October 23, 2012

The Set Up. ~ Dara Brown

The other day I was sitting with the girls.

We had just finished up a day at a food festival (yes, the absolute best kind of festival) and tasted some delicious things and sipped on some wine. Needless to say we were exhausted at the end because that much fun (and sugar) really wears you out.

So settling down at an outdoor table listening to a latin jazz band on a perfect fall day was the best cap to it all.

In good single women fashion, the conversation eventually turns to important topics like dating, shoes, sex, and wondering what that person over there was thinking when they got dressed. But the dating topic kept coming up.

It is a pervasive topic among us. Sometimes dating talk includes intense strategy sessions that would rival any meeting of the Joints Chiefs. They say hell knows no fury like a woman scorned, except a single woman on a mission.

We honed in on our subtopic—all the means of meeting a date.

We talked Match and eHarmony, bars, church, mutual friends, etc. I know everyone has their preferred means of meeting someone or, on the flip side, how they prefer not to meet someone. Some things are just automatic turns off. For me, it’s the set up. I find nothing more contrived than being introduced to someone that I’m supposed to like—no matter how well-intentioned the setter-upper is.

Let me give you a couple examples, because I know this is not everyone’s experience. I’ve had discussions with friends who prefer to be set up, to know that the person they’re being introduced to has been vetted by someone else. This does not ensure that there will be chemistry, just that they’re not completely crazy (hopefully).

I, however, believe a set up is set up. Only in the dating world is being the recipient or target of the term considered somewhat okay because in every Law & Order episode I’ve seen this is not the case. But it’s all context.

Here’s my personal biggest issue with the set up. I found those that choose to try to set me up don’t really use compatibility as a prerequisite. My experience has been “You’re black. He’s black. You  should have babies.”

Um, I need you to dig a little deeper and remember that I don’t fit nicely into a box. There are many things I look for in a companion—ability to laugh and to make me laugh, inner and outer strength, comfort with self, easy to talk to, etc—none of which have anything to do with outer appearance. But I won’t lie. It helps.

I remember a set up from a few years ago. The setter-upper was a yoga student who insisted that I meet her friend. She had been to a few of my classes and was convinced we would be a match. She described him as a great guy blah, blah, blah. She finally wore me down and I agreed to meet him for dinner with her chaperoning.

Yes, he was nice, but. And you know the “but.”  There was nothing there. No spark. No chemistry.

He sat across from me in the restaurant booth, and I couldn’t get past his really big eyeglasses. I’ve worn glasses since I was six, so I’m not hating on four eyes, but it was like he was hiding behind them, not in any cool, ironic sort of way. Every time I looked up, I only saw large lenses too big for his slim face.

Whether his intention was to hide or he just had some tragic fashion sense, I like to be able to see the person sitting across from me. Really see them. Part of that falls back on me and my perception, and the other part falls on the person’s willingness to be open and seen.  And let’s be blunt, I was not attracted to him. Yes, I just said outer appearance does not play a huge role; however, it does play a role. So here’s my question to all the setter-uppers, would you have sex with the person you’re trying to set me up with? Because if you wouldn’t, what makes you think I would?

Then there was the final set up I ever agreed to—the definitive last straw—at least for me (for now). I happily volunteer in many organizations and this particular year had dedicated my time to a civil learning and leadership group. After spending some time helping to research and do asset mapping for the not-for-profit we were assisting, one of the women in the group that I had been working closely with decided that she had the perfect man for me. Here’s where my southern roots kicking in—because, bless her heart, she meant well.

I’ll give her credit—he was good looking, with a muscular physique and he had a great head on his shoulders (even if he only talked about football… and I mean only). But I wouldn’t have been able to take him home to my family, even if he did talk more than just sports. I’ve lived in the south my whole life and really appreciate a southern gentleman’s accent. (Prime example—Matthew McConaughey. In “A Time To Kill.” Shirtless. Sweating. In the depths of Mississippi. Need I say more.)

However, I had to re-train my ears to understand the young man sitting at the table across from me, only talking sports… and who never bothered to ask if I was even interested.

My British educated mother would have not approved.

These are only some of the examples of my personal experience with the set up. I fully celebrate and stand it awe of all the couples that met on a successful set up (and applaud the setter-uppers—fate isn’t always one for cooperative behavior). In the end I feel no one person knows me better than I do and that the ultimate set up for me will not be initiated by a human being but by the highest forces of Love known.

When my uncle was dying of esophageal cancer, the hospice called my aunt when his breathing changed and moved toward what we know as the death rattle. When she arrived at his side, his breathing returned back to normal and they stayed in those final moments together. That’s what I’m holding out for—love that can bring you back from a death rattle.

Does it exist? Yes, I’ve witnessed it firsthand. It’s not a fairy tale. I recognize that I have to do my part. Love and life are not idle affairs. The set up that works for me will be one that I co-conspire in and speaks to the very depths of me. It has much less to do with objects or persons, and more to do with where I point my heart.

I choose to point it back in toward the most authentic parts of myself.


Dara Brown is a free-wheeling, yet often serious gal who began practicing yoga in the early years of college as a way to counter her gym workout crazed tendencies. Her practice has taught her to speak with more clarity, to listen with more than her ears and to have more patience with others (OK, still working on the last part). As a formerly licensed and certified Anusara yoga instructor, she’s shared her yoga practice with a wide audience in a variety of forums. In the end, she’s happy with her life as a Yoga instructor and public health educator who lives with a dominating, fuzzy cat and is learning to negotiate the dating world. Hang with or message Dara on Facebook: www.facebook.com/DaraBrownYoga


Editor: Anne Clendening

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