MATCHMAKING IS A GOOD THING, a necessary thing. Matchmaking is not about meddling. Matchmaking is about the human urge for . . . completion. Yeah, that's it. It is a spiritual pursuit, a most holy calling, a duty to facilitate the good works of the love angels.

Yeah, that's it. That's why I'm going to call Lou and talk to him about Karen. And that's why I'm going to call Karen and talk to her about Lou. What in the world is the holdup with these two? I mean, jeez. I can't do everything. A matchmaker needs her rest.

I've known both Lou and Karen for years, but I never thought of the romantic potential until they were introduced about two years ago at a conference. They shook hands and I thought: Eureka! I felt the electricity flow from her to him and him to her and then over to me, where it surged straight into my spinal cord, calling me into action. Minutes later, I walked right up to Karen and said, "Wow. Lou thinks you are terrific." She looked at me and said, "How can you tell?" I told her I could feel it. She looked over at him. "He is kinda cute," she said.

Wow! I marched right over to Lou. "Karen thinks you're cute," I said. He looked at me and said, "Who?"

Sigh. (A matchmaker never knows how difficult any particular job is going to be.) "Karen," I said. "The woman you just met over there?"

"Oh," he said. "Well, she seems really nice."

Bingo! I could see it happening before my eyes. Two of my dearest friends, old friends who have been unlucky in love, coming together and finding each other and living happily ever after. It made me realize the universe was fair, splendid and benevolent. It gave me hope.

It gave me something to do. (It was a very boring conference.)

Lou and Karen spoke a few more times that weekend. I wasn't the only one who saw sparks. (A lot of other people thought the conference was boring, too.) Two years went by and . . . nothing. Karen lives in New York, and Lou lives in Pittsburgh. I figured it was a distance problem. I awaited further instructions from the love angels, but none were forthcoming.

Then one day last summer Karen and Lou found themselves at another conference. I was not even there to facilitate their union, but union they did. Well, they talked for hours, laughed and even hugged. Then Lou invited Karen to visit him at his seashore house. After the seashore visit, Karen called me. She said they had an incredible time. But no kissing. Even though Lou's 8-year-old son (with a very promising career) put Karen's hand in Lou's when they were walking down the boardwalk. Karen was disappointed with the no-kiss. She said she was having trouble "reading" Lou. She invited him to visit her in New York. He did. They went to a lecture, ducked raindrops as they ran to catch Lou's train. And then, right there in Grand Central Station, he bent over to kiss her.

"And I turned away," she tells me.


"I didn't mean to! I got scared! Or, I don't know! But I blew it. I need another chance."

Sigh. I tell her I'll get back to her. I don't tell her that I am going to call Lou.

When Lou answers the phone, I ask him about Karen. He tells me he's having trouble "reading" her. He doesn't tell me about the thwarted kiss, and I don't ask. (Matchmakers are sensitive to the fact that men have trouble with the word "kiss.") I make a bold move. I tell him that I have reason to believe that Karen would like to see him again.

"I don't think so," he says. "She didn't even answer my last e-mail."

Hmm. I ask him what the e-mail said. He says she had written with a simple, "How are you?" Which he answered with: "Busy." And then he enumerated some of the more pressing demands on his life. And then he wrote, "Aren't you sorry you asked?"

Oy, I say.

He says Karen never answered, and he is taking that as a final rejection.

I sigh my biggest sigh. (Matchmakers sigh a lot.) I explain that no woman in her right mind would answer an e-mail like that.

"But I ended it with a question mark," he says. "Wasn't that a sign? An invitation?"

I consider hanging up on him. I consider throwing in the towel.

Instead, I close my eyes, call forth my powers. I invite Lou to visit me for a weekend at the farm. I tell him Karen will be here. He accepts. I call Karen and invite her to visit me for a weekend, tell her Lou will be here. She accepts. I draw a bath, fill it with bubbles, submerge myself and summon the love angels for further instructions. I am getting tired. But a matchmaker must never complain. A matchmaker must keep her eye on the prize. A matchmaker only pretends to be in this for herself, as if she were some bored gossip hound watching a soap opera. A matchmaker knows love when she sees it. Stay tuned.

Jeanne Marie Laskas's e-mail address is