said the date went well and thought he was cute. Then I asked what his next steps were. Silence. Awkward silence actually. What was this about I wondered. After some stuttering and beating around the bush, Jeff asked if my sister was a mute because “Dude, as cute as she is – and man is she ever SO CUTE – she didn’t really seem to have much to say”. He said he wanted to take her out again but wasn’t sure if there was any point because he was worried that she wouldn’t be enough of a conversationalist for him. While I didn’t feel defensive, I did feel obligated to explain to him a little bit about my sister Jodi. How shy she was. How she had to deal with me as an older sister…always hogging the spotlight, always rebelling, always talking, etc. How she takes a little longer than him or I to warm up and feel comfortable around new people, and how she did really used to be called “motor mouth” as a young child, when she could sneak words in edgewise. I felt like I was delivering a sales pitch and I think he was buying it. I put him on hold again and went back to Jodi. “Sorry Jode, what were you going to say before?”. She didn’t quite beat around the bush the same way that Jeff had as she said: “He’s much cuter than I had anticipated and I really enjoyed his company but I have a question for you.   Does he ever shut the _____ up?” I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. A real LOL. She, of course, didn’t understand exactly why I was laughing. I managed to convince her that he was capable of shutting the f*ck up, just as I managed to convince him that she was capable of speaking. PHEW! Catastrophe averted!!! Date number two followed shortly thereafter and I’m thrilled to report that Jeff is officially my brother-in-law. Jodi and Jeff got married on September 2nd, 2002 and have three beautiful boys…my ridiculously cute nephews.

What is the moral of the story? Simple. A third, objective party is often required, yet rarely sought, for daters to work their way out of the singledom maze. Whether that objective perspective comes from a professional matchmaker, a friend or a relative, or another third party, this story – to me – is a perfect example of how important feedback is during the dating process.  It makes me wonder how many opportunities for love go unnoticed or unrealized because the sharing of information is replaced with incorrect assumptions and preconceived notions.

Jeff could’ve easily walked away in search of a Chattier Cathy and my sister could’ve easily walked away in search of someone who she perceived to be less self-absorbed. I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to prevent that from happening and am happy that I believed in, and listened to, my gut. They are a beautiful couple who make an effort each and every day to work at their marriage and should be held up as an example of what a committed and loving relationship looks like. Love you guys!!!!

Inspiring a Love Movement …