Monday, February 18, 2008

What's in a Name?

Madison Avenue gurus can tell you that it doesn't matter how much money you throw at some products because the public is going to hate them no matter what. Mostly, these gurus tell you, it's because of some small, fixable problem, but no one sees it until it's too late.

Shadchanim are one of those Madison Avenue disasters, not because anything is wrong with the product, but because the name is wrong, all wrong. People look at the word "shadchan" and immediately jump from there to wedding registries and smorgasbords and happily ever after. People think "shadchan" and they also immediately think "results." And when the product doesn't deliver the expected result, we're oh so unhappy with the product.

I've decided to stop being a shadchan. I no sooner get the word out of my mouth then I can feel the antagonism rolling in over the phone line. I've been mulling over what new name to give myself. I was kind of leaning towards "relationship facilitator," but that still promised more then a shadchan can necessarily deliver. "Matrimonial developer" also promises too much. I finally settled on "introductory pre-life-style event promoter." It's the perfect Madison Avenue name: it rolls off the tongue with importance and says absolutely nothing about the product. But it does have one important aspect that is going to make life easier for me, lots easier. It says absolutely nothing about marriage.

Shadchanim don't make marriages: God does. Shadchanim are people with phone books that have some numbers in them for single people. Sometimes the shadchan--excuse me, the promoter--looks at two numbers and says "I think they should meet." Beyond that the promoter has no control, none whatsoever, over what will actually happen when those two singles get together. The promoter's job should be over as soon as Male X calls Female Y. But it isn't.

Singles, who look at dating as a vast theatrical production, have annointed the promoter as director of production. They expect the promoter to be there from "Curtain going up" to the final bow. "Actors" are notorious for being hard to handle, and the promoter is expected to have an unlimited supply of kid gloves. Should the production close before opening night, no one is going to blame the actors, or the lighting crew or the musicians or the horde of drama coaches every actor has in tow. Nope, everyone, but everyone, is going to blame the director.

But I'm not a director--read the business card. I'm in PR--I'm a promoter. My job is to get you to the audition; what you do there is strictly up to you and your fellow actors. I'm not promising you a job, just a chance.

The phone rings as I am thinking these thoughts. The voice asks "Is this the shadchan?" You can hear the belligerence building in intensity. I gently say "No it isn't" and hang up the phone. I'm feeling better by the minute. Shakespeare was oh so right when he asked "What's in a name?"

8 comments:

Jake said...

It doesn't qualify as a full rant but some kvetching is better then none I suppose. Would write more but there is this promoter who I've been trying to reach for days who seems to be avoiding me and I've got to go and talk to her answering machine again.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the rest of that quote that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet? So a shadchan by any other name is still a shadchan and lots of people don't think they smell that sweet.

ProfK said...

I will not rant, I will not rant, I will not rant!!!!!!! Thank you anonymous. I was wondering which of my students would rain on my Monday but now I don't have to worry. Always a great way to start off a day to know you don't smell so sweet.

Bas~Melech said...

"introductory pre-life-style event promoter" LOL, I like your style.

justlooking said...

Can just see my family if I tell them I don't need any shadchanim because I'm seeing a "introductory pre-life-style event promoter." At least one of them is going to be sure I have a terrible disease, another one will probably think I'm seeing a shrink and my father will probably ask me if my medical insurance covers the expense. I'm so tempted to try it just to see their faces.

Avi said...

I don't think I could say the new name with a straight face. Can just see me trying to introduce you to a friend at a vort. I want you to meet my introductory pre-life-style event promoter is a whole lot of mouthful.

LAandlovingit said...

Come on out to LA. The new title would fit in just perfectly with the Cali lifestyle. We understand promotion just perfectly. Can see the conversation clearly. "Can your son take a meeting?" "Have your people call my people." "A lunch meeting?" "Make that dinner instead." No shidduch terminology needed.

Penina said...

I volunteer in shidduchim like you do and I also hate the name shadchan. Going to bring this new title up at our next shidduch circle meeting. We all could use a good laugh.