BY MARCIA CALLER JAFFE / AJT //
Certainly the High Holidays are serious and spiritual times for us; but did you know that in the Temple era it was a time for single men and women to “hook up” and seek appropriate mates?
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Consider what some of the South’s most high profile and enduring couples have in common.
Robyn Spizman Gerson and Edwin Gerson, Barbara and Ed Mendel, Randee ad Bill Lieppe, Debbie and Stan Sonenshine, Barbara and Harvey Mays, Brenda and Steve Weinstein, and Ellen and Bruce Fleisher, to name a few. Some were my original “matchmaking successes” from decades ago.
Long before my son, Judd, suggested that I was going to heaven with just a minimum of three “match made” marriages, I enjoyed introducing couples. Now today as a second “go round” – single after 50, the tools have changed; but the need is still there.
And I always believed that there is “a pot for every lid,” and that it’s more efficient to meet someone through someone who knows you, shares your core values and, let’s be honest, a comparable level of attractiveness, ambition, and baggage (in some cases “cargo”).
Not receiving any compensation means sticking my neck out into some very sensitive things like someone’s potential rejection. My style is low risk: be open to meet at a park or for coffee, then you decide.
Remember Hillary Clinton said, “There’s a place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” So if a guy wasn’t right for me, I had no problem passing him along to another woman; and keeping him in my network of friends.
In the early seventies, I met Stanley Sonenshine in the laundry room in Buford Highway’s Seville Apartments. After our movie date, I invited Stan back to my apartment to meet my roommate Debbie Goldenberg.
I slipped back into my bedroom to take a phone call, and left Stanley to Debbie in her orange hot pants and tight blouse; and 40 years later they are happy grandparents. Stanley sent me flowers on their first anniversary; but then felt the debt was satisfied.
Sometimes it’s a “happy accident”.
Thirty-nine years ago, Ed Mendel, minority owner of the Falcons and founder of Ned Davis Research, considered himself the young Ryan O’Neal of Buford Highway. After our date at Ess ‘n Fress, we decided that friendship was our best direction.
Eddie came back the following day to bring dinner; but I was no where to be seen. My lovely neighbor Barbara Sherman answered my door. “When opportunity knock . . . be there” was her motto.
Just think, I could have been cheering for the Falcons instead of our “alta cocker team” that is patiently headed by Coach Karen Schatten Shmerling.
Randee Gilbert, who worked at the Atlanta Journal Constitution with me, and Cardiologist Bill Lieppe portended a harder case. After the initial introduction and weeks of dating, they broke up three times.
They were just not ready!
They had to be re-fixed up with crazy glue. I had to convince Randee to try one more time, and, concurrently, prod Bill to take her back (he was quite the eligible batchelor).
Thirty years later, Bill still makes her heart race. Meanwhile, Randee, our top Fashion Industry Account Executive, quit her job to plan the wedding. “It’s easier to find a job than a doctor-husband” was my sentiment.
Cousin Harvey Mays, who was in the metal business at the time, was too busy to call Barbara Skutch after several urgings on my part; but when Harry Maziar gave him the same name, Harvey went into action.
Barbara says she “still loves him as much as the day she met him,” while Harvey (known to his friends as HP) said he wished he had as much hair now as he had then, 31 years ago. Barbara is certainly well entertained, as I find Harvey to be spontaneous, witty, and self-deprecating.
Robyn Freedman Spizman, vice president of a top event-catering company, and major media personality, was divorced less than a month when her birthday came around.
I said, “No way are you going to be alone. Come to the Jerry Farber Club and take your pick”. I had three eligible men waiting to meet her.
She picked Radiologist Ed Gerson, my childhood friend from Columbus, Ga, who had been single for 10 years. His license plate read “ICN2U”. Robyn was swept off her feet by his kindness and intelligence. Last June they celebrated their first anniversary.
Recently I arranged three “plus 50” romances that are seriously committed; but will remain anonymous until such time as they make their formal announcement in this publication.
They had to be coached along the way. One is a therapist; and he was afraid she would analyze him. She didn’t like that he had cats. They worked it out. We tend to over think these things as we age.
Pets are a new deal changer in some cases. Energy level, neatness, and long-term care insurance may be things we did not consider in our twenties.
Here are some of my pointers:
Be open to meet anyone (that your friend knows) in a safe place where you have your own transportation. Don’t prejudge. It’s okay to do a little research to see if he has been arrested or bankrupt.
Remember the goal isn’t always marriage; just remember that “100 percent of the people you don’t meet never work out.”
Look in the mirror. If you’re an out of shape older man, thinning hair and no job, don’t expect to be fixed up with Carmen Diaz; but someone wonderful will love you just the same.
Actually bald is okay, just no comb over. USA TODAY did a survey that revealed that single women were more attracted to men who dressed well than who actually had a big bank account.
Go to TJ Maxx, buy some nice black slacks, metro cuffed shirt and black shoes; and don’t use a restaurant coupon on the first date.
After the first date, you’re on your own. After five dates, a man called me with “an attitude” after love went sour. “Why did you fix me up with that difficult woman?” I said, “you asked her out after the first time, it’s no longer on my dime.”
No movies on the first date. Talk face to face. Movies are awkward; do we hold hands? Explicit sex scenes, which are now in about every movie, make for weirdness with a stranger you want to impress.
The movie sets a particular mood you might not want. A hundred years ago, I saw “Looking for Mr. Goodbar” on a first date. On the way home, he took out his comb; and I was going to jump out of the car. We never went out again.
I have no patience for perfectionism.
I recently ran into a woman after our kids were in school together decades ago. I offered to introduce her to some new men. The first (and only) one was a very eligible retired dentist who is a doting father and grandfather, handsome, all around good guy.
I got an email from her the next day with paragraphs about how he doesn’t cook for himself or make coffee from scratch. After I tuned out, I wished her well on her own.
It’s okay to say, “we had no chemistry”; but no “bubba miecies” about not making coffee. I know a male friend who is going to a therapist who specializes in perfectionism problems in dating. When things get serious, he picks them apart and heads for the highway. At least he is seeking help.
I don’t fix up interfaith couples. It’s not my niche. Non-Jews have a huge pool of their own.
At this age, it’s cool to be honest and polite at the same time. A woman who has a good time on a first date could say to the man (who may be uncertain), “I had a nice time and hope that you call again”.
On the other hand, a man who has no intention of calling for a second date should not say he will call. Just say, “thank you for the evening, it was nice meeting you”.
To be honest, I haven’t had much luck with the older or younger crowd. My 27-year-old daughter gets upset when I pick up a handsome young man at an event and show him her Facebook link.
Last month I took two attractive 80-plus women to Friday night services to meet a recently widowed physician. They were open, he was frightened and made a beeline for the car; yes, he still drives at night.
If all else fails, try plan B: JDate or JWed.
About the writer
After 35 years with the Atlanta Newspapers, Marcia currently serves as Retail VP for the Buckhead Business Association where she delivers news and trends(laced with a little gossip). On the side, Marcia is Captain of the Senior Cheerleaders for the WNBA at Philips Arena.