My first experience with an in person match making firm happened in Canberra in 2006 after roughly 18 months of trying the online thing. The company I went through was recommended to me by my then housemate, who swore black and blue they were an excellent firm and had met her requirements. Looking back that possibly should have been warning sign number one that it wasn’t the best idea but I’ve always had a “I’ll try anything once so long as it isn’t illegal” mindset.
So I made an appointment for the “Relationship Consultancy Firm” (the new term for Matchmaker) for a friday evening after work. The dreaded day arrived and after a hellish day at work and trying to find parking in the centre of Canberra I really probably wasn’t in the best mindset to be doing what I was about to do, however cancelling appointments has never been something I’m good at even half dead I’ll rock up rather than stress myself out cancelling. After finding parking and much to the protest of my feet putting my fire engine red 4inch heels back on I trotted off to meet my doom.
I eventually fund the door for the place and upon opening it discovered the steepest staircase I’ve ever seen. Muttering swear words in several languages I trudged up the stairs. Opening the door at the top of the stairs I walked into the most hideously decorated office waiting area I have ever seen. The carpet was deep maroon red plush pile that when you stand on it your feet sink 6 inches. The walls were dusky pink with a row of those cuties couples pics that show a little boy and girl holding hands all done in black/white with a coloured rose in it, talk about rubbing salt in the wounds of the terminally single. The final decor in the waiting room where two plush loungers each about 6 foot long, done in dark wood and red velvet. The reception desk on my right was thank god a normal wood desk with a computer, phone, diary and no person or bell for summoning a person. I also realised the air smelt like some rose based perfume that almost instantly gave me a head ache.
Every instinct in my body screamed RUN and I was about to turn around and do precisely that when the door directly opposite me popped open and out bounced a tiny little woman with big hair and bigger boobs. When she opened her mouth and introduced herself the voice was deep and husky and sexy in a way a good phone sex operator would have killed for. The fact she had a dress that looked like it was painted on and 6inch platform heels on was making me wonder if “relationship consultancy firm” was Canberra code for brothel. Before I could run screaming she grabbed my hand and dragged me into the room she just popped out of and sat me down offering water and generally babbling about how happy she was to meet me. It was actually a little hard to understand her due to the wad of gum she was chewing and I was tempted to tell her it was very bad customer service to chew gum and talk at the same time but decided silence was probably a better option.
I’m going to call her Mary because for the life of me I can’t remember her name. So Mary after getting me comfy and making sure I had water gave me some forms to fill out and then left to go do whatever saying she’d be back in about 20 min. The forms where printed on purple paper and when I sniffed them I realised they’d been sprayed with the same rose scented perfume the waiting room was sprayed with. Reading the form the first part was the standard information on me with a few added extras like weight, hight, and is your hair colour natural (guess some guys don’t like finding out head and girl bits don’t match), did I like to read, did I have or want kids and so on. The next section of the form had partner preference so I was honest in the taller than me, employed, no criminal history, intelligent, be nice if he was in the armed forces, blue eyes but I’m not that fussy, good teeth and excellent personal hygiene. The final section was a question about preferred types of dates. My response was coffee would be preferred but long as I’m not getting arrested and no one is pointing guns at me then anything is fine.
Just as I was finishing up Mary bounced back into the room and getting my name wrong asked if I was all done. I corrected the name mistake and said yes. Mary then sat down on the opposite side of the desk and read her way through my forms, it only took a few minutes so evidently her IQ was higher than I originally gave her credit for but her bimbo factor went right back up when she took the gum out of her mouth to replace it with two new peaces.
After reading the responses she bounced back up and said “right Monique I’m just going to get some profiles so we know we’re totally on the same page” and bounced out the door before I could say anything. I thought cool this seems quite professional but the fact my name is Dominique and she’d just got it wrong for the 2nd time in less than 15 min despite having it clearly written on the paper in her hand should have warned me that appearances can be deceiving.
When Mary came back in she had 6 profiles with her all with a photo attached which she put on the desk. I was about to pick one up when she smacked my hand and moved them out of reach and looked sheepish and said sorry but they contain personal info I can show you the photos and read you some of their info but you can see the whole profile. Browny points for security and the hand smack told me she had little kidds, so trying to be nice I asked her about her kidds. I don’t remember the response but she did become slightly less frosty bimbo and more human after that even if she continued to get my name wrong.
I had to stop myself from rolling my eyes when I noticed all the guys profiles where on the same purple paper and had the same rose perfume scent woffting off as the profile I’d just filled out. I was also mentally wondering how they get guys to stay long enough to fill in a profile let alone pay for membership with the girly smell and bordello decor when I looked across the desk at the 5foot, double D cup, size 8, husky voiced employee interviewing me and went “ahhh that’s how”. What I should have been thinking was “if she’s the lure to make them sign up what type of women are they expecting to be sent on dates with”?
