Sincerely Sparkling

You know all those guys who say they want a girl with a “sparkling personality”? I’ve always wondered what that meant. Okay, maybe I haven’t.  While I can’t define it exactly, I know it when I see it. For example, I know I don’t sparkle, twinkle, or coruscate in any way. Whereas the classmate who got engaged twice within six months of high school graduation kind of did. And I’m nothing like her. (Heck, I haven’t gotten engaged once in seven years!)  So my SOP has always been to chuck those “sparkling personality” profiles as non-starters.

Shadchan: Why don’t you want to go out with him?

Me: He’s looking for a sparkler. I’m more a roman candle.

Well, I was at the Shabbos table of a couple, and The Wife was explaining how she knew that her Husband was The One for her. “I wanted a guy with fire in his eyes!” she gushed. “That enthusiasm! And he had it.”

“She just sparkled,” Husband gazed back adoringly. “She was what I was always looking for.”

My friend and companion leaned over the chulent and whispered in my ear, “Aren’t they such a cute couple?”

“Yes,” I whispered back. “But should it change it any that they’re grandparents?!”

“No!” she hissed. “They’re still an adorable couple.”

I suppose they were both still sparkling and flaming together. Whatever.

So I’m moving on to another word. In my old age, I’ve seen a large number of shidduch profiles. And do you know what every single guy puts on his “looking for” list? “Kind” or “caring” and “sincere.” Always sincere. What the heck does that mean? Sincere about what? Who isn’t sincere, aside from a sociopath? Even those disgustingly kind people who are nice to you only because they think you’re desperately lonely are, at least, sincere in their intentions. (Which are based on ameliorating their feelings more than yours, but hey, they really and sincerely mean well.) So can someone please describe to me an insincere woman? Or sincere one. Either will do.

Food Blogging for Dates

A while ago I made an abortive attempt at being a little bit techbloggy. Today, inspired by commenter overtimecook (and with straight-up idea plagiarism from Apple), I present a visual shidduch resume. And yes, I used resume, because the format is more job oriented than usual.

For the record, I totally want to post pictures of my food all the time. After all, if I put in the time and make something pretty, it seems a waste to stare at it for a couple of seconds and then dig in. At the very least, someone ought to make admiring noises at me, don’t you think? But alas, I haven’t got a food blog. Even more alas, I haven’t got a camera – all photos taken with my webcam while balancing a laptop at an awkward angle and trying to use the last angles of the sun through the window instead of flash. I know that if I had a high-resolution DSLR I could make quinoa look as scrumptious as it is.Until then, I’m stuck with food that looks better than I can show.

First up, spinach salad with heirloom tomatoes shipped all the way from my parents’ garden in NYC. I think spinach is my favorite vegetable – I like it every which way, except full-grown raw. Do I still have all your attention, gentlemen? If not, that’s fine. I don’t think I could live with a guy who wasn’t open-minded on the subject of spinach. It’s just too important to me.

Appetizer - spinach salad

Next up, as a side, we have the grilled carrots. Odd thing – I don’t much enjoy raw carrots in any form except shredded in a salad. But I like them every other way–grilled, fried, and especially juiced. Ah… cool fresh carrot juice. I’m thirsty just thinking about it. Okay, to give credit where it’s due, Relarela brought these. But I have made carrots that look very similar.

Now for the Salmon-Ginger fingers with the Soy-Lime dipping sauce. I think these would be better as an hors d’oeuvres, but all my guests guzzle them down as a main.

I always get a recipe request for this one, but the photo is awful. Still, presenting: lemon couscous. Inside: sliced and toasted almonds, zest from a lemon (naked lemon is then grilled and tossed in), capers, and sage. You know you want some.

And for dessert we have rhubarb pie (miniaturized for the single female with occasional guests). Finger lickin’ good.

And that concludes tonight’s dinner. Anyone still with me? If not, tomorrow is steak and sweet potato fries.

