Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Orangeberry Book of the Day - Diary of a Beverly Hills Matchmaker by Marla Martenson (Excerpt 1)

Matchmaker, Matchmaker!
Make Me a Match

Achichi decorator came up with the color of one of the walls in my Beverly Hills office by matching paint swatches to the silky dark chocolate Godiva heart-shaped ganaches that sit in a crystal dish alongside Teuscher Irish Cream truffles, and chocolate cordials of cherries soaked in black port and wrapped in gold foil. We do pamper our clients. I mention this so you’ll know that there are many aspects of my job that I absolutely adore. Such niceties distract me from fantasies of . . . dismemberment.

Hi Marla, Scott, here. I’m so glad I joined your dating agency; I can see this is going to be verrrrry interesting. . . . Hey, the gal you lined me up with last evening was gorgeous, but I would really like my matches to be a 10 or, ideally, a 10+. And the gal needs to back up her beauty with an income of her own and her own living quarters. No roommate situations. I don’t waste my time with someone who doesn’t live up to my expectations—you know, long legs, firm small butt, double-D’s, thin arms, blonde hair.



Dear Scott,

To paraphrase the deathless sentiments of Roseanne Barr, I’ll get my wand. Oh, wait, it’s in the repair shop, utterly depleted. I’m having to make do with our back-up magic lamp, but the genie keeps laughing and muttering about peace in the Middle East being an easier request as he disappears in a puff of smoke. He’s such a joker. But since you have so much to offer, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find the woman of your fantasies since all the 10+s in our database say that a man willing to plough up his bald scalp with those cute little tufts of implanted hair is a real turn-on. And most “gals” don’t mind giving up their stilettos to avoid towering over a man of your stature.

Of course, I don’t write this. This is my first email of the day at Double D Dating Service here in Beverly Hills where I’m the head matchmaker. Double D is not the company’s real name, as you may have guessed, just my own special pet name for it. I dash off a breezy professional response to Scott as if diplomacy were my mother tongue.

Dear Scott,

I’m so glad you enjoyed your evening with a gorgeous woman. A new and interesting experience, huh? Well, we do have an ever-growing list of many stunning women, eager to meet you. I’ll get back to you later in the day with another name.


Something is nagging at me. Oh, my conscience. It’s not bothering me at all about the direct lie: eager to meet you. I’ve left in a little dig. I change that one snarky line about dating gorgeous women being a new experience to simply “An interesting experience indeed,” and hit send. Next email.

Dear Marla,

I really found Sandy to be attractive, fun, intelligent, and cultured. We had a great time. The only thing is, I am wondering if she has a big butt. She was wearing one of those puffy dresses. She says that she does all kinds of activities like dance classes, working out at the gym, and hiking, but I just can’t be sure how big her butt is. Is there any way you can let me know if it’s big or if the dress she was wearing just gave that illusion?


Joe, don’t you know that when we bring a woman into our service, it means that we have carefully inspected her butt from every angle and therefore certify it is also a 10 along with the rest of her? I’m so glad you asked though, because you must never ever consider dating a woman with flesh on her butt. Oversized curves belong above the waist only. Makes perfect sense. How could nature have created such a serious design flaw?

Sigh. I find it so comforting to type out what I truly want to say to some of these clods before writing the response I must write. God forbid Gary should ever see this stuff. I am, after all, good at what I do. Pictures of my successes hang on the chocolate-colored wall above fresh pale pink hydrangeas: two of happy couples at their respective posh wedding receptions and several more couples on honeymoons at places like Bellagio on Lake Como in Italy, or snorkeling with humpback whales off Vava’u, Tonga, in the South Pacific, or skiing in Aspen. I do still believe in love—the soul-mate kind of love. I think deep down, the Scotts and Josephs do too. They just rarely know it.

Dear Joseph,

Sandy’s dress probably created the wrong illusion. Call her for another date; I think you will be pleased to find that in addition to being beautiful, intelligent, and a most remarkable woman, she’s also fit and trim.


I polish off my vanilla soy latte, ready for the next email, when I hear Gary, my boss, barking at Charlotte, the other matchmaker in the office. She hangs her head as she follows him into his office. He doesn’t usually come in on Thursdays, so this isn’t looking good for Charlotte.

I step outside the artistically etched glass double doors of my office to check with Alana at the front desk. “What’s going on?” I ask in a stage whisper.

Alana, a petite blonde in her twenties with big brown eyes and a gorgeous smile, is just about to say something when Gary strides over. “Back to work!” he tells me. Then to Alana he says, “Find the Harrison file. . . . And never wear those shoes here again. If you want to look like Peter Pan, work somewhere else.”

I can’t help but turn to check out Alana’s shoes. Ohh, they’re darling: green flats with little cut-outs of stars.

“Marla, I hope you have some makeup in your bag,” Gary says. “You’re looking washed out again. Do you go to the gym before work or something? Don’t you two get it that we’re all about glamour and sex appeal here? Our clients don’t want Peter Pan and Miss Grundy lining up their matches.”

