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Millionaire Matchmaker, My Life, and Divorce

Like Alice through the looking glass, so began my sojourn into the world of reality television...
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Like Alice through the looking glass, so began my sojourn into the world of reality television--the Millionaire Matchmaker being the mirror melting in front of me. If you are unfamiliar with the hit reality show on Bravo, the Millionaire Matchmaker, allow me to run it down for you. Basically, Patti Stanger, a third generation matchmaker, counsels two persons per episode, the millionaires, on how to find love. Along the way, the viewers are treated to a delight of social faux pas, awkward silences, and even a little sexual innuendo (more on that later). The viewers get to watch the courtship of the millionaires and their selected dates, followed by a recap with Ms. Stanger, who, from time-to-time, throws the millionaire out of the matchmaking service for failing to abide by her advice. Now, onward through the looking glass.

So it was that I, a cynical divorce attorney, decided to seek the wise counsel of Ms. Stanger. Lo and behold, I was chosen to appear on the Millionaire Matchmaker. A film crew was dispatched to my office to videotape my innermost thoughts on the subject of life, love, career, education, women, hobbies, habits, pet peeves, and, oh yeah, s-e-x.

Fast forward a month to my first meeting with the master matchmaker herself. As I sat in
the waiting room of the Millionaire's Club in midtown Manhattan on a sticky summer day, I reflected back on what brought me here. For years, I have been a divorce specialist, helping unhappy spouses break free from the bonds of marriage--filing motions for child support, child custody, spousal support, dividing assets, finding hidden income, determining net worth, alleging adultery, abandonment, cruel and inhuman treatment--all in an effort to break apart a marriage. All of this going through my mind as I sat there awaiting my initial meeting with a woman known for putting people together. We were opposites, the Millionaire Matchmaker and the Millionaire Match-breaker. Where would it all go--how would it end?

Upon entering the office from the waiting room, I was met by Patti's executive team, the raven-and-plum-haired Rachel Federoff, Vice President of Matching, and her fiancé, the mohawked Destin Pfaff, Chief Operating Officer of the Millionaire's Club. The greeted me with smiles and accompanied me over to the desk of Patti Stanger. After we exchanged pleasantries, it was down to business. Patti began to tell me what my downfall was with women--that I was a 'player'--always looking to satisfy my physical needs rather than my emotional needs. She informed me that I chose short-term physical relationships over long-term emotional connections. After she dispensed this information, I wholeheartedly agreed with her. Yes, I did choose physical over emotional but, could you blame me? I have had clients from all walks of life, from blue-collar to white-collar to celebrities, with one thing in common: they could not maintain a long-term emotional connection with someone. Sure, they could maintain it for a year, ten years, even forty years but, in the end, it was a losing battle. They were all filing for divorce and moving on. Was I really to blame for trying to avoid the pitfalls of what I see on a day-to-day basis? I decided that the romantic in me had to fight for survival against the cynic --I decided to listen to Patti's advice and jump feet first into the process.

At the mixer where I was to choose my potential match to take on a date, I was able to meet and talk to approximately twenty women. In the whirlwind of the next couple of hours, I was able to talk with women of varied backgrounds, interests, ethnicities, and desires. After much deliberation, I chose Keren, an Israeli woman who was idyllic, beauty, brains, and a sarcastic wit to keep me on my toes. Alas, the date was set.

On the limo ride over to pick up Keren, I remembered the admonitions given me by Patti: "no sex talk", "no taking off your shirt", and "get to know her on a deeper level." Well, I knew the second rule was going to go out the window as we were scheduled to enjoy a relaxing afternoon at the SETAI spa in the Wall Street area of Manhattan. First, the Roman whirlpool--a marble creation of warm water with rose petals floating delicately on the surface. Upon entering the whirlpool, Keren remarked that wearing our respective bathing suits on a first date was "perverted"--I merely thought it would be a relaxing way to begin a date. So, here I was starting off on the wrong foot, perhaps wrong feet. However, once we immersed ourselves in the water, we began to talk about our lives and get to know one another better. Did I enjoy seeing my date in a bikini--yes, does that make me a sexist?--hardly, I think it makes me human! And, nobody ever said that you have to take physical attraction out of the equation. After all, is it not the initial spark that causes two people to approach one another in a romantic way in the first place? No matter how hard we all try, there has to be a physical spark. Moments after we adjourned to our separate dressing rooms, we emerged ready for dinner.

Dinner was to be served at Capsuoto Freres, a French restaurant in Tribeca. Upon our arrival, we were seated at James Gandolfini's favorite table and resumed getting to know one another. Were their sparks of romance? Perhaps not. But still, I was enjoying the company of Keren. As dinner finished, Keren offered to trade dance lessons with me--she would show me some salsa dance moves if I showed her my 1980's robot dance (still way underrated in my book). It was a deal! I am not sure my two left feet have recovered from the salsa lesson but we both laughed and that is what counts. Laughter is the cure for all that ails, especially to break the normal tensions of a first date. As the date ended and I bid adieu to Keren, I realized that not discussing sex or attempting to get physical before emotional was good advice from Patti--advice that to this day I still attempt to adhere to.

Walking back into Patti's office the next day to discuss the date with her, she beamed proudly to find out that Keren and I got along famously and that we were planning on a second date. However, that second date was never to be as Keren went on a tour with her dance company and began making plans to reunite with her family by moving back home to Israel. Alas, I am still single.

However, as I sit here writing this post, a few things have happened in my life that I would like to clear up. In the weeks that have passed since the airing of my episode, I have received countless phone calls and e-mails about my appearance from colleagues, clients, and strangers alike. Basically, they asked how I could have "allowed" myself to appear on a reality show and have the show portray me as a, as the kids like to say, "player", meaning someone who likes to date and never settle down. Okay, okay, I will admit that I do come across as such on the show and I take full responsibility for things I said and how I acted. However, I think that, until each one of us meets that "special someone" we want to settle down with in life and grow old with (well, Botox aside), we are all "players." Each of us navigates the dating world-- whether we are straight, gay, or bi-sexual. It is tough enough to meet someone without the spectre of the Millionaire Matchmaker hanging over one's head. So how does this relate to the world of divorce? Well, what is a divorce other than the realization that you did not meet your "special someone" yet? Whether the marital breakdown is caused by money, abuse, philosophical differences, in-laws, or one of the other million-and-one reasons, it ultimately means that the person you married (or entered into a civil union with) was not your ultimate "special someone."

Perhaps the divorce world has not robbed me of all vestiges of romance, but I believe that, even though I see the hardships of marriages on a daily basis, whether in the celebrity world or the "real world", that love does exist. If that means I will be termed a "player" because I refuse to settle for less than love, then I will proudly wear that moniker. Thank you for listening, and I really do welcome all of your comments (and criticisms).

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