HT to whoever sent me this (although The Onion is actually the only newspaper I rss feed to my phone, so I would have seen it eventually).
We were sitting around the table at NMF #16′s wedding when the inevitable segula lady came around with the challah. “Who wants some?” She asked. “Whatever you need, it’s good for it.”
“Like… carbs?” I muttered under my breath. Being somewhat stuffed at the time, I politely turned down the challah. “I’m not hungry.”
“Oh you don’t need to eat the whole slice!” she laughed. “Just take a bite.”
“No thank you.”
My co-table-ists looked impressed, like I’d just made some kind of statement. Truthfully, I just wasn’t hungry.
After she bustled onward, my neighbor turned to me (after finishing a bite of the challah) and asked: “Relative to other religions, do you think Jews are more or less supersititous?”
If we just look at just the segulos related to shidduchim, I’d have to say “Yes.”
In fact, there were enough of them to fill three posts on the subject:
Segulos part 3
Sign language. Since a great deal of matchmaking takes place in areas way too noisy for normal communication.
Overheard by Relarela: “I want to get married so that my friends will make me shtick.”
Well, granted, shtick is when you find out exactly how interesting you are, or how interesting your friends think you are. Don’t you ever wonder what they’ll come up with for your wedding? Sometimes I’m terrified that I’ll get married and people will show up with some lame maypole and arches and that’ll be it, and then and there, on my wedding night, I will learn how truly boring I am.
Wedding-night suicides happen outside of The Princess Bride too, you know.
It’s a depressing possibility. Almost makes me want the opposite: not get married so that I don’t see whether my friends make shtick or not.
Personally, I think trying to discuss your ideals in marriage at a wedding is a recipe for disaster. (See this item about sign language.)
But sometimes, it’s just the people you’re talking to who are a disaster… Like this poor friend of mine, who I’m glad to say, has since married a guy who matched her description exactly, and the Women in Black’s not at all.
Honestly, if being a balding, orphaned-by-the-paparazzi, next-in-line-to-be Prince of Wales isn’t bad for shidduchim, what is? Definitely on my list of “If he could find a match, I can.”
I’m talking about the Women in Black.
They warned me about them when I returned from seminary. These women would be watching me at weddings, on the street, at casual events… they’d be taking notes, and if they liked me, they would marry me off. My fate was in their hands.
My argument was rudimentary: I didn’t see them, ergo they didn’t exist. None of them ever asked my name from me or any of my friends. I went to weddings, marched the streets, and attended events without once feeling their gaze penetrating the back of my Little Black Suit. So I discounted their existence.
Well I was wrong. They do exist. But I don’t merit their attention. That’s the sad fact.
I know they exist because a younger friend of mine recently entered shidduchim at a belated age. And she can’t seem to get away from the Women in Black. They’re the neighbor in her friend’s living room. They’re the woman who gives her a ride home from a wedding. They split a piece of seven-layer-cake with her at the kiddush.
She tells me with a startled delight about how she just asked this woman for a ride home from a wedding and in the car it turned out the woman was a shadchan and had asked for her information and thought she had a boy for her. She tells me about the woman she met in a living room who makes shidduchim and will certainly be on the lookout for her. She recites a veritable litany of “accidental” meetings with Women in Black. But oh – I know it’s not accident. No: when the Women in Black want to find you, they find you.
The only time I ever met a Woman in Black at a wedding was when one asked me the name of one of my friends. I thought it was a fluke. But no, it’s not them. They exist. It’s me. I don’t exist. Not on their radar, anyway. The Women in Black have seen me and they did not care to dwell on what they saw.
Yeah, that’s depressing.
And liberating. The Women in Black aren’t keeping tabs on me! Wahoo! No need for obsequious kowtowing to their standards! Let’s go running down Avenue J with pajama pants sticking out from under our denim skirts!
