The week before Thanksgiving, I got a call from my cousin Winnie. In her business-like manner and slight european accent, she channeled “Fiddler on the Roof” and said, “Marisa, do I have a man for you!”
Before I go any further, I have to explain just how much Winnie loves to act as a matchmaker. Every family has to have one, and when she married my cousin David (first cousin, once removed actually), she saw the position was vacant and took it on. I’ve gone out with someone on her recommendation before, and while it wasn’t a total failure, it wasn’t the match of the century.
Winnie continued to tell me that he was 29, Israeli, and staying with some friends of theirs around the corner (in the suburbs, half an hour away from Center City). He was new to this country and didn’t know anyone, would I be interested in meeting him? My head was screaming, “no, don’t do it” but somehow the words that came out of my mouth were, “I’d be happy to.” I told her to email me his phone number, and I would give him a call. I admit that I was hoping that I’d be able to wiggle out of it by saying yes and then taking no action, a favorite old trick of mine I used to employ when my mom would ask me to take the trash out or clean the cat box.
She sent me the number and I spent three days putting it off. I was planning on calling on Thanksgiving, because I knew I would be seeing Winnie that day, and I wanted to be able to tell her that yes, I had called this guy. But she beat me to the punch. She called me about an hour before I had been planning on calling, to ask me if I wouldn’t come over to her house before our family dinner and walk over to her neighbor’s house to meet him. Being a girl who can’t say no, especially to people I love, I said yes.
And so I pulled up in front of the cousins’ house a couple hours before the family dinner in Plymouth Meeting, feeling awkward, nervous and uncomfortable. We walked over to the house and it was just as bad as I thought it would be. We all stood around in the kitchen, my cousins, their friends, the guy and me. Everyone around us talked, and while I tried to engage this guy in conversation, he was shy and uncomfortable too. Someone suggested we all go sit down in the living room, but after I was sitting, I looked up and I realized that my cousin Winnie was still in the kitchen with the guy. I wasn’t sure whether I was supposed to stay in there or go into the living room. It turns out that I was supposed to go into the living room so that Winnie could ask the guy if he was interested in getting together with me sometime. Uh-huh.
After a deeply uncomfortable phone call from the guy the next day, I realized I’ve learned my lesson. I think I’m going to stop saying yes because at the moment it’s easier than saying no. The momentary discomfort of the no would have saved me greater discomfort in the long run. Ah yes, dating (especially when family tries to help you do it) sucks.