Little did I know that a guy like me being single is practically a crime against society. So far, my eternal eligibility really hasn’t been a problem for me. Not everyone shares that view. A friend decided that she would try to right this terrible wrong. I’ve known her for a few years. She lives in Minneapolis and works for a certain unnamed company that makes medical devices. It’s a company I have become very familiar with over the past few years. When I go to the company’s headquarters, a visit with her is always on my agenda.

In an e-mail awhile ago, she asked me if I would be interested in meeting a friend of hers. She doesn’t normally set up friends, but she felt we would be a good match. Her friend was someone she had met at jury duty. The two of them were in the jury pool together and seemed to hit it off. They got along so well that they stayed in touch after their job as first-rate citizens was finished.

In her e-mail, my friend wanted to know if I would be interested in meeting this friend of hers who had been lamenting the fact that she never seemed to find any single, desirable men. I’ll call her The Candidate. My friend gave me some background information on The Candidate. She was described as “just a hoot!” C’mon, how can you not like someone who is just a hoot? It all seemed to be okay, so I thought, why not? As my friend listed all the pluses (professional, intelligent, with an advanced degree, works in Minneapolis, divorced, with no kids), she got to one that the Chairman of my Spousal Selection Committee felt was the clincher: The Candidate’s father was a John Deere dealer!

At that point, it was becoming harder and harder for me to see the downside here. (I’ll be honest, I’m reasonably shallow.) Then some details came out that caught my attention, big-time. It was the town in Minnesota where The Candidate grew up, as well as the city where her grandmother grew up. The fact that her grandmother was originally from Decorah made me curious. Who knows, maybe I already know members of her extended family. Perhaps I’ve sold them hay! That would make her seem like less of a stranger, I figured.

My friend thought that The Candidate and I would be a great combination. We shared common traits, common values, common interests. And, yeah, as soon as I found out where her hometown was, I went to www.machinefinder.com and discovered that we probably also shared common DNA! If the name on the Deere dealership located at that zip code wasn’t the name I thought it was, I was going to be amazed. It was more than a little familiar.

I sent my friend an e-mail and asked if The Candidate’s father’s name happened to be what I suspected it was and if her grandmother’s name was also what I suspected. Correct on both counts. $#@%^&! The Candidate’s grandmother and my grandmother were SISTERS!!! Of all the people in a huge metropolis like Minneapolis that my friend could randomly meet at jury duty, get to know, and try to set up with another supposedly random person like me, she picked my third-cousin!!!

It took less than 24 hours to confirm that, yes, in fact, Jeff Ryan does know everybody! Who needs Six Degrees of Separation? I don’t want to get all Bill Cullen or Jim Lange on you here, but I can Name That Connection in only two!

My Chairman’s immediate response was something to the effect of, “Yeah, but you’re only THIRD-cousins! In southern Iowa, that kinda stuff happens all the time. It’s not a problem!”

The Candidate and her extended family got quite a kick out of the whole thing. My friend, on the other hand, was embarrassed. Her response was, “OK, so my days of matching friends up are DONE DONE DONE!”

Hey, it’s the thought that counts. On my next trip to Minneapolis, we’re all planning to go out to dinner together. It will be somewhere between a date and a family reunion.

Guy No. 2