Friday, August 26, 2005
The Matchmakers


I was cutting the kids a slice of chocolate cake when the phone rang.

"Hello?" I said, propping the phone between my chin and shoulder and handing the children their plates.

A man's voice came through the phone line. "Hi. Is this Juno?"

"Yes. Who's this?"

"This is Phil."

I hesitated, puzzled. "I don't know any Phil."

He laughed. "I'm the guy that pumped your gas this afternoon. Your son gave me your business card and told me to call you. He thinks you need to get out more."

"He WHAT?!?"

The kids were watching me with interest. I put my hand over the receiver. "Brian, did you give some strange man my business card and tell him to call me?" I whispered furiously.

Brian suddenly decided he had eaten quite enough chocolate cake and quickly excused himself from the table. Amber covered her mouth and started giggling. Great.

"You have quite a little guy there, " the man went on. "He's really bright for his age."

"He certainly is." I was going to have a very long talk with the little Einstein as soon as I got off the phone.

"So how are you?"

"I'm fine. Listen Phil, this is a little awkward. It was very nice of you to call, but I'm really not interested in dating anyone right now."

Brian stuck his head around the corner and peeked at me. I pantomimed a swat on the bottom, and he disappeared again.

I could hear the amusement in Phil's voice. "I can understand that. Still, every mom needs to get out and have fun every once in a while. How about I take you bowling this Saturday--no strings attached?"

"I don't bowl," I said automatically. Amber tugged urgently on my shirt."Sorry Phil, can you hang on a minute please?" I held the phone to my chest. "What?" I asked my daughter.

"Ask him to take you bumper bowling, Mom," my daughter offered helpfully. "Even YOU could do that."

Laughter poured out of the receiver. Figures he'd hear that.

"I really don't think this is a good idea," I said into the phone.

"I'm sure I could arrange for a bumper lane if you want."

"Very funny."

The man simply refused to take no for an answer. "Come on," he wheedled charmingly. "We can take the kids with us. They'll have a blast, and I'd really enjoy the company."

Brian had tiptoed back into the kitchen and was whispering wildly back and forth with his sister. They stopped when they caught me looking, faces wide with innocence. I drew my finger across my throat meaningfully.

"I don't know anything about you," I pointed out.

"What would you like to know? I'm funny, charming, and not too hard on the eyes I guess. I have a steady job, like kids, cook a mean steak, and I never leave the toilet seat up. I've never gotten a ticket or been in trouble with the cops--although I came close the time I was almost caught rolling Susie Hamell's yard when I was twelve."

I laughed.

"See?" he said. "You like me already."

"Can they really arrest you for rolling a yard?" I grinned, despite myself.

"Well, it was a bit more complicated than that. My friend Billy's dad had a carton of pink toilet paper he'd picked up on remainder somewhere. Once we felt pretty sure the family was asleep and it was safe, Billy and I started tossing something like 20 rolls all over the trees and bushes. It was a beautiful sight. Then we almost got caught by one of the neighbors who was out walking his dog, so we ran all the way home. The only problem was, we didn't count on it raining that night. The next morning Mr. Hammell came out to find that his yard, his driveway, and the roof of his shed had turned bright pink."

"Oh no!"

"Uh huh. Luckily he was able to get rinse most of it off with the hose. And since Billy and I managed to get away, my record is clear."

"Glad to hear it."

"So," he continued smoothly. "Should I pick you up about 1:00 on Saturday?"

"You just don't give up, do you?"

"Nope. I'm stubborn that way. How about this? You think on it a bit, and I'll give you a call tomorrow. I promised my mom that I would treat her to dinner tonight so I'd better head on over there now. If you like I can have her call you and reassure you that I'm not an axe murderer or anything."

"I really don't think that's necessary . . ."

"Good it's settled then. I'll give you a call tomorrow. Bye Juno." Click.

I stared at the receiver, still not quite sure what had just happened.

I hung up the phone and looked around for the kids. I found them curled up on the living room couch watching TV.

"Okay. Hand 'em over."

They looked at me, puzzled.

"Hand what over?" Brian asked.

"My business cards. I want you to give them to me right now. "

Reluctantly Brian reached into his pocket and pulled out a stack of cards held together with a ponytail elastic.

"Thank you. I don't know what you were thinking of, but you can't just go around handing out information like that to strange men. You know better than that. "

"He wasn't strange--he was funny and nice!" Amber piped up.

Brian nodded his agreement. "Yeah. I mean it's not like I give 'em to everybody. Only the really cool people."

"I don't care. I do not want you to go around asking men to date your mom! Not only is it extremely dangerous, it's downright embarrassing!" A thought struck me. "Exactly how many of my cards did you guys give out.?"

The kids exchanged looks.

"Well, there was the cash register guy at the grocery store," Amber offered.

"He's a TEENAGER!" I exploded.

"He was cute though," she insisted. "And you're always saying age doesn't matter."

"Well it does if you're old enough to be the kid's mom!" I sighed. "Who else?"

"The pizza guy downstairs. . ."

"The guy at the laundrymat. . . "

"The old man who runs the movie theater. . ."

I put my face in my hands and groaned. This was not good.

"They all thought you were really pretty," Brian offered helpfully.

Great. Just great.

"Listen, I know you two meant well but you have to promise me not to do anything like this again. I mean it. I don't like you talking to strangers without me present. Understand? And I am perfectly capable of choosing for myself what people I want to go out with."

The kids looked at each other doubtfully.

"I mean it guys! No more handing out business cards or trying to set me up. Got it?"

Amber shrugged. "Fine."

"Brian?"

"Okay, okay! I promise."

Looking back, I should have made sure his fingers weren't crossed behind his back. And I definitely should have remembered to check his secret stash under his bed. . .
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I'm a 40-something writer, artist, and Jill-of-All-Trades. For me, magic is looking at the ordinary and seeing the extraordinary. My writing tends to take me to unexpected places--not so surprising when I think about it. I had an unusual growing up and have always chosen the offbeat over the "safe". I prefer interesting people over beautiful ones, and I am fascinated by people's stories. What I love most about life is its glorious imperfections and fantastic plot twists.

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