So, I’m at a wedding, sitting at the chupah. There are these tehillim cards on the seats so you can engage your mouth in a productive way during the ceremonies. The first three folds are tehillim, and after that are a string of personal prayers: for successful children, for a spouse, for health, for long life, for sustenance…
Don’t get me wrong. On an ordinary day I would go straight through all of those from beginning to end without compunction. But not at a chupah. When I’m at a chupah I want to be davening for the couple. They’re about to set out on a perilous journey (etc etc), and a new marriage is, in many ways, scarier than eternal spinsterhood. At their own chupah, would it be too much to ask for a few prayers?
And yet, at their own chupah even the couple aren’t davening for themselves. They prepare these long lists of friends to daven for, for all the items listed above. I’m sure it’s wonderful for them to be so selfless at this pivotal moment in their life, but is it really the best use of their time?
But what the bride and groom do is their own business. As a perennial member of the audience, though, I’d like to request a Prayer for a Couple Getting Married to be written and published in these pamphlets. Is anyone up for the job?
“You should make three weddings this year.”
~ My Grandmother
“Whoever gets married first gets the biggest wedding.”
~ My Father
Seeing as I’m partial to eloping, maybe I should go last.
Visited a museum this weekend. One item that piqued my interest was the mention of a courtship dance performed by northwestern American Indian men. It involved wooden wands decorated with buckskin fringes; beyond that no details were provided. Alas, YouTube has none either, but you can guess what it may look like from related footage. I think it would be fun if our guys had to dress up in fringes and eagle-feather bustles to court us, don’t you?
Of course, in the next room over it discussed the Wedding Trade. And you thought we had it down to an irritating science, what with who gets the sheitel and who gets the bechar and who pays for the band and who gets the couple for the first Pesach. Well, among the Wasco, Walla Walla, and Paiute, it’s something like this:
The boy’s family gives the horses. The girl’s family gives food. The boy’s family provides skins, the girl’s family, baskets. And there are gifts of clothing and jewelry and wampum and goodness knows what else, each required by one of the sides. The description, given by soundbyte, went on for about 5 minutes.
Just in case you thought we were unique and particularly obsessive.
There was a section with period actors and actresses, so I strolled into a woman’s kitchen as she was doing her dishes. “Goodness!” she exclaimed to her neighbor who was keeping her company. “Why she’s the first woman I’ve seen all day who’s dressed appropriately!” I agreed that it was scandalous how some of these other visitors dressed, but perhaps it was understandable considering the difficulty of obtaining or making fabric out on the frontier. Well, naturally we got to talking, and she asked me, point blank, without any of that smothering sensitivity one expects in frummer areas, if I was a spinster.
I guess it’s obvious enough, if not exactly written on my forehead.
I admitted that I was indeed a spinster.
Seeing my somewhat abashed expression, she hastened to assure me that being a spinster was nothing bad – it was being a productive member of society, earning your own keep, so you didn’t need a husband. And heaven knew they could use a spinster out there – she pulled her Montgomery Ward catalog off the shelf to show me how much yarn costs, and we agreed that I could certainly undercut the company by using local sheep and alpacas.
She thought if there were more independent women around, why, women might just get the vote! Not that her husband would let her vote – he thinks women are feebleminded -
Seeing the expression on my face (mostly embarrassment for her husband, actually), she hastened to assure me that he was a good, law-abiding man – obeys the rule of thumb, and never switches her with anything thicker than that digit.
I said I thought I was going to look into that spinster gig very seriously after all.
It’s so old, I was only up to NMF#8. Who is by now an MF and has probably stopped doing the Twist.
For those of us who are still single, there’s always the hokey pokey.
Ah, weddings. Don’t we all love weddings? I love friends’ weddings, anyway. Relatives weddings are another story. Not that I’m not happy for the couple and all that, but there’s always that double check on your appearance to make sure you’re not going to embarrass the nuclear family in the presence of the extended family. “Oh no you’re not wearing that little black suit. Wear the other little black suit.”
As a single person, it gets worse. Because not only do you have to worry about offending the family eyes, but there are also those other people who you must see, and while you’re at it, must impress. In other words:“Before you walk out the door let me see if you’re presentable because I hear there’s a shadchan at table 29, and table 32 is going to have the mother of someone who was mentioned as a potential match, and why aren’t you wearing a necklace?”
