By Zoe Dyer
Unfortunately Yente, the wrinkled gossip from Fiddler on the Roof, was a notorious face of matchmaking in my childhood.
‘Even the worst husband,’ she says, ‘is better than no husband.’ She lacks every quality needed for matchmaking – taste, discernment and discretion – and I must emphasise, I am nothing like her.
As a committed friend, I screen out the drunkards, batterers and players. Yente was just out for a buck and let’s be honest – she was scraping the bottom of the barrel in that village. I’m looking for men with high morals and low, preferably nil, divorce rates. Rugged men who are drawn to mountain ranges and starlight camping. Men who don’t hog the mirror.
There is only one problem. My success rate is zero.
The last couple dated for two months before it crumbled. Seven months later she married somebody else. I took notes from that one. Matchmaking, like writing, is obviously a learnt art. I just needed to learn some more.
Things, however, are going slightly awry. Two months ago my husband and I went for a lovely break to the Midlands, where we received astonishing kindness from the couple who ran the place. I looked them up and down. Good people.
‘Let me know what I can do for you,’ the man said as he was about to leave our pristine cottage.
I jumped at the chance.
‘Do you know any good young men in the area?’ I demanded.
The room went quiet. He looked from my husband to me to my husband again.
‘I mean,’ I said, ‘I know a bunch of beautiful ladies who are needing husbands. Is there any good stock in the area?’
‘Good luck,’ he said, and there went my plans for finding salt-of-the-earth men for my friends. And then he added, ‘I’ll see what I can do.’
He never came back to me. Stained glass windows and the economy was where he tightly navigated conversation.
But I’m not one to accept defeat. I organised my first cocktail evening – high heels, suits and bubbles … Conduits of love, I thought.
Well. For the first time in Durban history, there were twice as many guys as there were girls. We propped ourselves on the wrought-iron chairs of the Oyster Box’s Light House Bar, and sipped our champagne and laughed and talked and laughed some more.
We sat beside the wide expanse of Indian Ocean, the waves roaring in our conversation. Opulent red couches winked at us from inside the bar … The ocean swayed with moonlight. If anybody wanted an excuse for romance, it was here. And everybody went home happy … but very single.
Potential, I thought. Cocktail events have potential. So a month later, I decided on round number two – with cell-phone blazing I invited as many as I could to a sparkling night at Moyo pier …
We arrived to music – less Frank Sinatra and more techno drums that made glass shudder. A radio station and their beat had overtaken the pier. We moved to the Cape Town Fish Market, where we shouted at each other across the table, not quite escaping the beat. I gazed at the group and started laughing. There were two men (my husband being one) and six women …
But next month we’ll cocktail again, hopefully where we can hear each other talk. Three is a lucky number. Besides, as Babe Ruth said, ‘every strike brings me closer to the next home run.’