So we went through the profiles and split them into 2 definitely, 2 maybe and 2 no way in hell. The 2 definitely where both in the Army, both over 6 foot and looked so similar they could have been genetically related. The 2 maybe where slightly lesser versions of the definitely as in they were not quite 6 foot, little heavier build and so on. The 2 no way in hells, one was shorter than me in my bear feet and bald and the other one looked like Fryer Tuck out of the Robin Hood movies (ring of hair, short, fat and badly dressed). I’d now been in this place for 2 hours and had a killer headache so I asked Mary to ramp it up a bit as I had dinner plans with friends.
The next step was to go through the pricing structure which took for ever considering there are 3 levels of membership that you could take out for 3, 6 or 12 months:
* Gold you pay through the nose but you are a priority client (bullshit), your matched only with gold members if possible (bullshit), you can go on as many dates as you want (they struggled to meet that requirement) and you have access to your consultant (in my case Mary) when every you need to see them in person or over the phone (bullshit).
* Silver not as expensive, limited to 12 matches a month, can have 2 consultations in person with your consultant but any number of phone consultations.
*Bronze limited to 6 matches a month, no in person consultations and limited number of phone consultations etc.
I went with Gold Membership after all I wanted good service which didn’t happen and I didn’t want to restrict the number of dates I could go on after all I’m fussy I know that, oh and it came with a bonus 2 months of member ship so I was getting 5 not 3 and I could put my membership on hold for up to 8 months if I met someone. Mary look puzzled when I pointed out that wasn’t very good advertising for their service after all the whole point is to meet someone and have the happily ever after not come back after 7 months of dating for more torcher.
Having signed my contract and handed over my life savings the adventure began. The way it was supposed to work was Mary would ring me and give me options for dates to go on, interestingly enough she never gave me options meaning more then one to pick from she’d ring me up with a guy she’d found for me to date that week. I’d say yes or no – I never said no and she’d then contact him and give him my phone number he’d call me within 24 hours (didn’t always happen in that time frame), we’d arrange to meet, go on date and then Mary would talk to him and then me about how the date went. If there were issues we’d “discuss” them and sort it out to better met my requirements.
After the first date my relationship with my consultant started to go down hill rapidly. After date 2 where the guy given my details turned out to have 3 restraining orders against him and was so dumb he got lost making deliveries on the same rout he’d been delivering on for 6 years I scheduled a sit down meeting with Mary to “discuss” the issues. After Mary cancelled 3 times in a row, I walked into the office at lunch time one day and politely told the receptionist I’d wait till either Mary or the owner of the company was available for a chat, 4 hours later Mary and I had a “discussion”. I left thinking we where at least in the same book store even if we were not quite in the same section on my “preferred dates”. The next scheduled date was not a bad guy and closer to my preferred dates than we’d gotten before so things appeared to be improving. How wrong could I have been, the remaining dates I went on ending with a final date who admitted to having done speed before showing up for the date, where disasters to put it nicely. Needless to say the more dates I went on the less nice my “debrief” conversations got with Mary and I really didn’t have another 5 hours to waste sitting in the companies reception area till she’d be free to see me. After my final date with the speed and gambling junky I rang Mary and left a very clear voice mail message telling her what I thought of her ability to do her job, polite no but I was paying a very large amount of money for very bad service and I was by that point very shat off.
3 days later I got a call from Carmel who was apparently my new consultant as Mary had requested to be taken off my case as I was to difficult to manage. The discussion ended with Carmel saying to me “what are you expecting it’s not like your built like a super model a lady your size (I was a size 18 at the time) should be happy anyone is will to go out with her at all. You really need to lower your expectations sweetheart.”. My response of “Sugar even if I lowed my expectations to pond scum your clients would still not meet them and if you or anyone in your company contacts me again you’ll be hearing from my lawyer” was probably not expected since she was babbling something about coming in for a meeting when I hung up on her.
Interestingly enough 7 months later they phoned to see if I was over my snit and wanted to take my membership off hold and resume dating, The girl on the phone hung up on me without saying anything when I said “lady the dates your company sent me on equated to the worst 3 months of my life why the fuck would I ever want to have contact with you idiots again” and thankfully I’ve never heard from them again. I will in detail later describe the dates including the one I climb out a bathroom window to end in later posts.
One would think after that experience I would never set foot in a Matchmakers office ever again but oh no I did. However I never signed up with any of them I just went through the preliminary interviews which I’ll cover next week.