He is a lawyer and she is a lawyer and therefore they simply must meet.

Hate at first sight.

Boring, she says.

I don't want to date a woman who's bald and smokes cigars, he says, turning to a frivolous thing who feels that if tortes must enter her life, let them be filled with raspberry jam.

It happens ever time, yet the matchmaker plots on. It is perfectly possible to leave two single people in peace, happily unintroduced, but few of us seem able to do so. Therefore, if match you must here are some ideas on how to do it successfully.

Abby Hirsch is president of The God-mothers, a New York-Washington-Boston-based dating service for the kind of successful people who have more time for their business than their social life. An inveterate matchmaker before giving up her amateur status, she says, "Put different things in different parts of the room. A gun and a box of ammunition on one table. A pile of Godiva chocolates on another. Somewhere else have stacks of old books. People who are drawn to the same things will start talking and probably get along. If she's over admiring the gun and he's eating the Godiva chocolates, cross them off."

Washington free-lance writer Sandy Bain never tells people there's someone she'd like to meet. It makes them too self-conscious. And she always asks other single people. "If you have only two singles, they know right away what you're up to."

In Burma, where Wendy Law-Yone grew up, most matches are made during the spring Water Festival. "People roam the city for three days, throwing water on each other. No one is safe not even the monks. You invite your friends and your brother invites his friends, and you ride around town huddled together on a truck, stopping at the pavilions. The men "protect" the women from the water, and by the end of the day everyone is huddled together with only a thin layer of wet clothes between them. It's romantic and very sensual."

Drenching your guests is an extreme measure, but adversity brings people together. If you could arrange for the lights to go out, the ceiling to gently cave in or your stove to break down, your guests would unite to save you. Short of that, dinners that require that guests help are a good idea. If you have a pasta machine, use it with the help of all hands. It's hard for people to be distant when draped with linguine.

Fondue is a dish that breeds group spirit. Even if you ignore the Swiss custom of kissing when you lose your bread cube (and why should you?) it's hard to feel uncomfortable with someone when you're eating out of the same pot.

It all comes down to chemistry which means no matchmaking is assured of success. Not even the basest, according to a recent emigre from California who reports that now, when men throw their car keys into a hat in the center of the living room, "Everyman grabs the keys and runs off, hoping for a Mercedes Benz. They leave the women behind.