THE eternal quest to find a soulmate often leads to well-meaning friends and family setting up the dreaded blind date.
While these dates may be reasonably pleasant - with light conversation, nervous giggles and polite questioning - invariably the awkward moment arrives when one person or the other has to break the news that there probably won't be a second date and they won't be calling again.
Real life is littered with stories of totally mismatched couples in matchmaking hell.
And any straw poll no doubt will reveal situations requiring that "emergency", pre-planned phone call from a friend 15 minutes into the date, just in case an easy "out" is needed.
One office colleague even revealed the slapstick comedy routine she found herself in after a blind date had gone terribly pear-shaped.
She literally escaped by squeezing herself through a tiny restaurant bathroom window, convinced the strange man sitting opposite her in the candlelight wasn't worth sitting through dinner for.
While that seems an extreme measure to take, many believe life really is too short to spend time with Mr or Mrs Wrong when the real deal could be waiting around the corner.
Still, these things can't be rushed either.
I will never forget my mother warning me about blind dates after she was set up when she was in her late teens by some girlfriends with good intentions.
Off she went to the restaurant to meet the young man and, during a lovely dinner, the conversation flowed easily.
As they shared dessert, talk turned to family.
Then they realised dessert wasn't all they shared.
Turned out they also shared family members.
Once they established they were distant cousins, they quickly decided that while a second date was out of the question, he was more than welcome to come to the family Christmas party.
But every once in a while, we do have the fairytale ending.
In 2005, Kaz Allwood was living in Kawana when she found herself on a blind date that led to the best possible outcome.
The wheels were set in motion when a Matchbox 20 song came on the radio while she was at a work conference with a colleague.
The colleague told Kaz that he had a friend who looked just like the lead singer of the band, Rob Thomas, and she was cheeky enough to ask for an introduction.
Armed with a phone number and a determination to throw caution to the wind, she called the Rob Thomas look-alike, whose name was Jason Both.
Over the course of two weeks, they found they really hit it off.
As Jason was living in Brisbane, he drove to the Sunshine Coast to meet Kaz in person and go on their first date.
He ended up staying for the whole weekend.
"When we first saw each other, it was like we had already met. We were just so familiar," Kaz said.
And Kaz really did find her Prince Charming that weekend, with the blind date eventually leading to the fairytale ending: they have been married for four years.
So while the blind date remains a dilemma for the lonely hearts of the world and matchmakers continue to seek out prospective wives and husbands for their singleton friends, take heart that, occasionally, love conquers all.
Maybe the next time Aunty Ethel tells you about that lovely young man or woman who takes the groceries to her car at the supermarket or helps her with her tax return or comes to fix her leaky tap, keep an open mind and an open heart.
Just don't forget to check their ancestry.
CELEBRITY BLIND DATES
The union of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston started off as a blind date, set up by their agents in 1998. They married in 2000, and divorced four years later.
Singer Paula Abdul met sportswear designer Brad Beckerman on a blind date.They married in 1996 in front of guests including Rod Stewart and Magic Johnson. They divorced in 1998.
After Bert Newton interviewed Olympic swimmer Matt Welsh, he decided to set him up on a blind date with his daughter Lauren. The date was a success and Matt and Lauren married in 2006.
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