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by Dave Kessler

I just received e-mail today from a former Akiba Hebrew Academy classmate letting me know that she tried to set me up with an “attractive, Jewish writer” from our hometown, but she unfortunately just moved back to New York.

The Zoloft must have finally kicked in, otherwise I would probably be sitting on the shower stall floor, head down and broken like Elisabeth Shue in “Leaving Las Vegas,” staying in there until the hot water ran out.

Still, I am pleased that someone other than my parents tried to hook me up with anyone. They last attempted to pair me up with my own cousin.

“A second cousin,” my father yelled at me on the way back from their seder. “They’re complete strangers. We don’t even know them.” (He later e-mailed me an article on how it was recently discovered that second cousins can procreate with zero worry of genetic abnormalities.)

So I was somewhat hopeful when my buddy’s gorgeous, blond ex-girlfriend told me she was “on the market” looking for nice single guys; apparently, that didn’t include me. She called all her friends, who immediately lined up guys for her to date every night for the next two weeks. I was less jealous of those guys than the fact that she had this little network of romantic possibilities to tap into.

For some reason, it’s rare that anyone sets me up. You would think being a thin, employed, Jewish heterosexual with a full head of hair, long eyelashes and a great sense of humor would be a gimmie.

Not so.

Admittedly, there have been a handful of female friends of mine who have expressed an interest in fixing me up with their single girlfriends, and although well intended, they have never come through. A good friend, very active in synagogue events, knows a ton of Jewish women, but as a self-employed actress and the mother of a 6-year-old, she is usually too swept up by the dramas of her own life to work as my matchmaker. Her recent messy separation put my love life further down her to-do list. Talk about priorities.

Apparently, married people are only allowed to fraternize with other married people, severely limiting their use to me as matchmaker or interesting dinner guest. But yet they do have contact with separated couples — broken halves still recovering from the break. “I’d introduce you, but she’s not ready yet,” they tell me. Inevitably, when I soon after bring up that possible set-up, that 48-hour window has already closed.

Why don’t people set me up? Are they worried about themselves?

Sure, you could lose a friend by making a bad match, actually bringing the entire friendship into question. (“She thinks I’d be good with this loser? Maybe I shouldn’t be friends with her.”) Case in point: My neighbor didn’t talk to her friend for months for setting her up with someone missing an arm, because she forgot to mention the severed limb beforehand.

Or maybe people don’t set me up because they’re worried it will go well at first, but later things might sour and they’ll get caught in — to borrow a military term —  relationship crossfire. Like a divorce, but less immature, breakup parties often turn on the matchmakers: “He cheated on me and it’s all your fault!” In the nasty aftermath the matchmakers will have to decide which side to take (i.e., who gets whom in the friend-custody battle).

My ex-girlfriend still cannot attend a party thrown by her good friend “Marsha,” the woman who fixed my ex up with the ex-boyfriend, who caused her post-breakup breakdown a few years back. It’s as complicated as it sounds.

And my male friends? They’ve never expressed the slightest interest in setting me up. I have a theory that men never want you to date someone they might want to go out with sometime in their lifetime. And, trust me, there’s nothing more emasculating than asking your buddies if they know any women you’d hit it off with. The few times I’ve done this, I’ve gotten a look as if a wild animal asked another, “Know where I can find any food?”

Alphas eat. Betas go hungry. Fend for yourself. We’re all hungry, the look says.

Maybe in the old days you had some loving and concerned families and friends watching your romantic back. But these days it seems like everyone is watching their own. I guess I’m on my own.

So I called my father to check on that second cousin of mine. Turns out I missed my window — she’s now engaged to a doctor.

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