Scholastic Matchmakers: The Easiest Fund Raiser Of All Time

Part 6

The Glory Days and Raymond's Love Machine

Fall of 1995 finally arrived. I was back at Hopkins in good standing, ready for my last year as a college student. Josh, also, was in his last year at Yale. We bombarded 10,000 U.S. schools with our newly designed mailing. Hundreds of schools flocked to our service, because it was faster, cheaper, and offered better benefits than any other company with similar services.

The virtual "assembly line" that I designed worked perfectly. It may sound magical, but it really was magical. I barely had to do anything -- my computer automatically received the raw data, turned it into cooked output, and passed it on down the line. The subcontractors were doing all the work!

The 1995-1996 school year was Scholastic Matchmakers' best year ever, and was the best year of my life on top of that. The business was making more money than it ever had before, even though Josh and I were doing less work than we'd done the year before.

Josh started getting the media interested in our company. We were a "virtual corporation" running on a still relatively new Internet, and people were interested. Josh and I were both interviewed by Tom Petzinger of the Wall Street Journal, and Peter Behr of The Washington Post. The Post ended up sending a photographer to my dorm room and running a 2-page spread about us in the "Washington Business" supplement on February 12, 1996. Later, a company that writes high school textbooks picked up the article, and included a full-page description of our company in their latest edition of Holt Economics.

The day of the Washington Post article, a gentleman named Raymond called me. To this day, I have no idea how he tracked me down. "He-lloooo, my name is Ray-mond," he began, with a very peculiar tone, mildly reminiscent of Dustin Hoffman's Rain Man. "I read the article about you in the newspaper today, and I once wrote an article I think you would be quite interested in." he continued.

"What article?" I asked.

"Oh, really, I think I'd really rather show it to you," he said, still with his bizarre inflections. "May I send it to you?"

Against my better judgment, I gave him the address of my apartment in Baltimore. Several days later, I received in the mail a photocopied page of "Mercury Hour: The Astrologer's Astrological Magazine." It looked like a small, home-grown publication, printed on plain paper and seemingly the output of someone's 10-year-old word processor.

Contained in this issue was a fascinating article entitled "Raymond's Love Machine." Raymond believed in astrology. In his article, he suggested building a computer that would allow marriages be astrologically arranged. He proposed that surveys be given to everyone in a metropolitan area (eventually, the world) and fed into a computer. This computer would then use astrological charts to determine everyone's best matched marriage partner, and even the times and dates of important events in their future relationship. "It could not be stressed too much not to arrange a first meeting under a Void-of-Course-Moon," Raymond wrote in his article. "The time selected for the initial act of intercourse would have to be carefully selected as well, to say nothing of the timing of marriage."

At the top of the photocopied page, Raymond wrote: "Best of luck and Karmic Success, and I look forward to speaking with you soon." I suppose he wanted me to help him turn his dream into reality. Sorry, Raymond.

Next: The Best Laid Plans

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Last updated: 3 May 1999