Monday, 6 December 2010

Scary the matchmaker

It has been too long, I know. But I have been ridiculously busy. You understand. The pre-Christmas chaos has swallowed me whole. I have been running around trying to buy presents, attend parties and various Christmas bazaars and fairs; and do some work in between. 

I also tried to set up some friends. Clearly, I am not good at this. I am beginning to grow respect for matchmakers. It is a hard, ungrateful and frustrating job, let me tell you.

At first, I tried to set this bloke up with an Azeri girl. He said he wanted to go out with someone non-British for a change. I should have known, of course, that she would not like him. Back home, people often refer to someone they respect as highly educated.  The whole highly educated notion creates arrogance and snobbism that divides people in its own, post-Soviet way. Of course, we did not have upper or middle class as such, so we found our way to create classes and social levels. Highly-educated people were too proud to hang out with anyone who, in their eyes, was not educated enough. So it did not matter to this Azeri girl that the guy I introduced her to had a successful business of his own, and was working hard to make a pretty decent living for himself. He was not educated enough for her. To be honest, it did not surprise me and I thought to myself that I was being silly trying to set up people from such different backgrounds and with such different expectations. Never mind, I thought. This is a cultural thing.

So, not allowing the bad luck in matchmaking my single middle-aged friends defeat me so easily, I tried again.
This time, I thought I would do better. The girl who expressed interest in meeting Husband’s friend was not Azeri . I explained to her in advance that the guy in question was a pretty blokey bloke. I told her he was very normal. She did not seem fazed by that.

I thought I prepared them both for the evening. I have never been on a blind date and was intrigued by the things both parties wanted to know in advance.

‘How thin are his thighs?’ She asked. ‘How wide is her waist?’ he wanted to know. 

‘But forget all that,’ my friend said. ‘I should have asked you a better question. Would you do him?’
Come on! I said. What sort of question is that? I could not really answer in any way that would sound right, could I. If I said I would not do him, she would question why I thought he was good enough for her, if I did not find him attractive. If I said I certainly would, what sort of a married slut would that make me in her eyes?

But, in the end, I felt bad because it did not work out. Again. My friend decided, after having met the guy, that she actually always preferred men in suits. Of course, I wished she had told me that openly before. Never mind how skinny his thighs were, as long as he wrapped them up in some grey office trousers, she should have said. But you see, people don’t like admitting that they might be a bit snobbish, after all. Personally, I don’t know why, because I have no problem with that. For example, I don’t like chushkas. Husband hates it when I say that. You see, Husband, despite being a highly educated middle class white boy, has this bizarre fascination with common people. He loves listening to their life stories-the rougher the better. He enjoys their company and finds them genuine and fun. If I were a shrink, I could have analyzed this strange tendency of his, but as it is, I am just grateful that he does not aspire to live in a trailer.

But back to my matchmaking story. My girlfriend realized that, after all, she preferred office guys in ties and suits.  She wanted more sophistication, more class so to speak. Wow, I thought to myself. So we are back to the highly educated issue, even though I was not dealing with an Azeri this time. 

And now, I had to tell the guy. And I felt terrible about it. Now, having been told twice he was not their type, the poor guy was going to think something must be wrong with him. Whereas it really was just all my fault.  ‘I must be pretty bad at this...’ he texted me and I thought Oh, crap. Not really. There really is nothing wrong with the guy. He is not common, he is not stupid, and he is not unattractive.  He is successful in what he does, whether he is wearing jeans or office trousers. And I am sure that he will, sooner or later, find a woman who would appreciate him the way he is. I just hope he gets someone else to set him up next time.


  1. Matchmaking is hell, been there, done that, got my share of BS from all involved. You are exactly right, people never tell openly what they really want and don't want in a mate. Most people want to look better than they really are and won't admit to their true reasons and motivations. Which explains why they need matchmaking in the first place I suppose :)?

  2. I wonder what would have been this guy's flaw had he been wearing a very elegant suit? Just as you do, I also hope this guy finds someone.
    In Spanish, we have the word 'celestina' for matchmakers. The name comes from "La celestina", comedy written in XVI century about a matchmaker whose name was Celestina (celeste = light blue). Celestino is used for male matchmakers.
    And we have another word, an ugly one: alcahueta, which can literally be translated as female pimp. Male version is alcahuete.

  3. Maybe it's a male/female thing but I can't imagine any circumstances in which I'd try matchmaking. By the way, I assume you know Jarvis Cocker's song 'Common People'. Maybe listening to that would explain Husband's (admirable to me) preferences.

  4. @Nata: Yes, a pointless attempt, really. Won't do it again.

    @Bill: Yes, of course. I mentioned this song on this blog before, when I wrote about common people in azerbaijan and here. Clearly, it is one of my favourite topics, besides religion and other fun stuff. I just hope husband does not want to sleep with common people. Because that would be more worrying. :)

  5. An attractive young woman cann't be matchmaker.In my opinion ,this business for geeezers.Keep your word,don't do it again,please.

  6. @ Bill: I don't really understand what makes Azeri's husband's preferences admirable. Indeed, how can preferences ever be admirable? Is it more admirable to like fat women than thin? Or thin women than fat? Is it more admirable to care about birds or pigs? Maybe I'm missing something.

  7. @Mark. I obviously expressed myself badly. I simply meant that, given the choice between spending time with cosy middle class people (which is what I am and what I do most of the time) and spending time with the 'common people' of Jarvis Cocker's song, I'd choose the latter. My background is that of a 'common person' and I've always felt there's greater honesty and legitimacy there. It's not starry-eyed socialist idealism, simply a gut feeling and good memories. But it's only my opinion and I make no claim that it holds any universal truth.

  8. @Bill: I think that perhaps, it is difficult to describe what one means by "common". I have a clear picture of a certain type in my head, and it definitely does not mean that anyone NOT middle class is a "chushka"- in my opinion. There are a lot of very nice normal people, rich or poor,who might know how to hold a fish knife or not, and that does not- IMHO- make them either common or not. But there are some people who speak in a way it makes me cringe. who spit on pavements (back home quite a lot) and do other pretty disgusting things that I can't even list here... Also, just rough, it it makes sense. I dont like those and I call them chushkas. But as I said, it is a difficult one to explain as we all must have our own understanding of what common actually is.

  9. @ Bill: Oh, I see. I have always been lower class myself, and while I have a sense that people from the upper classes are disconnected from reality, with skewed perceptions of what is civilized or even possible (e.g. "How could anyone survive on $5 a day??") I haven't found the lower orders to be particularly honest. In my experience they're more rugged, more materialistic, more tough-minded, and less educated or theoretical in their interests. Generally speaking, while we share a common core of perception and experience, I can't really talk to them about anything. It's easier for me to talk to people from the upper classes, but our sentiments are often out of sync. Probably moreso even than Scary, I am foreign here, foreign there, and foreign everywhere.

    @ Scary: Just based on my own observations, lower class urbanites don't spit on sidewalks, but they do use more profanity (and atrocious grammar), smoke more and drink more, and are more prone to resolving conflicts with violence. On the other hand, the lower classes of rural areas, who are generally known as "white trash" seem better behaved, probably because they are quite religious, although their possessions tend to moulder in various states of dilapidation.

    The prototypical chushka you're talking about brings to mind what might happen to white trash when religion is taken away. Absent the desire to appear prosocial or "buy into the system," it is easy for me to imagine them living a lifestyle of impoverished hedonism. Azerbaijan must be an interesting place!