Aaron was beautiful. Women would exclaim it and then cover their mouths in embarrassment. Even some guys would tell him. They all would soon discover, this was not the best way to start a conversation with Aaron.
Mesmerized by his beautiful face, women would forget to listen to him. They could not keep their side of a conversation for the distraction.
He hated it. Aaron had heard the words: ‘penetrating blue eyes,’ ‘riveting,’ ‘stunning,’ ‘chiseled features’ and more, far too often. Introduce yourself with one of these clichés and he would turn away. He didn’t care. Aaron would show you his ‘sculptured’ back. End of story.
He saw himself as a regular guy, cursed, in his opinion, with extraordinary good looks. People raved about an accident of birth, a random blending of his parent’s DNA.
When fashion changed, as it always did, he would still be the same regular guy with last year’s good looks. He worked as a model. He maintained himself. But Aaron had no ego about his appearance. He knew his shelf life would expire.
Aaron would laugh seeing co-workers checking themselves out when walking by mirrors, or windows. Aaron only saw his image when someone shoved an open magazine at him, asking him to sign some ad he appeared in. He would graciously comply, but he couldn’t care less. Responsibility for his appearance lay between the make-up girl and God.
When his work day finished, he used to grab a beer and hang out with the crew. Or try to catch a game. Eventually, Aaron stopped going. He wearied of residing in that shimmery bubble defined by admiring, staring eyes. Aaron joked he was more popular than the Mona Lisa. She smiled because she finally got some relief.
He couldn’t get to know anyone. Aaron once asked someone if they’d ever had a conversation with a peacock. It isn’t because the peacock has nothing to say, but that no one knows what to say to a peacock. They didn’t understand the question.
He got to know some of the support staff, the make-up and hair people. They didn’t treat him like a freak. He laughed when one said, “When you look at diamonds all day, every day, they’re just rocks. Pretty, polished rocks, but just rocks.”
He asked one of the make-up girls out once, but she declined. She didn’t date clients. Smart.
Everyone said Aaron had a charmed life. He had it made. Aaron thought, ‘If a museum piece, only admired for its perfection, had it made, then yes, I have it made.’ He wanted more.
Aaron gave Madeline a call. He saw her ad for matchmaking services online. What did he have to lose?
She answered, “Matchmaker…”
“Hi. I’m looking for a relationship. A real one.”
“Uh huh. What’s the problem?”
“I can’t seem to meet anyone and get to know them. I don’t trust online services. I work. I’m a decent looking guy. I’m straight. How does this work?”
“So, what’s the problem?”
“I just told you.”
“Right. But why can’t you connect? Do you have horns? Scars? Pick your nose? What?”
“Oh… You’re gonna think it sounds stupid. I’m just a guy.”
“I’m told I’m too handsome. Maybe women think I out shine them?”
“This is a common problem.”
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, ‘I’m too good looking. I’m just looking for love.’”
“Right. Well, maybe…”
“Tell you what. Come in. Let me look at you and see what I can do.”
Madeline was a pro, and not easily dazzled. But if this guy was for real, she thought she might have the perfect match for him.
Her name was Carol. ‘Gorgeous’ only hinted at her beauty. But she loved the attention it brought her. Carol also used her beauty to create a buffer between herself and intrusion. She loved her privacy. Carol discovered long ago, this buffer allowed her to navigate countless social situations. Carol never worried about undesired attention from strangers. She never needed to await entry to a club. No rope ever stopped her. Airports were a breeze.
Madeline hoped Aaron would be the perfect match for Carol. If he were as handsome as promised, the beauty factor would cancel out and they could just be together. Voila! The perfect couple.
Madeline grew up believing she was homely. Without prompting, all her girlfriends told her so. Many boys agreed. A practical romantic who didn’t waste time pining for her Prince Never-there, Madeline developed her character and a professional attitude. She had an acute understanding of human nature, of what drives people together and what separates them.
A romantic who gave up on finding true love for herself, Madeline became a matchmaker. And a good one. Madeline had a knack for seeing an individual’s potential for a life partnership. Adept at engineering connections leading to happy marriages, Madeline thrived on seeing people joined in happiness.
When Aaron entered her office, Madeline caught her breath. He was a Greek god. She knew him to be Carol’s perfect match.
She thought, ‘Gorgeous, meet Gorgeous.’
Madeline introduced herself and shook his hand. She thought ‘his smile is dazzling.’ Not wanting to stare, Madeline shuffled papers while outlining her services and expectations, should he sign on with her.
Madeline led Aaron to a quiet, comfortable sitting room where she let prospective couples get acquainted. Carol awaited him there. She stood to greet Aaron and shook his hand.
“Carol, I want you to meet the gentleman I told you about, Mr. Adon…” She coughed. “I mean, Aaron. How is it, both being in the biz, you don’t know each other?”
The two clients laughed. “It’s a small town but we work in different aspects.”
“I mainly do cosmetics, and Aaron…”
Carol and Aaron laughed at a few inside references, only they would understand. Madeline offered them refreshments and left them to chat.
Aaron took a chance and smiled at Carol. “Your hair is stunning.”
Carol looked at him with bright eyes. “And your smile is dazzling.” They both laughed at how silly all that fan-doration is.
They sat and dove into a conversation, blissfully not about work or fame. They liked the same food but knew different restaurants. Each enjoyed cooking at home, away from stares.
