A Sincere Apology

I owe you guys an apology.

If you’re reading this, then you’re awesome. You keep coming back, trusting me to put up fresh, interesting content, and  I have been letting you down recently. And, unfortunately, I am about to let you down even more.

A couple of years ago I tried writing a VBA program  to  simulate the dating process. When I ran my code, it got caught in an infinite loop. Taking this as a stamp of realism, I abandoned the virtual dating code and went back to reality’s dating code.  I was living in the infinite loop, going out with new guys every few months on an endless reel of first and second dates.

Well, recently, a software developer offered to help me drop out of the loop.

And I accepted.

This makes me an NEF, the butt of my own jokes, and no longer suitable to author this blog. With this post, I tender my resignation, effective immediately. Reposts will continue regularly until they reach today’s date. I sincerely apologize to everyone who is disappointed or inconvenienced in any way and wish you all the best.

PS: Since you are doubtless wondering: Blogging is both bad and good for shidduchim. Sometimes for the same shidduch.

PPS: And sometimes 42 really is the answer.

“Older” Girls at 22

So, by now you’ve probably all seen the widely excoriated article in which an old Flatbush rabbi states that girls expire at age 20.

“If we didn’t tell these boys that girls expire at 20, they wouldn’t be so reluctant to date 21-year-olds,” someone complained to me. “You think these guys know what a size 4 dress means? Or a size 6? They don’t. They just absorb what they’re told by people like this.”

Then she told me this great story about “older” girls.

This guy was redt a shidduch to a great girl. He was warned that she was an “older” single, already 22, but really wonderful in every way and he should at least give it a try.

With great trepidation, he drives up to her house. He’s really nervous, because, well, she’s old, and he doesn’t want to be shallow but…

He rings the doorbell and she opens the door, and his heart sinks. She’s just… so old looking. Not that maturity doesn’t have its benefits but…

Bravely, he wishes her a good evening.

“Oh, Chani will be right down,” the older woman said. And as she spoke, a young, beautiful woman floated down the stairs in a haze of chiffon.

He was smitten at first sight. Two months later, he proposed to her. Three children later, they still laugh about the time he thought he was going to take her mother out for coke at the Marriott.

NYC Taxi Driver Tells It Straight

Why do aidel maidels need to be so tznius? The mashal is often given to a precious diamond, which is kept hidden away in a safe, not exposed where anyone can see or steal it.

In the opening anecdote of Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt’s latest article, a NYC taxi driver explains the problem with this comparison:

 

We usually don’t take a car,” the yeshiva boy says to the driver, an older Irish man with a hearty laugh and a dapper straw hat. “But the lady was inappropriately attired (he winks at his date), in her heels I mean, so we had to — “

The yeshiva boy’s date cuts him off and leans forward to the driver, deciding to turn her frustrations into a joke: “Sir, he doesn’t really care about the heels. It’s my actual choice of attire that he finds inappropriate. My skirts are too short, it makes him nervous, he won’t even call me by my name, you know how religious boys are…”

The driver turns the corner. “That’s the problem with religion, it’s sexist,” he says, looking at her in his mirror. “I know because my parents were religious Catholics. It’s all a bunch of sexist garbage.”

The boy and girl laugh nervously over the profanity, and the girl says slowly, “Well, I don’t think religion itself is sexist, it’s just that chauvinists still exist…” She casts the boy a look.

The boy turns back to the driver: “But don’t you agree, sir, that if you have the most precious diamond in the world, you keep it wrapped up? You don’t take it to the streets to show the entire world?”

The girl gasps silently — she is taken backwards in time, back to the apologetics they taught in 7th grade, again and again, bas melech, kol kvoda pnima, a princess’s honor is all inside, a divine jewel to be kept hidden…

But before she can respond, the driver presses the brakes. He turns around and faces the yeshiva boy, and says slowly, his voice shaking with rage: “Listen to me, boy. This is not an object you’re talking about. This is a living, breathing human being.”

 

What he is saying is: when you lock someone away like a diamond, you are treating them like property, not a person.

This is how objectification works:  By preventing other humans from meeting your “diamond,” you prevent other humans from acknowledging their humanity. The other humans only know about them from descriptions. This, essentially, turns them into objects defined by their description.

Not making sense? I’ll be less abstract:

If men learn about women strictly from a photo proffered by a shadchan, then they will accept and reject women based on the simplest algorithm: appearances. Which objectifies women. So, by keeping women hidden from men, you objectify them. You do not protect them.

I can’t believe I blogged about shidduchim for seven years and never realized this.

But there you go: that is the root problem. The reason why shidduch dating is so offensive.

There’s another, similar, point to be made about sexualization. Arguably, there is nothing overtly (or possibly even covertly) sexual about a woman’s knees. However, if a gentleman glances at your knees, blushes, looks away, and refuses to look at you anymore, then your knees have just been sexualized. And you have just been turned into an object. A sexual object. Something that can’t be looked at without creating sexual thoughts, because everything about you — and especially your knobbly knees — are sexual.

In the opening story, the boy (and yes, he’s a boy not a man or even a guy) decided that Avital’s skirt was too short to be seen in public. He begins making decisions for her about how she ought to appear in public, on the theory that she’s not a person, she’s a diamond. Bam! Objectified! Sexualized!

So you see why Avital was a little upset.

By the way, I’m awed by her presence of mind and her guts in telling that smug bochur how it is. She’s my new rebbe. I’m a total fan. Go read her article.

