Only 99 cents!
MICK - guppy scientist and victim of her self-inflicted dating adventures.
MIRI - astrology whiz and promoter of steamy sex for the greater good.
DERRICK - data genius and life idiot.
Meet the match team at MatchMakers.com, the web 2.0 online-dating service with a personal touch.
Can Mick lead her team, find a guy, and finally win Match the Loser? Enjoy a little humor, a little romance, and occasional trivia about guppies.
NOVEL NIBBLES are snack-sized reads. Short novels for your lunch break, your iPhone, and any other time a quick read is the perfect length. They are about 20,000 words (70-80 pages). There will be several more Nibbles coming out in 2011.
Miri read from the client data sheet. “Lizzy is looking for a man who likes poetry, walks on the beach, and quiet nights in front of the fire.”
Derrick and I groaned in unison. Women like Lizzy are hell to match. First, all guys fitting her description are either gay or very firmly attached to some lucky woman. Second, single women who still think that guy is out there generally have attachment-to-reality issues.
Miri shook her finger at us. “Give her a chance. I think it’s sweet that a woman her age can still be a romantic. There are some obstacles to overcome, however. Lizzy is forty-two, lives in New Jersey, and is allergic to dogs, car deodorizers, and gluten.”
Derrick looked up from his computer screen. “What the heck is gluten?”
Forgive him, he’s a geek. He doesn’t get out much. “It’s the protein in wheat,” I said. “Lots of people can’t eat it. Bread, pasta—stuff like that.”
Derrick looked pained. “We have to find a date for a woman who can’t eat pizza or spaghetti?”
Miri frowned at him. “It’s a serious condition, Derrick. We can’t deny a love match to Lizzy just because she can’t eat fettuccine Alfredo.”
Of the three of us, I think Miri believes the most in what we do. We’re the brains behind MatchMakers.com. You plunk down your $99 for our “web 2.0 algorithms plus personal touch” approach, and if the automated system can’t match you in three tries, Derrick, Miri, and I hook you up. I suspect that even MatchMakers’ senior management realizes we’re not exactly what people think they’ve paid for, so we’re all sworn to secrecy.
Derrick attacked his keyboard for a few moments. He’s our resident data geek and the token guy on the matchmaking team. He’s a god with a computer, and an idiot with pretty much everything else. “We don’t track food allergies, but an allergy to dogs eliminates sixty-one percent of her match possibilities.”
Wow. A lot of single forty-something guys have dogs. That’s the kind of trivial brain clog you pick up in a job like this.
Crystal, our annoyingly perky HR person, stuck her head in the door of our workroom. “Don’t forget about the contest kick-off this afternoon.” Sigh. It was Match the Loser time again. We do this internal competition twice a year. It’s the product of some moronic marketing brainstorm on how to build team spirit while trying to get some of our difficult clients off the books.
Miri looked happy. She was on a winning streak of four Match the Loser contests in a row.
I was depressed. If it was Match the Loser time again, I had just lost my bet with Jazie, my best friend. I had to put my name in the MatchMakers’ system and date the first three guys the system spit out. Splendid.
Derrick was still working on Lizzy. “Narrow the age range, take out guys who live more than fifty miles from New Jersey or hate poetry, and we have eighty-three possible matches in our system.”
That was getting closer. It’s Derrick’s job to run the first filter and narrow down the match possibilities from our client database. Then, Miri and I take over. However, we prefer a shortlist under fifty, if possible—otherwise our eyes bleed.
I considered Lizzy’s criteria. “Hey Derrick, use the psych-profile scores and knock out extroverts. No way Lizzy falls for a guy that likes crowds. How many does that leave us?”
That probably sounds like I know what I’m doing. On-the-job training, mostly. I got hired for my graduate-thesis work in mate selection. Looks good on the MatchMakers’ website.
Not surprisingly, the site doesn’t mention that I studied the mate-choosing behaviors of guppies, strictly a one-night-stand species. If you ever need to hook up your pet fish, I’m your gal. With people, it’s a little more complicated.
