مشاور دوستیابی

کتاب: زندگی در چند بخش / فصل 29

مشاور دوستیابی

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Dating Consultant

Newly divorced, I was living in an apartment in West LA and working for a company called Great Expectations, a precursor to dating sites like Match.com. People would come in for interviews and to record personal videos. They then would screen other videos, searching for a suitable mate. And I’d help them find a match.

It cost $800 to join. A steep price of entry. Potential customers would say to me: Eight hundred dollars. That’s a lot of money!

I’d say, It is a lot of money. But can you imagine yourself going to a store and spending eight hundred bucks on a TV? That’s reasonable. Now a husband? A wife? Somebody to love you? Someone to change your life. How do you value that in relation to a TV? More or less important? Going to a bar is a crapshoot. Waiting on your friends to set you up? Good luck. Do the math. How much are you spending in time and money looking for a partner?

Now the $800 sounded reasonable.

Easy sale.

Once I signed people up, I conducted their video interviews. They were usually stiff on camera. They’d say robotic things they thought they were supposed to say: I’m a Virgo and a high school chemistry teacher and I enjoy long walks on the beach.

No one wants to hear that.

I wouldn’t turn on the camera until I felt the candidates were being themselves. I’d say: Tell me about that bracelet you’re wearing. It’s pretty. Were you a dorky kid in grade school? If you could meet anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be? Seen any good movies? What’s the last great book you read?

If the person remained stiff, I’d tell him or her a joke and press a secret button to turn on the camera as he or she was laughing. I’d engage, disarm, and once the person felt comfortable, we’d be under way, and in a minute or two, finished. Most of the time without them even knowing we were taping. People were always more authentic if they weren’t aware the cameras were rolling.

I loved that job. It got me off the miserable loading dock—plus, I got access to a fascinating variety of human beings. Dating can lay you bare, bring out your quirks and insecurities. I got to see it all, the whole palette of personality. I came to think of Great Expectations as a kind of acting class.

I was learning in my acting classes how to reveal and present the range of human emotions, which came in handy here. Finding love is about being open, letting someone see you as you really are—not some facsimile of what you think someone wants. I’d try to help people be themselves. In the process I learned what that meant.

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