It was in-crowd matchmaking of the highest order: Maureen Dowd, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The New York Times, offered to set up Helena Andrews, a reporter for the politics site Politico. “I’ve got a guy for you. He’s so hot, it’s perfect,” Dowd told Andrews during the 2008 election, identifying her plum bachelor as none other than candidate Barack Obama‘s personal assistant, Reggie Love. To some political wonks, Barack Obama’s right-hand man might have been a prize. But the Times‘ wannabe yenta turned out to be wrong: Andrews and Love didn’t hit it off at all. (Especially not after Love arrived to the date one hour late in gym clothes.)
Such a matchmaking foible was “dismayingly consistent,” Helena Andrews writes in the June Marie Claire. “Never mind the complicated algorithms of eHarmony: My matchmakers used simple math. Black professional + black professional = Huxtables.” Except … not.It’s not just Maureen Dowd who’s a crap matchmaker. Andrews’ own mother gave a man her daughter’s card while shopping at Ikea and “yelled at me when I raised the obvious psycho-killer issues.” The two things these bachelors had in common, though, is they were both black. And unfortunately, Andrews writes, it seems like the number one reason these men were chosen to be matched to her — the stand-out quality these men had going for them — is they are the same race. “I was just disappointed that, despite all my more awesome qualities, the main thing they all saw was my skin,” she wrote.
We could totally have a discussion about black women and the rumored “black man shortage,” based on Census Bureau findings (cited by Andrews) which show that college-educated black women outnumber men almost three-to-one in big cities. As a white woman, though, I don’t think I’m the best person to write authoritatively on black women’s experiences with dating and I’ll leave that to other bloggers.
However, we have all probably experienced either getting matched up, or doing the matching up ourselves, based on superficial reasons. They’re both in law school! They’re both from the South! They’re both big drinkers! They both fenced! They’re both Deadheads! And yeah, sometimes couples do work out because they have interests gluing them together that they’ve never found with another person before. But, obviously, if love were as simple as matching up two vegetarians or Red Sox fans, so many of us wouldn’t be single.
I think where it gets questionable — for both Maureen Dowd and us mere mortals — is when matches are made based not on interests so much as Census data type of stuff. Two blacks, two septugenarians, two widowers. There’s no good reason their “data” would mean they get along. Amelia even admits she’s been guilty of meeting a gay man out-and-about and automatically thinking, for no particularly good reason other than he is gay, that she should introduce him to her single gay friend. While the only two Dominicans living in, say, Bumblef**k, Kansas, might very well appreciate being introduced to each other, as Helena Andrews can attest, matching them up can also totally backfire.
Hmmph. Maybe she should try hitting up Thomas Friedman for the menz instead. [And I'll take the next date with Reggie Love, thanks! -- Amelia]
Images from iStockphoto and NYTimes.com.