“Right,” I say, feeling my face redden to the roots of my already red hair. “I’ll touch up.” Gary can be a nice guy, but he does go on rampages.

Back in my office, I pile all my black matchmaking catalogues on my desk to hide from Gary’s view. I eat a chocolate. Then another. One more. Call it an early lunch. Mmmmm. Better. Deep breaths, a few affirmations. I am young and hot-looking. I am a terrific matchmaker. I am lucky to have this job.

Back to work. Next email.

Dear Marla,

Denise looks like she’s pushing forty. Not to say there’s anything wrong with that. I live in Newport, so I can’t help but date forty-year-olds occasionally, but when it comes to being set up with someone through an exclusive agency such as yours, I don’t want to waste “matches.” And we need to talk about Natasha, the last gal you lined me up with—a bit low-brow, don’t you think? I will send you a few photos of females that I find attractive so hopefully that will help you see the caliber of beauty I’m seeking. I want to date ONLY beautiful women, and I just won’t settle for anything less.

Let me know if anyone in your stable meets my criteria.

Thanks, Dave.

I had matched him with Natasha because of the astonishing bounty of her bosom. But as to Denise—she’s nowhere near the accursed four-oh. But if she were, how could any man in his fifties possibly be expected to tolerate a crone of such advanced years?

His comment reminds me that I haven’t “touched up” yet. I pull out my compact and scrutinize time’s deepening etch in the tiny lines around my eyes. I pat them over with mineral powder, add a dusting of blush to my cheeks, a brighter lipstick, and heavy gloss.

I sit back and ponder the photo of Denise, a gorgeous twenty-eight-year-old woman, and all I can do is shake my head. This beautiful young woman is Dave’s fourth reject. Before I worked in the matchmaking field, I honestly had no idea how shallow, picky, selfish, and entitled some clients could be. After six years of feedback, demands, and expectations, I’m still thrown for a loop now and then. I don’t want to pass judgment on people; I want to keep an open heart, but geez.

It’s times like this when I need an anchor, a sane voice, someone who lives far away from the zany nuttiness of Beverly Hills. I call my friend Shelly in Federal Way, Washington, where we both grew up—it’s a little suburb of Seattle, a land far away from this town’s obsession with age, looks, and perfection.

“Listen to this,” I tell her and then read her Dave’s email— anonymously, of course.

I hear a gasp on the other end of the line.

“My reaction exactly,” I tell her.

“What is he? Some rich stud?”

“Well, rich anyway. I’m supposed to find matches for these guys. They all want perfect 10s—even if they’re dweebs who’d be lucky to rate a 5!”

“What about the women?”

“Yeah, some days the gold-diggers and airheads get to me too.”

“Guess I don’t have to envy you anymore, thinking that you have the perfect life in Los Angeles,” Shelly teases. “At least you’re not still a waitress in Chicago.”

Shelly is referring to my life seven years ago. Memories of my fourteen years spent waiting on tables jolt my sense of perspective, spurring me to work ever harder and continue with the exasperating emails,.

I see Charlotte walk past my door, head held high, but I can tell she’s gotten the ax. She starts cleaning out her office. We weren’t close, so I won’t be going over and chatting. I’ll get the scoop later from Alana. After Charlotte leaves, Gary sticks his nose in my door.

“You look better,” he says. “You’ll have to meet Charlotte’s noon appointment. I’m not replacing her, so you’ll be taking her people.” He closes the door and leaves before I can say anything.

In other words, double the work, same pay. Oh boy!

Dutifully, I meet Andy and take him into the “selling office” with its stunning wall fountain sheeting water over pink-veined slabs of granite and pooling in a pink copper basin beneath two spotlights angled to form a soft heart-shape. The arty painting on the opposite wall captures dancers, hungry with passion, a slash of pink light falling on the woman’s tan face and cleavage. Its subtle eroticism is designed to inspire rich guys to pay top dollar for what they imagine will be the world’s classiest women. I offer the new client something to drink, and we settle in to chat about what he is looking for in a lady and what his lifestyle is like.

Andy has just flown in for the day to buy a sex life, I mean meet someone, and then he’ll jet back to Dallas. He has the most charming Southern accent.

He’s forty-six years old with three kids: aged eight, ten, and twelve. He explains that he would like to meet women under thirty because he’d like the option of having another child.

Uh-huh. Right. He’s eager to go through diapers and babysitters and soccer games for the fourth time. I’ve found that men usually claim to want one more kid as an excuse to date younger women.

I learn that Andy likes riding horses, racing cars, playing golf, working out at the gym, and traveling. He says that although he isn’t a redneck, he’s a redneck at heart—whatever that means. “Do you prefer a fresh-faced girl-next-door look, or more of a Pamela Anderson type of look?” I ask him.

He mentions blonde hair and nice legs, then pulls on his goatee and says, “Well, now I’ll tell you, my ex-wife wears a C-cup, but she has nice nipples.”

I stop taking notes. And so . . . ?

Then I get it. This guy expects me to know what a woman’s nipples are like! I focus on my clipboard and remind myself that he will be paying $40,000 to find the right woman. Maybe more. I manage not to hiss at him.

