As Pearl Jam's "Better Man" played in the background on the easy listening station, the doctor poked around an area on my body where other men shouldn't be.
He grabbed hold, told me to cough, then cough again. At least the incongruous choice of Pearl Jam distracted me from his cold, latex-gloved hands. I'm lost as to when Seattle's '90s grunge, hard-rock leader became light music.
The song, one of my favorite P.J. songs, is singer Eddie Vedder's lament to a lousy stepdad. Its chorus of "can't find a better man" almost seemed appropriate, given the circumstances.
The medical examination was a prerequisite for completing my application with a professional matchmaker. I was not the client. Admittedly, I've spent a lot of money over the years searching for my dream girl, but I am yet to cough up the tens of thousands of dollars these pros demand.
My encounter with "The Matchmaker" was just another one of those quirky encounters I sometimes stumble into. A friend had sent me an e-mail about a big Shabbat dinner for singles at a big New York City synagogue. I happened to be home in New Jersey this summer and decided to go. I knew nothing of the organization running the dinner, but decided to attend.
It was a popular modern Orthodox synagogue, and the singles who signed up for the dinner did a good job of filling the seats. My perch in the back of the sanctuary-in-the-round was quite advantageous for scoping out women. Who could concentrate on the prayerbook when you could so easily look into the women's section?
It didn't appear that all the women were particularly paying attention to the prayers, either.
As we streamed out of the sanctuary toward the banquet room, "The Matchmaker" made eye contact, stopped me and introduced herself. Based solely on our handshake and brief introduction, she handed me her card and told me she has a great girl.
I barely contained my laughter. I've heard this spiel before. Years ago, I was signed up by one of her competitors who had the best girl in the world for me. After three horrific dates and a series of misrepresentations, I extricated myself from the situation and vowed to avoid these commercial ventures.
"The Matchmaker," with her overdone makeup and overly dyed hair, told me she never heard of the other matchmaker, which I found curious because they both advertise in the same high-end magazine. I dropped names of other high-profile Manhattan matchmakers I'd encountered over the years. She vowed she was different and better.
Nevertheless, I gave her my card, while explaining that I lived in Syracuse most of the year. I wrote my number on the back, figuring I'd never hear from her again.
She pointed out that signing up with her would not cost me anything and her girl was perfect: smart, tall, beautiful and, armed with her law degree, she runs her family's business.
Between geographic and economic issues, it all seemed like a long shot. During the dinner, when I was seated next to an investment banker and a plastic surgeon, I presumed that "The Matchmaker" would have gotten a dozen or so better men.
Okay, not better than me as a whole, but guys who made a ton more money. I might dress like an investment banker but I do not make those kinds of dollars.
Five days later, she called, inviting me to her office for an interview and to fill out forms.
Her office is really in her Manhattan apartment. Arriving six minutes early for the interview seemed to set her off a bit. I had to stand in the lobby with the doormen for 10 minutes.
Once upstairs, she greeted me with an air kiss on the cheek, saying, "Hi, handsome." She offered me a drink. I chose ice water to cool me off and sat in a chair. In her spotless living room of comfortable chairs and lacquered furniture, she spent 10 minutes telling me how great she is, showing me her portfolio of magazine and newspaper clips from publications around the world, even one in Italian. "I don't know what this says, but I'm mentioned in it," she said.
All her clientele are high-end people in New York and Los Angeles, she told me. She's gotten hundreds of people married. She's great. Her clients are great, too: wealthy, powerful and attractive. They pay her at least $10,000 to $20,000 for her services, she insisted.
Then, she proceeded to ask me a series of bizarre questions: What's your greatest accomplishment? Greatest regret? Worst failure? How were you greeted when you came home from school?
Most of her interest seemed focused on why I didn't practice law, which I interpreted as a less-than-subtle way of asking: Why aren't you making more money?
Then, I asked her if she had checked me out. She said no. I found it hard to believe that this savvy businesswoman invited a strange guy into her apartment-office without as much as a Google search.
Knowing she was interviewing a guy who writes a column on the side would turn the tables: Who'd be interviewing who here? I wasn't just some tall Jewish guy in a fancy suit, I'm a singles columnist on the side.
To her credit, she did not wilt under questioning. I asked her a second time before giving her my Exponent business card, too.
Once I got my doctor's report to her and then her private investigator checked me out, I could proceed to meet "The Lovely Judy."
Read all about the encounter in the Oct. 2 Exponent.
Roy S. Gutterman is a Syracuse, N.Y.-based writer. To contact him visit: www.Lrev.com.