Just kidding!

There are Strange People Floating Around Out There

Way back when I was once privy to an email sent by a would-be shadchan to a would-be suitor regarding me. The descriptions of me were surprisingly on target, considering that the shadchan hardly knew me. But how did she manage to get my age so wrong?

I read the email again and then again and then something clicked. I opened my official shidduch dossier file. And bingo! There was the identical flattering description of me, along with the erroneous age. I hadn’t updated the detested document in two years.

I gritted my teeth and made some changes, including replacing age with birthday. This, I hoped, would prevent my having to look at it again for another two years.

Which is why I wasn’t nearly as appalled as PNN about the age discrepancy he found on a recent profile. It ain’t so bad, bro. Honestly. It’s just the age.

Now, if you want weird discrepancies in information, check out the one Princess Lea got. It was for a guy she’d already been out with several years ago. That wasn’t the odd part. The strange part was that in the intervening years he’d become younger, handsomer, and taller.

Okay now we’re getting weird.

Hide Your Shidduch Profiles in Shame

What is the purpose of a shidduch profile?

I would say to

1 – Convey the most germane information about its subject for matchmaking purposes and

2 – Intrigue potential matches enough that they want to date the subject.

Chas McFeely is a 40-year-old single guy who has reinvented the shidduch system in an effort to marry himself off.  To that end, he’s created an online profile and recruited his entire network of family and friends in trying to set him up. He’s even offering shadchanus!

The impressive thing about McFeely’s shidduch profile is that, unlike most of the utilitarian word documents that float around the shidduch system, his actually does that. With ten photos, eight of them lightly captioned, he conveys a pretty well-rounded image of his personality, lifestyle, sense of humor, and general appearance. Moreover, it leaves you wondering, “Do I know any music-loving, Scrabble-playing women on the west coast?”  Unlike most of the profiles I read, which leave me wondering, “If he sounds the same as the last six guys I’ve gone out with, is that good or bad?”

I think I’m going to become a proponent of interesting shidduch profiles. Hey, a cartoon profile got Stupid Inventor matched up.

I reformatted my own profile a few months ago and have been noting responses with a sociologist’s eye. Out of the dozen or so people I know it’s been sent to
- Three looked askance.

Of those three,

- One refused to use it.

- Two said, “Well I guess it weeds them out early on.”

In addition,

- Nine spontaneously and without prompting sent their compliments and said it gave them a better idea of who I am.

Of these nine,

- Four said it made them more certain than before that I’d hit it off with their nephew/brother/cousin/son/friend.

- Another four didn’t have anyone specific in mind (they had just vaguely offered to set me up), but actually called me back to discuss “what I’m looking for.”

So, thus far, I’d say jazzing up a profile is mostly a good idea.

Moreover, if a particular shadchan thinks it’ll freak out the Suggestion, (s)he won’t pass it on. A friend of mine, when asked to attach a photograph of herself to her profile, sent the best and most recent photo she had. It was at the zoo, and she had a giant python around her neck. It was only after their engagement that she and her fiancée found out that his mother had suppressed the photo.

So, do you need to spend a thousand dollars filling a website with professional photos of yourself wearing everything from a suit to tennis whites?  Probably not. But the McFeely comparison test is, when people finish reading your dossier, do they care about you at all?

Hat Tip to Cubic Zirconium for sending me the link.

Related posts:

Shidduch DVDs?

Me Magazine

Let’s Hear it for Optimism

We heart Good4.

The young lass returned from seminary excited and eager to build her BNB. So far she’s only been turned down as too fresh out of sem. She frowns. I snicker. We’re all waiting for her to land.

Still, there’s nothing like a fresh face to bring optimism and joy to an enterprise growing dull with familiarity. She intends to marry the first guy she dates, which is to say, she intends the first guy she dates to be the right guy to marry. Or, the way she puts it, “I want to go out with my husband already!”

