Anyone who has ever been set up on a blind date will agree with me that nothing short of a bowel embolism even comes close to comparing to how you feel as you wait for the inevitable to occur. He'll arrive, you'll go out, one or both of you will be disappointed and one awkward goodbye later, you're back on your couch watching Sleepless in Seattle just for the pleasure of throwing popcorn at Meg Ryan and her infuriatingly indomitable face. To be fair, I did have one blind date that ended well. I was twenty three then. We stayed together for five years. We were even in the process of getting married until he met a cute blond on a day out with his football team and launched me back into spinsterhood with a toddler and ten extra kilos hanging off my waist. But, I digress.
The worst thing about a bad blind date, apart from the date itself, is having to tell the architect of the romantic plan that, not only do you not want to be set up again, but that if she was to use her character judgement in the political arena, Britney Spears would be the unquestioned leader of the not-so-free world. If she's a true friend, she might be a little hurt, but you'll both be able to laugh it off later. The situation becomes a tad more complicated when you and the would be matchmaker share a genetic bond. That's right, people, I'm talking about my mother. Undeterred by the fact that the last man she set me up with married the woman of his dreams a year after our own relationship imploded, she is still determined to ensure that her daughter finds someone to love, and is convinced that if the task falls to me, her grandson and his betrothed will be picking out strollers at Baby Co while I'm cruising for sugar daddies on Senior Dating.com. My mother is of the view that you can be friends with someone first and learn to love them later. I'm more old fashioned; if I don't have sweaty palms, starry eyes and a mental image of myself wearing nothing but his shirt within the first ten minutes of meeting him, chances are it ain't gonna work.
Yes my gut has steered me wrong in the past, leading me to fall head over heels for men who gave me nothing more than some very interesting evenings and traces of Hugo Boss on my sheets, but I would still prefer that to the agony of sitting through dinner with a cab driver who my mum described as 'Very eager' when he saw my picture, only to discover that he needed a wife to be granted residency. I visit my mother three times a week and although I'm an atheist, I always find myself closing my eyes on the journey to her house, silently praying that when I get there, there won't be any available men in the vicinity. Surely she's exaggerating, you say. Well, imagine my surprise when one day last month I arrived at her place, only to be spirited off to the bathroom where I was fussed and fretted over like I was Kate Moss doing a runway show after a McDonald's binge.
'You could have worn something nicer, love,' she sighed.
'Why,' I asked, 'Are we going to a funeral?'
She ushered me over to the window, just about breaking the glass with my face in her effort to give me the best view possible of a hot young guy who was painting her neighbour's house. I grinned. Then the thunder claps sounded.
'Oh, and I've set it all up with his dad.'
'Excuse me?' I shrieked.
My mother, pimp extraordinaire, was laying the ground work while I was still peeling my face off the pillow that morning. It turned out that the house painters were a father son team, and that the father was just as concerned about the lack of traffic leading to his son's bedroom as my mother was about not becoming a grandmother for the second time. It was at this point that I reminded my mother that I wasn't sixteen, and that there was little or no dowry to be traded in exchange for my hand.
To anyone reading this who doesn't find the idea of a blind date more terrifying than a pelvic exam, I applaud your courage. You have decided not to limit your options and who knows, your matchmaker might know your type better than you do yourself. I, however, am going to continue to rely on my questionable judgement, and have a blast while I'm at it.