Also, thank you NYC for having awesome taxicab drivers.

 

 

Solve All Your Problems in One Man

So this is a true story.

A woman moved to Ofakim. She had a job, she found an apartment, she went to shul, she got invited out for a meal.

At the meal, her hostess kindly inquired how she was adjusting, and she chatted a bit about some of the challenges of moving to a small, hot town in the south of Israel when you grew up in Milwaukee.

But every time she’d mention something, her host would interject, “Nu? All she needs is a good shidduch and everything will be fine.”

So, think, “Ulpan is great, but I still have trouble with some of the technical jargon for my job.”

“Nu? All she needs is a good shidduch and everything will be fine.”

“Not having Sundays is challenging. When do you do laundry and groceries?”

“Nu! What’s the problem? You need a good shidduch!”

“Last night the cats yowled under my window for 7 hours straight and I didn’t get any sleep.”

“What’s the problem? You need to get married!”

Doubtless, he thought he was being adorable. In fact, he was being annoying and condescending, minimizing everything she said by claiming life would be perfect if only she had a man.

Personally, I applaud her for making a big and brave move on her own — yes, all alone without a man — and I’m confident she’ll be able to handle everything her new town throws her way — on her own. 

And if she had a guy to do the laundry, well, that would just be icing.

Congrats to NEF #21

Okay, I made that number up. I don’t know what number she is. But she deserves a special public congratulations, because according to her high school teacher, she wasn’t ever supposed to get engaged.

You know how bais yaakov teachers roll. It’s all “Do what I say or you’ll never get married!” Heck, I had a Tefillah teacher in 12th grade who told us she got a shidduch call about a girl who didn’t pay attention in Tefillah class and, well, “I just couldn’t think of anything nice to say about her.”

I can’t think of anything nice to say about that teacher.

So, moving right along. NEF #21 really wanted to go to Michlala in Israel to study for a year. But her teacher told her that if she didn’t go to a bais yaakov seminary, nobody would ever want to date her.

NEF thought about that a bit. She realized that, in fact, people who study in Michlala do not comprise the entirety of the “shidduch crisis” pool. Moreover, if she went to a bais yaakov seminary, she’d probably wind up dating the wrong kind of people. The type who think like her teacher, perhaps. So she went to Michlala, learned a lot, had a great year, and now, guess what? She’s engaged!

Thank You, Avigail

Good4 just handed me an article from the January 28, 2015 Ami magazine. It’s written by Avigail Rabin and the pull quote, in a bright aquamarine, is “I get the impression that I’m supposed to walk around in a wooden barrel, indoors, devoid of jewelry, until I am married.”

Naturally, I was intrigued. It took me about 45 seconds to devour the entire forum article, which was brilliant. While all rights belong to Ami, here are the first two paragraphs:

I don’t consider myself “a single.” I am very much the same person I was in fourth grade, in twelfth grade, at the age of 21, and last year. Me. Me who has not yet met Mr. Right, who is presumably out there somewhere, wondering where in the world I am and when I’ll be showing up. Why am I sharing this with absolute strangers? Because I’ve read so many perspectives on me and my supposed life and feelings on these pages and others by parents, shadchanim, mental health professionals, and even other singles, and not one of them has expressed my viewpoint. So here it is.

Last week I went shopping and came home with a beautiful Shabbos outfit. I teach a full day, tutor after school, and while I try to save responsibly for the future, I do occasionally shop. My mother said, “Wow, that looks amazing on you! Why don’t you put it aside for your sheva brochos?” Never mind that my last date was (a) uninspiring and (b) seven weeks ago. The same week I told a coworker I had just booked a flight to Eretz Yisroel for midwinter vacation. She replied, “Don’t go now; put it off and the first bein hazmanim that you’re married!” Then last summer, when I bought myself some really nice earrings in Florida with one of my als0-waiting friends, my grandmother, shaking her head in disappointment, wondered, “What’s the chasan going to buy you?”

Avigail, I officially love you. If you can write like this twice a week, and are so inclined, you can have my URL.

Dating Games

So, I remember that time a guy brought a pack of cards on a date. It was from a board game, but the point was to ask people things you would never otherwise ask them. Like, personal questions. Sometimes nosy. The second one that came up for me was, “What’s the most embarrassing thing in your bathroom?”

“Uh…” I said. I could think of a lot of things in my bathroom that would be embarrassing to talk about on a first date.

Needless to say, that game didn’t do much for our date, which died in the water.

I’ve had a card game like that (The Ungame) be more successful later on in the dating, like, once you’ve actually got to a point where you feel comfortable discussing, at least, the contents of your kitchen, if not your bathroom.

Anyway, SYAS has entered the dating card game game.

Some of the essential questions it covers: “What do you think of a woman earning more than her partner?” & “What would you do if you had to entertain a 5-year-old for a day?”  & “Do you prefer meat, dairy, or pareve?” (What?) Well hey. If you don’t get any mileage out of the questions, you might get some out of making fun of the game.

Ungame - Jewish version

You Nevah Know!

“You nevah know from where a shidduch can come!” That was the reasoning that was supposed to compel me to attend the weddings of strangers, and various other events, in the hope that a Woman in Black would take pity on me and set me up with my future husband.

Well, it’s true. You nevah know. Your Woman in Black might actually be a Man in Brown, like this UPS truck driver, who delivers more than just packages. (HT to the Overland Park fan.)