After the meeting, I walk Andy down to the taxi stand. He turns to me and says, “I want you to be honest. Do you think that I have a chance to meet the right girl? Am I going to be too difficult to match up?”

“Not at all, Andy! You’re a great catch with a wonderful lifestyle.” Lots of gorgeous L.A. women are closet rednecks. “I’ll start looking for matches for you this week. Have a safe trip.” I want to add: and I’ll be investigating nipple potential for you, sir!

I’m also remembering a recent client who broke up with a thirty-two-year-old woman he really liked because he said that she had big areolas. Yes, big areolas! She was perfect in every way: sweet, charming, financially secure, intelligent, cute as a posy with a rockin’ body, but he said that he dreaded when she took off her blouse. After dating him, she felt so insecure that she called a plastic surgeon to see if he’d take a look at her areolas. Yikes!

I guess I should change our questionnaire to include nipple preferences. I could put in something subtle like, “How do you feel about headlights on a Duesenberg?” I’ve seen older guys fall over themselves laughing at this line. I had to look it up. Fabulously snazzy old car with, you know, big headlights, wink, wink.

Something has gone too far though.

I don’t mind telling you that when I first took this job, I considered myself young and hot-looking, but after working with some of these guys and hearing their smug criticism over every aspect of a woman’s body, I’m a bit crestfallen. Getting bombarded with male mating preferences is very disconcerting. Now that I’m fortyish, I look in the mirror, and I see someone who looks pretty darn good looking back at me. So why are so many men obsessing over the extra ounce of flesh, the telltale frown line, and nipple perfection? Gimme a flippin’ break!

I push past the clueless effrontery of these men every day, but once in a while, I catch myself judging my most intimate anatomy by their standards. I get so many of these emails every week, they slither around in my head nagging at me about how I’m officially “undesirable”—according to what most of my male clients think they want and must have. How could these idiots close themselves off to the wonders of love for something so damn insignificant?

I take a deep breath or two. I’m already a little wired with caffeine, but I cannot get through the rest of this day without another soy latte. ’Bucks is just down the street, and I still have a few minutes left of my lunch break.

I need this job, I remind myself while in line for my midday fix. And, I mean, who doesn’t want an ideal mate? A dream lover is the stuff of fantasies. Yet, who among us is ideal? The pain of being dumped or disappointed is what keeps people going to shrinks, buying self-help books, bravely enduring elective surgery—and hiring us.

Bolstered by another caffeine infusion, I slog through the rest of the day, interviewing men who are willing to spend up to $100,000 to get the woman of their fantasies. (The women do not pay. This figures: If you’re a gorgeous woman, it is unlikely you are going to need to pay anyone to find you a date.) I keep current on the feedback. Both the man and woman are to report on how they found their date: strong mate potential? Problems? Did everyone “behave” themselves? I think you know what I mean.

Gary has left for the day, and Alana comes into my office with the scoop. “Charlotte was fired because two clients complained she didn’t pay attention to what they were looking for. You know what that means!”

“Yeah. They’ll now be my problem,” I say.

At six o’clock, I still have an hour to go before quitting time. I grab my cell phone and call my friend Bobbie in Del Mar. I’m not going to whine, I just want to hear her upbeat stuff. Her life is exciting. She usually picks up on the first call. I love that. Hate phone tag.

“Hi, it’s Marla.”

We chat a bit and Bobbie invites me to an upcoming social event—something to do with farm animals?

I’m so tired, I just say, “Sounds wonderful.”

“Are you at home yet?” she asks.

“No. Everyone else in our building gets off at five, but I still have another hour of work.”

“You work till seven? Marla, honestly, you deserve combat pay! Especially with the bizarro demands from some of your clients! Do something fun tonight!”

“I should finish chapter 4 of my new book, but I just don’t have the juice. Maybe I’ll do some window-shopping down on Rodeo. That’s always good for a lift.”

“Is Adolfo working?”

“Of course. My nights are pathetic, I know.”

“Marla, you should just open your own matchmaking service. You’d be fabulous and then you could make your own hours!”

“Thanks. People have suggested I do that, but honestly, I like being able to hand over the big problems to Gary.”

There is a pause. “Sweetie, something’s wrong. I can tell. I’m a little worried about you,” Bobbie says. “I mean, excuse me, your soul is limping.”

I chuckle. She’s doing a little riff off the title of my first book, Excuse Me, Your Soul Mate Is Waiting.

The office line is ringing, and Alana is long gone.

“I gotta go,” I say. “I love you. Talk to you soon.”

I pick up the office phone, schedule an appointment, and get back to the emails, back to the guys who are looking for gorgeous, starving waifs with double D cups—“tits on a stick,” as Bobbie calls them.


I am a terrific Beverly Hills matchmaker happily playing Cupid all day long.

I have many wonderful friends like Shelly and Bobbie whose friendship keeps me from screaming at highly inappropriate times.

Heaven has blessed me with perfectly lovely areolas, thank you very much!

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Memoir

Rating – PG13

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