By Kat Kiefer-Newman
I’m no Cupid. There are some things I am very good at, but I am seriously no Cupid. Nor am I a Yenta, a Mi-Ai, a Sensale, a Casamentera, a marriage broker, The Old Man Under the Moon, or The Millionaire Matchmaker. Despite my lack of prowess as a romantic go-between, I am regularly called upon to set people up. It gets a little weird when the one asking is one of my male students and the one being inquired about is one of my daughters. I know there’s a long tradition of mothers setting up daughters, but I’m not one of those mothers (here’s an article about actress Teri Hatcher’s mom setting her up).
I know for a hard fact that setting up my daughters with my students just can’t be a good idea. First, there’s a real boundary that’s instantly crossed between my work life and my home life. But Kat, you say, you write a weekly blog about how you live in that crossing. True enough, and that’s partly why the set-ups have happened. I want to suggest, though, that reading about my family’s quirks, habits, interactions, and pastimes is nonetheless quite different from personally experiencing all of that close-up and as a participant.
Even if you don’t agree that it’s a bad idea (I know, some people believe that love truly can conquer all), there’s still a certain amount of strangeness attached to the idea of bringing together my students with the two young women I have birthed and raised. My daughters, though, are very lovely and smart and my male students can’t always help themselves – so it has happened.
Whenever the love bug bites someone near me, and I am called upon to participate in the fix-up, I can’t help but wonder when is it all right to match make, and when should you butt-out? There are articles and articles online about this. If you want the basics, try this one. Here’s a cute one that tells you how to fix a bad fix-up. Finally, for those absolutely transfixed with this topic, here’s a link to a book called Secrets of a Fix-Up Fanatic by Susan Shapiro.
People love love. People want to believe in love, and they spend a lot of time (and money) working for and at love. This theory of mine is bourn out by the plethora of online dating sites. Patti Stanger (the previously mentioned Millionaire Matchmaker) has made a career out of fixing people up. Watching her show on the Bravo Channel is as close as I ever want to get to blind dates. When students insist (and sometimes they want to meet students from my other classes as well as meeting my daughters) I turn it into a writing assignment: research methods for meeting people, or research online dating services, or research blind dates versus dating your friends. This usually cures the lovesickness in my classes.
Because I know you’re wondering, my students’ papers tell me that eChemistry, eHarmony, OKCupid and Match.com are the best online dating websites. All four have pay and non-pay options. All of them tend to use some kind of personality test that helps ascertain compatibility. Do they actually work? That seems to be debatable, depending on who you ask and when you ask that person. This essay assignment never fails to make for fun classroom discussions, that’s for sure.
When all the fix-ups, blind dates, online matches, friend mate brokering, etc… fail, then maybe we can remember what online personality, Sandra J. Dykes says: “Forget love — I’d rather fall in chocolate!”
About the Juggler: Kat Kiefer-Newman currently teaches as an adjunct instructor at two colleges in two different departments. In addition to her busy working (and driving) schedule she attends conferences presenting her research, is in the last stages of finishing her Ph.D., takes care of her elderly father, has recently packed up and sent off to college her second daughter, chats in status updates with her students on Facebook, does not hand out her cell phone number to said students despite their pleadings, and in her spare time she plays in her organic veggie garden. (And though she will never admit it, she also enjoys reading trashy vampire novels.)