“You mean you want a date?”

“No, I don’t want to date. Dating is yucky. I want to meet my husband.”

“How do you know what dating is like?”

Incredulous stare.

“Okay fine. But when you say it like that it sounds like you’re anticipating an arranged marriage.”

Then there was the time the Pater pointed out that she had put her age down on her shidduch profile. “You’ll have to update it every year if you leave it like that. Change it to your birth-year.”

Good4 considered this idea briefly and then discarded it. “Nah, I won’t be needing this for that long.”

We can hope and pray.

The MF as a Reference

So, Good4 is working up her shidduch profile, in specific the list of references at the bottom. The Mater wants to narrow down the list so she chucks out one on the basis that she’s single while the other one is married. “The single one knows me better,” pointed out Good4. The Mater says that the married one is better.

I. Don’t. Get. It.

I really don’t. I know I’ve been through this before when I was picking out my own references. What on earth is wrong with single people? They’re the ones I keep in touch with, for goodness’s sake. I recently checked the bottom of my profile and discovered, listed there, an MF who probably doesn’t deserve the F in her title. Since she got married we’ve seen each other a grand total of once. I went to her for Shabbos – it was a miserable affair – on condition that she’d come to me in return, which she never did.

(Yes, I have MFs over with their husbands. It’s not nearly as awkward as you’d think. I do have a father, you know, and when guys don’t know each other they just swap divrei Torah and bingo! instant socializing. Not nearly as awkward as sharing a table with just your MF and her husband.)

I shot her a couple of emails, tried to organize a couple of get-togethers, and then gave up. We never really had much in common anyway, and heaven knows what she’s telling all those callers. So I took her off.

And therein lays the issue with using MFs as references. You may still have friendly feelings toward them, but they’re not really up-to-date. They’re off in MF-land where you’re just a blip on the horizon. They check up on you once every few months… and they are intimately acquainted with your dating life vis-à-vis reference calls. How absurd is that?

Or, as MF#1 put it, when she found herself fielding shidduch-calls shortly after we returned from seminary (she was the only MF I had): “I don’t know any of this stuff about you! Why am I getting these calls?”

And, as I put it: “Cuz you’re married and They won’t let me put anyone else on the list.”

So, why are MFs preferred? Can anyone explain this to me?

Arts and Profiles

It was like being nine again, and being sat down at the kitchen table for a Sunday of arts and crafts. We would work industriously, giving each other artistic feedback, and our parents, passing to and fro in the course of their parental duties, would peer over our shoulders and make admiring noises.

Only in this case the parents were peering somewhat more anxiously, and the admiring noises were perhaps a bit more grudging. After all, it’s one thing to encourage your child’s creativity when she’s nine, and creativity consists of discovering a new way to decorate a Popsicle-stick jewelry box (for which she has no jewelry). It’s quite another thing when she’s nineteen, and trying to type her shidduch information in a smiley-face shaped micrography. But in the end they agreed with Good4 that, seeing as nobody considers us “normal” anyhow, there was not much point in our pretending we were unaware.

So, we will both be very shortly outfitted with brand-new and more interesting shidduch profiles. Good4 eventually ditched the smiley face for something a little easier to work with but no less cheerful, and mine will be neatly reorganized in a non-linear, more intuitive model.

Of all the things to giggle with your sister about… But it’s a lot more fun than the first time I did this.

Who Says What a Profile Has to Look Like?

(Or, for those who care: who says like what a profile should appear?)

Starting out at something new and significant is always a reason for nerves. You double check that you’re doing everything right and try hard to do things according to protocol and keep your toes on the white line.

…and then, after a while of that, especially when it turns out to have minimal efficacy, you get bored. And indifferent. And oh – seriously, who cares anyway? It doesn’t make a difference.

Which has to do with…

…the one document in the world that I despise so much that every psychological mechanism you’ve ever heard of – not to mention a few you probably haven’t – kick in to keep me from dealing with it.

