Dan Fields deals in futures. The kind of futures that begin with a proposal.
A marriage proposal.
"I am an old-fashioned marriage broker," said Field, whose family firm has been in the business of "making arrangements" for three generations.
"Those who walk into my office walk into a future. We do not play games. Our clients want to get married. And we help them find a path to the altar." Since 1920, Field's Martrimonial Service, 41 E. 42nd St., New York, has been tying wedding knots all over the world.
"We handle all religious, all ages, worldwise," said Field, "and it all began with Grandpa Joe Field in Russia.
"Grandpa Joe was a rabbi who had been dealing in marriageable commodities before he came to America," said Field.
"His friends would say, 'Rabbi, do you know a nice girl for our wonderful son?' Grandpa Joe would say, I know such a girl!'
"He came here a penniless Jew with a matchmaking prowess and soon he turned his talent into a business."
At first, the marital enterprise was conducted in Grandpa Joe's living room and he served only Jewish customers, Field said.
"'We can arrange,' my grandfather would say, and he would invite the nervous couple over for dinner on Friday night.
"If they liked each other, fine. Then they would talk again Saturday. And if they still liked each other, they would do business the next day. God forbid that the deal take place before Sabbath was over.
"So, on Sunday, they would sign a 90-day contract. They would agree to court for 90 days. Then they would marry. No long engagement. It was all very nice and proper.
"The couple was always chaperoned; they could meet only at home or in the synagogue, and Grandpa Joe would get his fee. If the match mated, he got 10 percent of the dowry."
But times are different now. "Wedding bells ring a little differently," said Field. "They sing different tunes. It used to be, a nice girl wanted a nice boy with a nice job, who wanted family.
"Nowadays, girls are more particular. They make $20,000 a year, so they want a boy who makes $40,000.
"And the men, well, they are more elusive. Forget about the chicken soup and the babies. They don't want to get married. They are spoiled by the women who live with them. Why get married?"
Nevertheless, Field's still claims success in its matchmaking enterprise.
"We handle only the best -- people serious about getting married and who maintain high standards for themselves. Most of our people are very successful in their fields and are very grateful to Field's.
"I know I am," said Field. "I met my wife 27 years ago, thanks to my Uncle Irving, who was then running the firm after Grandpa Joe retired.
"My wife's family had placed her on file with Field's, and Uncle Irv checked it out and introduced us. Talk about such a deal!"
Field's has orchestrated marriages in Australia, Africa, Europe, the Mideast -- and even Abu Dhabi, a shiekdom on the Persian Gulf.
"The gentleman from Abu Dhabi was a Moslem who wanted to marry an American woman. He was a businessman who came here many times. I sent him 18 names and he wrote to each. They exchanged pictures.
"He narrowed the list down to an affectionate, home-type Christian woman who was 38. She had never been married, and taught psychology. They both wanted a family and a quiet, intellectual life. They got it.
"They came in recently to bless me. They gave me cash."
Field said requests come from little towns, where choice mates are at a premium; embassies handling inquiries from their countrymen; parents concerned about their child's future; and lonely men and women.
"But we aren't a lonely-hearts club," he said. "I sent one man 150 names. He kept asking for more. I called him. I said, 'No more. You are too picky. Nobody's perfect. You'd better settle down.' He did. He chose someone from the first list I sent him."
But most inquiries come from distraught parents. "They say, 'I have a beautiful daughter of 25 years who dates and dates and nothing materializes."
"I have them fill out a form, send them a list of boys' names and then send the boys the daughter's name. They call the house and say, 'I am a friend of your mother.' Then it begins.
"The parents must trust I only send them good boys. Times have changed. We don't chaperone. But we screen very carefully."
The firm's youngest client was a 16-year-old girl from a small Midwestern town. She married the boy they recommended, after three years of correspondence.
The oldest was 92. Once before, the firm had found the man a wife. They also arranged his third marriage.
"But we had one stubbon 80-year-old who insisted he wanted a 21-year-old wife," said Field. "I said, 'Your body looks good, but your motor has a lot of mileage.' I tried to dissuade him. So he went on a cruise and met a young girl. He came back. I said, 'You survived. You're still here.' He said, 'I'm still here. But my bank account is gone.'
"So we found him a nice 78-year-old wife. But I still think she was too young for him."
Field's fees range from $25 to $250. "It all depends on the amount of work. But it is such nice work."