Should I be insulted?

I asked my friends to set me up and they did -- with a bunch of losers!

Published July 22, 2004 7:32PM (EDT)

Dear Cary,

I'm a woman in my late 30s and have never had any trouble meeting men, but in the past few years I've seen all my friends pair off to live in couple-land. I'm ready to settle down, too, and as I'm moving among fewer eligible men, I put it to a few of my friends to keep me in mind if they met anyone with whom they thought I might be a good match.

The results have been appalling. I was introduced to a 59-year-old ski bum who lives out of a van in the off season; a suicidally depressed 30-something who had just dropped out of a tony private law school, $50,000 in hock to it, with only one semester to go; and a limo driver who writes excruciatingly bad poetry and takes it with him everywhere he goes and makes people listen to it.

Should I be insulted by this? I'm thin, I'm fit, I have a decent job, good friends and interesting hobbies. What would make people who know me really well think I'd be a good match for these losers with whom I have nothing in common? Why don't they introduce me to people like me? Or them? Are they trying to tell me something? Did I miss the marriage/couple boat and now have to set my sights much, much lower?


Dear Baffled,

I hope you will permit me to observe, while meaning no disrespect, that the form of your tale is classically comic. You obviously have a knack for character sketch. You even wrote it in threes, a traditional joke format. It makes me wonder if you've ever thought of writing for television.

Seriously. Are you aware of the subtle touches you added to your portraits to give them just the right cutting edge? He dropped out, OK, but with one semester to go? He writes bad poetry, OK, but he forces people to listen to it?

I recognize that you have a real problem, and I will try to make some sensible suggestions. But I did want to draw your attention to the admirably succinct way you drew the outlines of three archetypal losers. Nonfiction -- that is, real life -- is rarely so beautifully compressed as this, so I have no doubt that if you continue to date, you will have other experiences. Meanwhile, it must make you feel crazy! You must be asking yourself just what in hell is going on. Is there some conspiracy afoot? It would seem that way. But it is more likely that you have simply encountered some singular, never-to-be-repeated phenomenon: A triple loser cluster. How you did it we'll never know. It's the Opposite World equivalent of hitting three holes in one.

If it's really important to find out what your girlfriends think of you, you can ask them what they were thinking. But if you simply let them set you up with a few more men, the sheer law of averages is going to improve your chances. I don't see how there could be that many more extravagant losers out there. It may be that your friends just can't tell the difference, or aren't paying attention. Or they may have unconsciously steered you to the losers out of resentment or a feeling of competition, to keep the good ones to themselves even if they themselves are already committed. Who knows? But why not play the odds? I mean, how much worse could it get?

You don't have to depend on your girlfriends, though. There are lots of ways to find men. The main thing is to just keep looking. Don't let some very weird weather throw you off. Keep at it. Keep refining your methods. Maintain a sense of humor. And try writing a spec sketch for "Two and a Half Men."

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