Accessing the psych-profile data is complicated, so we waited patiently for Derrick to finish. He finally looked up and wiggled his fingers at me, magician style. “Twenty-three left, doll.”
One of the criteria for my next job is a conspicuous absence of coworkers that call me “doll.” Derrick thinks it makes him sound New York hip. Down here in Durham, North Carolina, it just makes him sound weird.
Derrick sent the twenty-three possible matches to Miri’s and my new iPads, and we started looking them over. The iPads were one of my little victories as leader of the match team. I’d added up the cost of printing match profiles on paper over the last year and taken that to my boss. It’s one of the few times in my three-year tenure here that common sense has actually been effective.
Miri started eliminating candidates. “We need to tighten the age range. No way a guy under forty’s going to work.”
Derrick protested. “I thought we agreed that five years up or down was always a safe range?”
See what I mean? Data geek, life idiot. Miri usually left it to me to tackle his dumber assumptions. “Forty’s one of the exceptions.” Sometimes you just have to pull rank.
Derrick grumbled. He hated exceptions. They made his formulas clunky, whatever that means.
Miri waved her imaginary scythe and cut a swath through the air. “So, take out the guys that are too young. Then we can definitely eliminate the guys that look too tough.” Don’t ask me how Miri decides this stuff; I have no idea. I agreed with her decision, though. I figured in New Jersey, eliminating anyone who looked tough would shorten the stack considerably.
Yeah, we live and die by stereotypes here at MatchMakers. It’s one of our best things.
Miri did the finger-tap of death for the guys not passing her looks test. For all her new-age philosophies, appearances matter a lot to Miri. I didn’t argue; looks had mattered a lot to my guppies, too.
My turn to filter. I looked over Lizzy’s profile again. Nothing about kids. Forty-two-year-old, single women usually have pretty strong opinions on the subject of kids. In this case, I’d take absence of information as a lack of desire for instant motherhood. Besides, kids tend to cramp fire-lit evenings of poetry.
I did my own finger-taps of death and weeded out matches with kids under eighteen. “Taking out guys with kids. That leaves us with six.”
We both studied the six for a minute. Lizzy would get three custom matches, so we only had to cut the list in half at this point.
I clicked on Brad. He had a bit of a Heathcliff look; maybe Lizzy would find that romantic. Miri had moved to the chair beside me. At this stage, it was easier to share an iPad. She shook her head. “Nope. He’s a Virgo.”
Yep, this is our “web 2.0 algorithm” in all its glory.
“Okay, and that’s a problem because...?” I asked.
“She’s a Cancer. He’s all numbers and logic; she’s emotions. He won’t give her the emotional connection she needs.”
Derrick snorted. He’s a Virgo.
Lizzy was our last match of the morning, and since we had five guys left, I wasn’t inclined to be picky. “Fine, Brad goes. Are any of these other ones less astrologically challenged?”
Miri’s eyes got all luminous. “Oh, look. Vince is a Taurus. Nice stable sign, good long-term match for a Cancer.”
Recently divorced. Yeah, probably in search of wife number two. Lizzy’s profile didn’t scream ‘I want to get married’ though. “And if she’s not looking for long term?”
Lizzy’s eyes sparkled. “Malcolm here is an Aries. Fire sign. Add that to watery Cancer and you’ll get hot, steamy sex. Can’t last, though.”
I looked at Malcolm’s date history. Lots of likes from the women, but he’d never responded to any requests for date number two. A one-night-stand guy—online-dating sites are full of them. I set the ‘Lothario’ flag in his profile and put him on Lizzy’s match list. Maybe she wanted hot and steamy.
So, we had one stable long-term guy, and one sweaty-night-in-the-sheets guy. Miri and I looked over the other four. When nothing jumped out at us, we went to our crapshoot team member. I poked Derrick. “Pick number three—we don’t care.”
Done. Three guys for Lizzy, courtesy of the MatchMakers’ brain trust.