One of my family’s favorite movies is “Fiddler on the Roof.” The 1971 musical features a half dozen memorable songs, from “If I Were a Rich Man” to “Tradition.”
As I’ve been following a friend’s unlucky dating adventures, one song that’s stuck in my head is “Matchmaker.”
Three daughters start off wishing the town matchmaker, Yenta, will find them the perfect man. As the song goes on, they realize the perfect match could be a nightmare.
Today’s singles don’t rely on Yenta to find them a mate. They rely on social media to find the ideal companion, and I’m not sure if that’s a better avenue than the old-fashioned matchmakers in every family.
Many Sunday afternoons were spent in my grandparents’ kitchen after Sunday dinner discussing the possible matches they could find for the unmarried people in the family.
“What about Mary’s son?”
“He’d be a great catch. He is 50, though.”
“Even better. He’s got a lot of money in the bank.”
I’ll admit to playing matchmaker for my sons. I thought I was dropping casual hints.
“Hey, I saw – insert name of eligible girl here – in Mass last Sunday. She’s single, you know,” I’d say. All they’d do was roll their eyes.
As the years went by with no mention of a girlfriend, I’d do my best to drop a hint about the eligible girls who were slowly but surely disappearing from my Aggie boy’s dating pool.
Usually I’d open this newspaper and see an engagement announcement for one of the girls he’d gone to high school with. I’d call him and, without even saying hello, start in with my best matchmaker voice.
“Your future wife is about to get married to someone else,” I’d say. There would be a long sigh on the other end of the phone.
“This makes about five girls who are now married to someone else and probably someone else will be spoiling my future grandchildren,” I’d say.
The Aggie boy would usually hang up at that point.
Once I asked him why he trusted an online dating app to fix him up with a girl when his mother could do the same and for free.
He did admit that the girls I chose were nice looking, smart and, let’s not forget, Catholic.
“And what’s wrong with that?” I demanded to know.
Another eye roll.
Other moms played matchmaker as well.
Years ago, I had dinner with a friend, and she looked upset. She said her daughter had just broken up with a boy she’d been dating for years. The light went on in my matchmaker brain.
“How old is your daughter?” I asked. She replied with the same age as my son. I whipped out my phone and went to the gallery.
“See this face,” I said, pointing at my Aggie boy. “He has a good job and he’s never been married.”
She took out her phone and showed me a picture of her daughter.
“She graduated from Baylor,” she said.
“Mine graduated from Texas A&M,” I replied.
We both breathed a sigh of relief we wouldn’t have to bridge the Longhorn rivalry.
“We’re Presbyterian,” she said cautiously.
“We’re Catholic. Close enough,” I said. We texted the pictures of our children to each other and I promptly texted her daughter’s picture to my son.
“Look this girl up on Facebook and do it quickly before another one of your wives marries someone else,” I texted.
That’s probably the pushiest I’ve ever been, but I now realize it was all for nothing. The Aggie boy found a wonderful woman all on his own, and they adore each other. How he managed to do that without his matchmaker mother remains a mystery.
I still have two unmarried sons and both have had less-than-pleasing results with dating apps. Maybe it’s time I remind them they have a reliable Yenta right underneath their noses.
“Oh boys, have I got a match for you…”
Denise’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org