Apparently, their music collections were identical with expected departures into girl groups and metal. Neither liked rap. Both loved the Great American song book. Carol preferred vocals, Aaron instrumentals.
It was comfortable.
“Alright, trick question.”
“Black and white? You’re kidding! The lighting in those days was heavenly.”
“Who is your favorite star, though?”
“No contest. Garbo.”
“She was funny. Not affected. She handled all the… you know, perfectly. And, she was beautiful.”
“Yeah, but not as beautiful as you…”
“Yada, yada, yada… Thank you. Who do you like?”
“I have to go with Clark Gable.”
“Oh, yeah. Gable was so natural. So completely unself-conscious. Here’s this goofy looking guy. But sexy by being so relaxed. He drove women nuts, just being himself.”
The conversation went on for a long time, with no lapses. They felt so seen. So relaxed. They didn’t have to put on a face for the other. Each felt they could drop those masks, worn for too long.
Madeline knocked and entered with a big smile.
“I have a surprise for you two. If you haven’t already made plans, I have a get together. An annual thing with some former clients. Many have married and been together for years. Would you honor me with your presence?”
Aaron looked at Carol, expectantly.
She shrugged and smiled. “Why not?”
“Sounds perfect. We’ll just pick up where we left off here.”
“Wonderful. Here are the directions. You both look great. And great together. Oh, and we’ll be having dinner. So I hope you didn’t fill up on cookies.”
Carol rolled her eyes at Aaron. “As if cookies were my downfall…” They all laughed as they made their way out.
Aaron and Carol went in his car. Madeline drove alone.
“Do you think this is going to be okay?”
Aaron scoffed. “These are Madeline’s people. I would expect them to have some class. She’s a pro.”
“She got us together. I’d say she’s a genius.”
“It’ll be fun. At the very least, we can talk with each other.”
They drove in silence for a while.
“I have to say, Carol. It has been a long time since I could talk to someone. Just talk, and feel heard.”
Carol smiled at Aaron and touched his hand. “Me too. It might take some getting used to.”
They got to the dinner and everyone was friendly. It felt weird that no one acted weird. That became Aaron and Carol’s ‘in joke’ for the evening – weirdly normal.
Most couples had small tables, for two. Madeline sat at a larger table nearby, with some early clients who were now happily married.
Music played under the conversational buzz. Occasionally, someone would address the group. They praised Madeline for her great work. Everyone acted toward Aaron and Carol as if they were two new friends. That’s all.
Aaron and Carol touched glasses for a private toast. They drank. Aaron made a joke just as Carol was swallowing and she started to choke. The room went silent. She kept waving Aaron away, but the coughing got worse. She couldn’t breathe.
Carol began to panic. She stood. The chair fell back. Her eyes rolled back. She started to weave as if she were about to collapse.
Madeline approached from behind and swiftly applied the Heimlich maneuver. Carol gasped. They collapsed to the floor.
Everyone gathered around. Someone yelled to call 9-1-1.
Carol waved her hand. “No! Don’t! I’m fine.” She coughed some more. Madeline, still kneeling, offered Carol her hand to help her up.
“Don’t touch me, you bitch. Get away from me. Who gave you permission to approach me?”
Madeline withdrew her hand. She stood and faced Carol as she came upright.
Carol looked at her dress. “Look what you did! You ruined my dress.” She shrieked, “Leave me alone!”
Carol kept coughing. Everyone backed away from her. Aaron put his arm around Carol, to comfort her. Carol shrugged him away.
“I said, leave me alone!”
Madeline tried to sooth her. “I was afraid for you. I wanted to help.”
“Don’t touch me. Ever.” Carol walked unsteadily to the dining room door. She turned and looked at Aaron. “Are you coming?” Carol left.
Aaron apologized to everyone. He took Madeline’s hand and bowed. He kissed her hand. “I’m so sorry, for this. Your friends don’t deserve this. I’m sorry.”
“It’ll be alright. Go.” Madeline smiled at Aaron and nodded for him to leave.
A few days later, the phone rang at Madeline’s office.
“Hi, Madeline, this is Aaron…”
“Aaron! I’m so sorry. That shouldn’t have happened. What can I do? I suppose I’m fired.”
“Madeline, I will not accept your apology. But there is one thing you can do.”
“You don’t have to accept it. But I am so embarrassed. What do you need?”
“Let me take you out to dinner?”
“Take me? Aaron, I don’t socialize with clients. That would be a conflict of interest. I can’t. I hope you’ll understand. I might have another young wo…”
“Madeline, you are fired. I don’t want your matchmaking services anymore.”
“Oh. I worried about that.”
“I mean it. I am no longer your client.”
“I understand. I’m sorry I couldn’t help you, Aaron. You seem like a very…”
“Madeline. You aren’t listening.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m no longer your client. So now you can have dinner with me.”
“Madeline, I have been searching for a caring, classy, wonderful woman. What happened the other night was unfortunate. And I owe you an apology for the scene we put on in front of your nice friends.”
“But, what you showed me… The way you acted was so deeply beautiful. You were caring, tender and kind and classy. You didn’t deserve what Carol did. You are the woman I’ve always searched for. Please, let me take you out.”
Madeline didn’t know what to say.
“Are you there, Madeline?”
“Let’s get to know each other. You are the first person who ever treated me like a human being. Let’s have dinner. Can we do that?”
Madeline answered hoarsely. “Okay. When?”
“Okay.” Madeline hung up the phone. Then she started to cry.