Meet Mr. Match…

Chapter 1:  LOVE = MATH

MAX

I was twenty-one when I solved the equation for love.

Maybe that sounds nuts, but the reality is that I’m a fucking mathematical prodigy. It’s not a claim, or an arrogant assertion of hubris. If I was going to make an arrogant statement, I’d tell you how I was recruited to play on the South Bay Sharks as striker after my sophomore year at college. I’d tell you about my sick mansion, my three cars, or about the fact that I’ve already saved enough at the age of twenty-six that no one in my family will ever have to work again.

But I’m not an arrogant prick. Just a genius.

And like I said, I solved the equation for love at twenty-four.

But let me back up a bit.

When I was a kid I watched my mom’s heartbreak when we lost my dad. I was eight, so maybe I didn’t get all the nuances of their love, of what exactly she was grieving when he was gone. I knew I missed a million things—things I could name, and things I couldn’t. I missed piggyback rides and wrestling, kicking the ball around the yard and the patient way my dad would explain the rules of soccer to me as we watched World Cup games. I missed the way he’d get me up out of bed in the middle of the night so we could sit side by side on the couch and cheer for Manchester United—something my mom really never understood.

But when Dad died, I realized I missed a lot more than that. I also missed the security and comfort of knowing he was there, that his big bearlike presence was in our house. I missed his easy laugh, the fact that no one else I knew appreciated a good fart joke like he did, and the way he always said yes when I asked if we could play tic tac toe.

It was hard losing your best buddy, your role model and your protector suddenly at eight.

But as I got a little older, I saw that it was maybe harder losing your soul mate.

Mom was great—she picked up the slack where she could and made sure my little sister and I never lacked for anything. She found me fantastic coaches and even got up in the middle of the night a few times to watch soccer with me as I got older. She nurtured my talents and hired private math tutors when I got too far ahead of what our local schools could offer to encourage my intellect. She helped my sister and I grow up feeling loved and cared for, even without our dad.

But she’d lost something I was too young to define, and as I grew, we began to talk about what exactly had made their love great.

“It’s chemistry and luck,” Mom would say. “But it’s not rocket science. Parts of you just fit with parts of the person you love. And if it’s right, things just snap into place. It’s not perfect, but it’s close enough. The hardest part is finding that person who fits.”

We didn’t talk about it a lot when I was young, but as I got older, I became fascinated with the way two people might fit together, and Mom suggested that we all started out just slightly incomplete to begin with. Not so much that we couldn’t live on our own, but just lacking enough that when we found that thing we’d been missing, life turned into a whole other kind of adventure.

“There’s not just one fit, I don’t think,” she would say. “There are probably a few different people who might be right for each of us. Maybe more. But it’s the right combination of elements—”

“Like an equation,” I’d suggested at twelve. “Where both sides need to be balanced.”

“Just like that, Max,” she’d agreed as we sat at our favorite diner with milkshakes.

“Oh my God, can we have one family outing that doesn’t turn into a math lesson?” Cat, my sister wasn’t as fond of math as I was.

But math was a comfort to me—it made sense. And the more I talked to Mom about love—something everyone seemed to regard as mystical and fated, the more I became convinced that it was just another equation, one I could solve.

And as an adult, I started working on it, testing different theories and algorithms, looking for the one that worked.

My sister Cat was a willing participant in the tests, and this is her story. And mine.

This is the story of how I became Mr. Match.

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