In August 2011, I was trying on a dress in a Brooklyn boutique when my phone buzzed to notify me that my mom had emailed. Expecting the usual check-in -- how was my weekend going, and here's a photo of the new puppy -- I instead read:
"I am attaching a copy of a letter I have written to Mayor Cory Booker suggesting that he meet Adina.*"
Adina is a friend from college. She's beautiful and smart and was, as far as my mom knew, still as single as the Mayor. For years, my mom had wanted set her up with him. My southern mother has never met Mayor Booker. She's not even a Democrat. But that was irrelevant, as she's always believed -- and counseled me -- that love trumps politics. Her email continued:
"Of course, he might not be good enough. Who knows what his personal life is like. To whom do you think I should send it?"
I sat down on the fitting room bench, opened the attachment, and read:
"Dear Mayor Booker,
I hope you are well and still enjoying your challenging job as Mayor of Newark. I am sure that it is a city with great potential that needed an extraordinary leader."
Following a few more introductory remarks, the letter introduced Adina by extolling her merits:
"You really should meet Adina Evans. She is quite brilliant, very beautiful -- tall, graceful, and dignified, artistically talented, and consciously principled. She is a gifted writer and has a captivating smile. Although she is reserved (and will probably never again speak to me if she ever discovers I have written this letter) and morally above reproach, she is a delight and joy to know."
After encouraging him to google my friend, she closed with a warning:
"Even if you pass on this opportunity to meet Adina, I wish you well. In any case, I hope you will NOT -- under any circumstance -- mention that I have made this effort. That will be the "kiss of death" for your chances with her."
When I called my mom to ask if she was serious, she confessed that she'd already emailed it. She found the address on the City of Newark's website.
"Do you think I should send a hard copy, too?" She was concerned that interns with crushes on the Mayor would delete it with malicious intent. We agreed that if they were set on destroying communication from romantic competitors, they would likely tear up snail mail, as well.
Then we waited.
Over the next several months, our phone conversations often began with her asking, "Has Adina heard from Cory Booker, yet?" (We always said "Cory Booker" since "Cory" felt too familiar.)
"I haven't heard anything," I'd say. In fact, Adina and I had largely lost touch, but I assumed I would hear from her if Cory Booker asked her out. That seemed like a big deal.
In the meantime, speculation over Mr. Booker's sexuality grew as he remained, month after month, seemingly single. The Internet decided he must be gay and was delighted at the scandalous idea. (This was before he eventually came out as utterly unfazed by the chatter, welcoming it because it challenged people's prejudices, and going so far to say, "I hope you are not voting for me because you are making the presumption that I'm straight.")
A year passed, I didn't see or talk to Adina very much. Finally, we met for dinner one night near the very boutique where I'd first reviewed the letter (that had already been sent). Over dessert, I summoned the courage to ask if anyone from the Mayor's office had ever contacted her. She looked at me like I was nuts. Then, because she knows my mom -- and knows my mom wants her to date Cory Booker -- her eyes got wide.
"Why?" she asked nervously.
"My mom wrote him a letter," I told her. She put her head in her hands.
"Oh my god," she said.
"I thought it was a great idea," I said then back-pedaled, "I'm sure he never got the email. It was just to the general office address..."
The check came, and the question remains. Either way, if the latest reports are true, it appears he's chosen to lead his love life without my mom's help.
His loss, she'd say. When I texted her the news that he's dating someone, she wrote back: "Well, if it's not Adina, he's a dummy."
*Adina is not her name, but it's close-ish.