Because I never remember a blasted necklace. Last time I wore a necklace to a wedding, a friend fainted from the shock and they had to bring her around with water. Her makeup smeared, and I decided I wasn’t going to do that again—too much fallout. But seriously, I’m not trying to antagonize anyone. I forgot.
Anyway, I shrugged off the “shadchan at table 29 business” this wedding, because the shadchanim who were supposed to be at Blushing Bride’s vort never materialized. I went confidently and benecklaced.
I guess I underestimated how much my parents had cranked up the Marry Off Bad4 project. Or else it was the fact that my aunt, finally disposed of her own young old maid, decided to do something on behalf of my mother’s. So she actually briefed the shadchan on table 29 and told the mother on 32 to look out for me.
Luckily, we arrived just in time for the chupah, so the only embarrassment I had to suffer was failing to recognize a great aunt I’d only met twice in my life 3 years ago. Question: when someone asks “Do you know who I am?” and you suspect you do but aren’t sure, is it better to hazard a guess and risk being wrong, or should you just say “no clue”?
Anyway, after the chupah I chatted up all my cousins for a polite amount of time, and then we went off to find the sinks. Naturally, it was on my way back in after washing that my mother caught my eye and started beckoning. I’m sure I made an incredible impression on the Woman in Black by just shaking my head and continuing to my table. But I came back a couple of minutes later, being a good and obedient daughter. They were positioned directly behind the band, which was playing at decibels to match the ritzyness of the wedding, which was considerable.
“YOU COULD HAVE CHOSEN A WORSE PLACE FOR THIS CONVERSATION,” I howled. “LIKE MAYBE IN FRONTOF THE BAND.”
My mother didn’t even notice that I was trying to communicate with her. But being used to raising her voice to command the attention of rioting children, she was better able to convey to me, “THIS IS MRS. MADEASHIDDUCH! SHE MADE SOMEONE OR ANOTHER’S SHIDDUCH! I WANT YOU TO MEET HER!”
I smile politely at Mrs. Madeashidduch, being otherwise struck dumb. Not because I was awed by the fact that she’d successfully matched two people up, or even that I wasn’t sure what to say next, but simply because when you know a person is only going to catch every third word that you say, you have to choose your words carefully. In the end, I said nothing, letting my mother shriek about how astoundingly wantable I was. (Which is why, naturally, she’s so eager to get rid of me.)
I finally escaped back to my table, but my mother finds me there; she hasn’t forgotten the shadchan at table 29. I sigh and follow her to table 29.
“SO WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?” asks the table 29 shadchan.
“SOMEPLACE QUIET ENOUGH TO TALK!” I respond, lungs beginning to ache. She seems to agree, though, and we move off to the corner farthest from the band where we can talk at only 2/3 capacity.
“So what are you looking for?” she asks again.
These bands have got to get quieter. I’m willing to bet that most Orthodox Jews lose more hearing between the ages of 18 and 25 and 45 and 55 then at any other point in their lives, just from attending weddings. I was rather disturbed to find that I couldn’t hear myself bentch unless I shouted. I kept waiting, as I bellowed through Nodeh Lichah, for the music to stop abruptly and me to be left shouting into the silence like in that practical joke 5th graders adore so much. I was also horrified by the ringing audible in my ears every time I stepped more than fifty feet away from the dance floor. But most awful is the way the music disrupts the brisk matchmaking business going on along the sidelines, as Women in Black discuss and talk to Girls in Black. Some consideration, please! We’re trying to get married—do you mind?
All this would be less of a problem if singles and shadchanim all knew Sign Language. We could all go deaf without knowing it, and still be able to ask and answer, “So, what are you looking for?”
If anyone knows how to sign “What are you looking for?” please let me know. And if there are signs for “earner, learner, learner-earner, earner-learner,” please let me know too. I’d like to collaborate on a YouTube video for the edification of the frum populace. With all the shidduch initiatives going on, I think this is one worth pursuing. Girls are there, shadchanim are there, why not bring them together in productive communication, instead of this screaming inefficiency? Post below if you would like to participate.