The ad in the yellow pages features a photo of a beaming, grandmotherly Zelda Fischer. But Gentlepeople, the dating service founded by Fischer ten years ago, bears little resemblance to the old village matchmakers of shtetl lore.
Gentlepeople has a more corporate style, with four staff members and fees ranging up to several thousand dollars.
"Lots of people will use the world yente, which we hate here," says Annette Ashin, the vice-president. The Yiddish word has nagging connotations, says Astin. "It's not a flattering word."
Still, Gentlepeople upholds the values of yesteryear. Smoking and frequent drinking are taboo among members, and "we don't accept anyone who's hunter," says Ashin.
"We tend to get people who feel themselves to be gentle people--whose goals or values are similar to ours," she says.
Gentlepeople takes a nurturing attitude towards its members, people who are having difficulty reaching the finish line in this dating game we call life.
Members are sent on dates, taken to restaurants, marshaled on trips to the Hasty Pudding Show. "We're not a large organization by any means," says Ashin. "It's not like McDonalds."
Gentlepeople is one of 30 dating services in the Boston area, but it is unusual in its emphasis on permanent relationships. Swingers need not apply: Like a good village matchmaker, Gentlepeople gently pushes its members toward the altar.
"We don't encourage people to live together before marriage," says Ashin. "Quite often, that indicates a kind of ambivalence about the relationship."
In daily contact with the more intimate aspects of the human psyche, matchmakers occasionally wax sociological.
"There's a part of this that's a little disturbing in terms of equality," says Ashin. "Men are rarely willing to relocate for a relationship, but women usually are."