In Georgia, there are old grandmothers who profess to be experts on love. For a small fee - or for free if they like you - they'll be more than happy to set you up with a girl. The only catch is that you have to be ready to married as well. You talk to the old lady, you meet the girl and I'm not really sure how long it takes from meeting to marriage, since I haven't tried this approach myself. I hear though, it works a lot better than taking old drunk Georgian guys saying that they "know a girl" you can call and have a good time with. Or maybe they know a certain niece of a cousin of a mother's brother's godson who is single and thirty and needs hooking up in order to remain "respectable" in Georgian village society.
Americans often make fun of both of these aspects of Georgian culture. "Every time I go to a supra in a village, they try to marry me to a niece," one might complain. I look at him and ask if he's married - and if he's not married, then I say, "So maybe the guy wasn't so serious?" If the guy was serious, there would probably be five hundred missed calls on the American's cell phone - Georgians rarely wait for a call back, and since there's only rarely voice-mail, I suppose I can't blame them.
But also Americans go on about the old matchmaker women. I was also a bit skeptical about the women, since I've never felt the rush to get married until I realized I had gray hair setting in - and even then I didn't consider being in that big of a rush. Until one day I was having lunch with a friend who told me about it in more detail while we were drinking beer and eating khinkali.
"My old host mother was a matchmaker," he told me. "She was always bringing in different girls to meet me. And they were all really pretty. She's always sit me down and ask, 'Well, how about that one? Do you love that one?' and if I said no, I'd get the usual rant about how I must not love Georgian women [his current girlfriend is Georgian]. But one time, I almost thought I'd do it. She was this really beautiful girl - 19 years old - spoke English, Russian and Georgian and was really ready to get married. She was amazing. But you know, then I was too young to get married - I still am really. So I passed her up, too. I think she was really mad at me because I did meet up with her a couple of times, so she must have thought it was going to go somewhere. But I think, if I'm 30 and not married, that's what I'm doing."
I looked down at my beer. "Well, shit, I'm 30 and not married."
"So you want to meet the matchmaker?"
I still thought it was a ridiculous idea - to meet a girl to wed through a matchmaker. But then I came back to America, where I was hanging out in the Townhouse Bar in the small town of Manitou Springs in Colorado. I was drunk - naturally - and after my turn karaoke singing I went straight to the restroom. "Gotta unload to reload," I told myself - I always tell myself that when I unload, it's a line that Molotov used to say at Stalin's Kremlin supras. Bathroom walls in the States are often covered in advertisements - it's a great place to advertise since you have to look at the wall for a minute anyways. While I was unloading, I was reading one such advertisement.
"I do it better. 700 married men & women agree," it read, with a picture of bare feet tangled together, just sticking out from under crumpled bed sheets - an interesting site to see while pissing. "Computer dating sites simply can’t compete with the quality relationships I’ve made and continue to pursue for my clients. As my past and current clients will attest, I will work diligently and tirelessly to find you your future love." So there was actually little difference between this Donna Shrugue of www.perfectlymatcheddating.com and the old village grandmother - except you're more likely to get a polyglot virgin from the grandmother.
So what really was wrong with having a matchmaker set you up? Or letting that old, tattoo knuckled guy at the supra make a few calls? I had personal experience with Internet dating anyway, having done my try back in my Denver days - the perfectly aligned algorithms of love a real hit and miss for me. But my brother was somewhat successful, having found the only white, single woman in Mississippi and marrying her within months, and now they've got a beautiful little girl together.
Every week through my time in the States, I tried to have a happy hour in downtown Denver, thinking it'd be easy for my more professional friends - read: desk jockeys - to at least get in some face time with me outside of Facebook. One such friend I had hung out with years ago - he used to lead up a weekly Bible study meeting I attended. He met his new wife at okcupid.com and both of them seem to be without regrets. In the old days - even in Europe - people either married for political reasons, money or they, more often than not, met with a matchmaker. Attraction is an evil catterpillar that rarely strikes at random, and so why leave one's lifelong choices to randomness? Who can be blamed for wanting a bit of that self-digesting histolysis dating action and wanting a beautiful butterfly at the end of it all?
But really, can it all be better than finding girls in bars? I'd likely have more in common with a tavern wench than any of those village virgins anyway.