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The Paper Man

Published: September 16, 2014

A matchmaker called out of the blue. Was I still single? Did I want to meet a tycoon? Matchmakers are a common enough phenomenon in a city plumbed for power. Some men won’t go online looking for love because they have a job in the public eye. Others just enjoy spending money, delegating their courtship, and outsourcing the search.

I’m past my sell-by date for most of this pricey clientele, but when aging suitors narrow focus to Jewish above all, I am on the Yentas’ radar. He is the paying customer; I am the goods for purchase. He gets a preview, and I get very little in the way of advance intel: a first name, the outline of a fortune, a time and place to meet.

Our date was arranged at a posh hotel bar. I thought of it as a scratch-off lottery ticket; most likely I wouldn’t win anything, but why not play?

The Paper Man began texting before I arrived.

Paper Man: I’m sitting on the right beside the bar.
Paper Man: The waitress has your name and will look for you.

It was seven minutes before we were scheduled to meet. I felt nagged and vaguely annoyed. This lottery ticket was already looking unlucky.

Me: In elevator. On my way.

We immediately got down to business, that is, to the interview.

Me: The matchmaker didn’t tell me a thing about you.
Paper Man: I started in private equity, and now I’m the e-commerce king of paper goods.
Me: My grandfather sold toilet paper too.

He didn’t laugh.

Paper Man: I will be in the Hamptons this weekend. What are you doing?
Me: Laundry.

Not even a smile.

It only takes two volleys to know whom you don’t want. Alas, I was stuck for the length of a champagne flute.

The Paper Man wasn’t a talker, so I relied on my monologues; anecdotes he had never heard because he had never met me. They are extremely charming, I assure you. I can tap dance through any silence. I launched into a soliloquy about hammerhead sharks and hermaphrodite fish.

Paper Man: You would like my boat.

My champagne was almost done. I hadn’t made him laugh once. Had I seen his profile online I would have passed him by; matchmakers don’t vet their clients, just the merchandise, and I am easily snookered by a sales pitch.

Paper Man: You should come out to my place; we could have a wonderful summer.

I was never going to see him again.

The Paper Man signaled for another round but I intercepted and apologized for an early night. He was age-appropriate, financially sound, religiously on point, and I couldn’t wait to leave. He wasn’t entertaining or interesting, and he looked like an Orc. It was unkind to pit the Paper Man against my magical boy toy, but I couldn’t help it: I missed the Magician.

I had to hurry home to pout.


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