"Have I Got a Guy for You" by Alix Strauss is a take-no-prisoners collection of hilarious, true stories. The author introduces readers to two dozen victims of well-meaning mothers who meddle and tells the unvarnished details of what they suffered through. An excerpt:
Letters to Gelman
Brenda Scott Royce
Dear Mr. Gelman,
It has come to my attention that you are single. As the producer of a successful television show, you are just the type of man I’d like my daughter to marry. She’s a writer living in Los Angeles — smart, career-minded, and attractive. I’m enclosing a photograph along with her telephone number. Please call between the hours of 6 and 8 p.m.
— Phyllis in Florida
My mother is not crazy. I want to make that clear, right off the bat. I don’t care what the clinical diagnosis is or whether her extreme matchmaking efforts would qualify her for “legal insanity” status in fourteen states. Given the right motivation, the most bizarre actions can be justified. Like her long-running attempts to fix me up with Michael Gelman, the then-single producer of the morning show LIVE with Regis and Kathie Lee. (This was long before Kelly Ripa came aboard as Regis’s cohost and before Gelman married entertainment reporter Laurie Hibberd.)
Despite my insistence that I could manage my love life without her interference, and despite my far-out claim that few TV producers actually scrounge for romantic prospects in the viewer mailbag, my mother pressed on, prompted by Regis’s on-air riffs about Gelman’s single status, sending letter after letter to the morning show. While on the outside my mother’s dogged persistence in trying to snag Gelman as a son-in-law might seem irrational — perhaps even borderline delusional — I like to believe it was just a case of maternal devotion gone awry.
I was working as an associate editor and taking night classes at a community college when my mother and I entered what I now refer to as our “Gelman Period.” It began with a phone call one evening as I was studying for finals.
Upon hearing her voice, I said, “Hi Mom. What’s his name?” This had become my standard greeting for my mother. She never failed to respond with a name, occupation, and a litany of personal stats ending with “and he’s single.”
“You think you know me so well,” my mother said. “Did it ever occur to you that I might be calling to wish you well on your exam tomorrow?”
“Nope. What’s his name?”
“It just so happens I love you and I want you to be happy.”
“I know you do,” I said. “What’s his name?”
“Why are you so snippy?”
“I’m cramming,” I said.
“Oh,” she said, sounding relieved. “A little Midol should take care of that.”
“Cramming, not cramping,” I corrected. “Now what’s his name?”
She exhaled dramatically. “Patrick. And hear me out this time. He’s thirty-two and works as a mail carrier. Government benefits, you know. He’s tall —”
“I don’t want to be rude, Mom, but these fix-ups never work.”
“That’s because you’re too picky. You want a man who’s attractive, smart, has a good job, is nice to dogs, and has a super-hero cape in the closet.”
“Don’t exaggerate. I have my standards, that’s all.”
“Standards no mere mortal will ever meet.” She sniffed. “Remember Craig? He was perfect.”
Craig was a handyman my mother had met at Home Depot. Broad-shouldered with chiseled features, he was nice on the eyes, but we had nothing in common. I shuddered, remembering our tortured dinner conversation when we touched upon everything from classic cars to classical music and failed to find any common ground.
“He thought Rigoletto was a kind of pasta,” I pointed out.
“Horrors,” my mother mocked. “What about that philosophy student?”
“Jon? He spent our entire date trying to convince me I don’t exist.”
“Well, maybe you don’t.”
I sighed. “Give it up, Mom.”
“I can’t,” she said. “I want you to be happy.”
“I am happy. My career is taking off, I have great friends, I love living in L.A. —”
“But you’re not maaaarried,” she whined.
I found it ironic that my mother equated marriage with happiness, as she was the happiest person I knew and she’d been divorced since I was seven. A nurse by profession, she raised her four daughters to be independent and self-sufficient. Under her tutelage, my sisters and I each learned how to change a flat tire, build a bookcase, and balance a checkbook at an early age. She urged us to follow our dreams, see the world, and embark on exciting and challenging careers. But deep down, what she wanted most was for each of us to find a man, get married, and make babies.
When I was still single at thirty, she cranked up her matchmaking attempts. My sisters were married, so I was the sole target of her efforts. She’d chase men down in the pizza parlor or post office to pass out my number. I received many phone calls that began, “You don’t know me, but I met your mother in Albertsons ...”
I usually declined these dates, but occasionally went along out of boredom, curiosity, or desperation. I agreed to meet one guy at a country western bar. I found him at a table right near the band. The music was deafening. On a break between songs he told me, “I picked this place so if you turned out to be a dog, at least I could listen to the music.” He took a gulp of his beer and added, “but you’re not a dog.”
I repeated this to my mother.
“Fine,” she huffed. “Have it your way.” Then, almost as an afterthought, she said, “But you should know, I sent your picture to Gelman. You know, from Regis and Kathie Lee.”
I gasped. “I’m not doing one of those live makeovers, so you can just forget it.”
“No, silly. He’s single. And Regis thinks it’s about time for him to settle down. So I sent him your picture.” I felt a stabbing pain in my temple as she went on and on about how nice it would be to have a television producer in the family and wondered whether Regis and/or Kathie Lee would come to the wedding. “I told him to call after 6:00, so you’ll be home from work,” she concluded. “But before 8:00, because it’s just not polite to call someone after 8:00 p.m.”
I sighed. “He’s not gonna call, Mom.”
“Of course he will. I sent your picture. The one you had taken when you were trying to be an actress.” The fact that the photo had failed to garner me any acting assignments didn’t deter her from thinking it would land me a husband.
“But he lives in New York.”
“So? He can afford to travel. And you live in L.A. He’s probably there all the time on business. Oh my gosh —”
“What is it?”
From the level of alarm in her voice I thought the kitchen curtains must have caught on fire. But instead, she said, “I forgot to tell him about the time difference!”
I rolled my eyes. “He knows about the time difference, Mom.”
“I have to go write another letter,” she said before disconnecting.
Excerpted from "Have I Got a Guy for You" by Alix Strauss. Copyright 2008 Alix Strauss. All rights reserved.