Groom cake topper(Photo: Levi Brown)

I knew exactly whom I was supposed to be with, and it was not this stranger. My soul mate was worldly, creative, successful, plugged in—just like me, except with more self-confidence. He’d mesh flawlessly with my stylish urban life of dinners, friends, weekends seeing art exhibits and indie bands. I didn’t care about wealthy or powerful. I cared about cool. And this Kevin person my friend was forcing me to meet was clearly uncool. He lived two hours away; he didn’t have a remarkable job or a byline or a portfolio. Forget it.

On the other hand, I was getting older, and Perfect Soul Mate had yet to materialize. The cool guys I dated weren’t turning out so well, and one particularly bad breakup spurred me into action. With the help of the vast world of online matchmaking (and several supportive friends on speed-dial), I bulk-dated. It was, by and large, a great experience. I met a lot of nice guys who were completely uncool but—and this was new for me—really very happy to spend their weekends with me. That Perfect Soul Mate began to get a little fuzzy around the edges—but I held out hope.

So when one amateur-matchmaker friend said she had a setup for me and she was throwing a New Year’s Eve potluck expressly to make the connection, I balked. “I’m dated out,” I said. “I don’t want to spend New Year’s on a blind date. Some of my girlfriends are going to a nightclub. I’d rather do that.”

“Okay.” Her voice over the phone was calm, though I have to think she was stabbing a fork into my picture. “If that’s how you feel.”

The email she sent a few minutes later was gentle but insistent. “I know you’re tired of the meet-and-greet,” she wrote, “but I am setting you up with a single, straight, available man who likes to cook, make furniture, and garden, and has two dogs. And you’re telling me you’d rather go out and do tequila shots.”