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MATCHMAKER URGES SINGLES TO LOVE THE POSSIBLE

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If you've seen the movie "Crossing Delancey," you've seen Milton Fisher. Not the real Milton Fisher, of course. The real one is a lawyer and an investment banker. He wears the kind of fedora you generally only see these days in photos of Harry Truman.

But Milton Fisher is also a matchmaker, in some ways quite like the confident, overbearing matchmaker in "Crossing De-lancey," except that in the movie the matchmaker is an aging peroxide blonde named Hannah Mandelbaum.Hannah the Matchmaker has a match for everyone, including a 34-year-old bookstore manager named Isabelle, played by Amy Irving. The man she has picked out for Izzy is a pickle store owner named Sam. Izzy snubs Sam, only to discover by the end of the movie that love isn't necessarily about glitz or social status or even chemistry.

Just like Hannah Mandelbaum, Milton Fisher is full of no-nonsense advice. Stop wasting time trying to find your "one and only," he says. Stop chasing after fantasies and learn to "love the possible." That's the gist of his book, "Haven't You Been Single Long Enough?" Whiners need not apply.

This is the kind of book mothers will probably rush out to buy for their single daughters and sons who are still holding out for that perfect someone.

"There are literally thousands of people out there you can be happily married to," says Fisher, who calls himself a "marriage activist." Waiting around for the perfect spouse to show up, he says, "is like waiting at the train station for your plane to land."

Fisher stopped by the Deseret News while he was in town on business. He lives in Connecticut, but he has lots of friends in Salt Lake City, he says.

"I've been responsible for 29 marriages," Fisher says. Then he pauses and adds the punchline. "I've had two attempted strangulations and one stabbing with a plastic fork, but there's never been a divorce."

Strangulations and plastic fork incidents to the contrary, what happens in a marriage, says Fisher, is that you end up falling in love with the person you marry, even if you weren't head-over-heels in love in the first place.

"What really happens is that you go through experiences together and suddenly you realize: `This person knows me and cares for me more than anyone else in the world.' "

Love-at-first-sight is basically just a myth, he says, although it does happen occasionally. "But anyone who's waiting for it has about as much chance of winning the lottery."

Fisher had his first taste of matchmaking in college when he told a shy friend that there was a girl in his English class who wanted to meet him. Actually it was all a big lie, but when the friend said "Great," Fisher had to go back to his English class and pick a girl that might fit the bill. They're still married, he says.

He won't say exactly when that incident happened. Carol, his wife, won't let him divulge his age. Carol is Fisher's second wife, whom he met after he'd been a widower for about a year.

In Fisher's world, things work out right for just about everybody. It's easy to meet people, everybody has a long list of potential husbands, and if you woo someone well enough they'll eventually come to love you.

It all sounds too good to be true, and in some ways Fisher is a little out of touch. But mostly it all comes back to that belief that marriage is the perfect state and love is about acceptance.

So what if a man is short and pudgy. So what if a woman has fat ankles and gray hair. People who want to get married learn to see beyond appearances. They give peo-ple a second chance. And a third.

The Deseret News welcomes comments from readers on this topic or others pertinent to the Single-minded column. Please address letters to Single-minded, c/o Marianne Funk, Deseret News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, UT 84110; or contact her or the writer of the column at 237-2100.