Just a f’rinstance:  I don’t keep it in any of my personal storage. Not on my flash drive. Not on my hard drive. And if you asked me, I’d claim it’s not even in my “sent” folder so – sorry, can’t get it to you. Additionally, selective memory kicks in every time I get within ten feet of it. I suddenly forget that I’m supposed to send it to anyone. It’s like a little switch in my brain closes, blocking that particular circuit off from the loop. And if somehow it slips through and I briefly remember, psychosomatic nausea overcomes and I require intense chocolate therapy before I can face reality again – preferably with part of it suppressed. And if I finally do open that [eugh] file (wearing gloves and using forceps) I can’t resist picking at it as if at a pimple. Deleting here, adding there, nudging some words around… In the same vain hope that somehow it’ll turn out better than it wasn’t before.

So the confluence of three events inspired a little rethinking. Event #1 was someone asking me for my shidduch information. Event #2 is a friend going on an artsy streak. Event #3 was Stupid Inventor mentioning drawing a cartoon profile.

Well, why not?  I mean, it’s supposed to be a collection of important information about you, preferably organized in an easy-to-understand format. Who said that format has to be black and white and linear? Why can’t it be color coded and placed in a wheel, one segment naturally blending into the next? Or a collage, where adjacent items relate to a single characteristic of the subject? Or a painting? Or a flowchart? Or a song set to accompanying sheet music? Or micrography? I mean, seriously, those profiles are really one long snooze. Why not throw in a little personality? They could actually be fun to look at, like opening a new present. “Oooh, I wonder what she came up with.” And “Hey, I like this guy, he’s original!”

If we could get a little critical mass going, maybe we can turn those ol’ black n’ whites into an antiquated mark of shame. “Wha-at? Just this? What kind of guy did you set me up with?” And “Bo-ring.”

Forever 21?

A bar mitzvah in the paternal side of the family this weekend means traveling to the city most occupied by the paternal end of the family. Perhaps the paternal end of the family looked upon this as ripe opportunity to set me up with an eligible local bachelor. Or perhaps sending me an invitation merely reminded them that they’d been meaning to set me up with said bachelor for a while now.

At any rate, they did the shadchan-thing, and I was bcc’d on the email sent to the bachelor-in-question’s father.

The first half of the email was occupied with descriptions of my parents  so laudatory that even a teenager would have been proud to be related. For a brief moment I basked in the glow of such wonderful forebears. Then I eagerly rushed to the paragraphs at the bottom covering myself. Hey, I can always use an ego boost.

After a glowing introduction, which I thoroughly enjoyed (though it sounded vaguely familiar), the paragraph got down to the essentials. For starters, I was 21 years old.

Um, wait?

I’m going to be 23 in August.

I continued reading, and a sneaking suspicion snuck up behind me and started reading over my shoulder. Height as 5 feet 4.5 inches? That decimal point… The list of things I enjoy, that turn of phrase describing my goals in life… Yep, there was no doubt about it: this had all come straight off my shidduch dossier.

Not that I minded. I hadn’t seen this branch of the paternal end in years, so what else would they have to work with? But clearly, if people were going to be using my crib sheet as, well, a crib sheet, I was going to have to do some maintenance.

It’s not that I don’t update the thing. I’ve changed the references as more friends have gotten married and others have drifted away. I’ve updated my education as I acquire it and my employment as it changes. I guess it never occurred to me to scroll to the top and change my stats. I mean, my name hasn’t changed, my height hasn’t changed, and, um, what else is up there again? I guess my age. It changes. But not that often – only every 12 months. Why would I remember to change it?

I resolve to update my dossier next time I’m near it (I conveniently keep it on the family computer hard drive, which is now about 100 miles away). But then I think about the ramifications. I scroll back down the email to the list of my accomplishments. To do it all by the age of 23 – meh. No biggie. But by 21? Now that is impressive.

Hm. Maybe I’ll leave it for now.

Shidduch Resume Outdated?

Frum N’ Flipping on the shidduch DVD, a way to learn more than you really wanted to about someone from the comfort of your living room.

The one distinct advantage I see is to the references. By taping an interview during which they discuss the potential in question, you save them an awful lot of phone calls.

The disadvantage at this point is the cost of a DVD. But why DVD? Just upload the videos to a protected webpage or non-public YouTube account, and provide the access password to interested people.

Visually Unreasonable

A would-be shadchan called my mother about a prospective date.

“Can you fax me Bad4’s profile and a picture?”

My mother made reluctant noises. She doesn’t like this whole “send a photo” business.

“He’s looking for a really beautiful girl, so he needs to see a picture first,” the shadchan explained.

At this point I would have terminated the conversation, saying that the only person who consistently refers to me as beautiful is my grandmother, and she has both a great deal of bias and cataracts. But my mother, bless her, is more zealous for my pride, and she continued the conversation, asking about the young man. He is in college and yeshiva and plans to go to law school.

“Well, I’ll ask my daughter,” my mother said. “Can you provide a profile and a photograph?”

“What do you need a photograph for?” asked the would-be shadchan, baffled.

“Just to know what he looks like,” replied my mother vaguely.

“That’s not how it’s done,” the shadchan worried. “She’ll see him plenty on the first date.”

“True, but she may not want to, if he’s lacking in visual appeal.”

“I just wouldn’t feel comfortable asking him,” the shadchan fretted. “I don’t think he’d be willing.”

My mother insisted.

“This is very unreasonable of you.”

“Well, then I’m afraid he’s just not for us,” my mother said regretfully, and that was that.

 

You go, Ma!

Miss Special, Meet Mr. Best

My brother was complaining about the huge amount of special girls out there. He says he gets a small amount of information about each proposed match, and too much space is wasted on how special she is. “They’re all special! There are too many special girls and too many best bochurim.”

At first, I wasn’t sure why he cared about the best bochur business. Then I realized. Being a best bochur himself, he resents the flooding of the market and the dilution of the name.

Not that being a “best bochur” should be such a big deal. One Shobbos in Israel I ate with an entire yeshiva. Yep, all four students. It can’t be too hard to be the best bochur in that place. In fact, they can even rotate it, depending on who’s dating that week. “Best” is a very relative term. Who cares?

And what’s with this ‘special’ business? It’s gotten to the point where you’re most conspicuous if you’re not special. And I’m afraid I’m not. If anyone has ever called me “special” they need their head checked. I assume that “special” is a way of saying “aidel” without saying it. Or else it’s a way of saying “there’s more to her than meets the eye.”Which is another way of saying, “she looks incredibly boring and ordinary, but since you won’t go out with an ordinary and boring person, let me assure you that she’s really got something more to her. Just don’t ask me what.”

“Special” sounds slightly vaguer than “sparkling.” Someone once tried to set me up with a fellow who, in his long list of must-haves in a mate, included “a sparkling personality.” My personality doesn’t sparkle, glitter, twinkle, or coruscate. It just plods on steadily, day after day, except when it decides to sleep late and then you don’t want to meet me. I can count on exactly one finger the number of definite sparklers I know. She was engaged a few months out of high school, broke the engagement, and was engaged again a few months later. Which should let you know how in-demand those sparkling personalities are. Shucks for the rest of us.

(By Mr. I-Want-a-Sparkler’s list, he seemed to require a butterfly who would flutter solicitously around his flame and “help him achieve his full potential.” Aside from having a husband who has achieved his full potential, I couldn’t see what was in it for me, so I said no thank you. He is now happily married and I am still happily single. Life works out very well if you give it a chance.)

Back to my point, if I had one: does anyone know what “special” actually means? And does “best bochur” have any meaning at all?