I’m Old – I’m Young

We’re at a vort from the Lakewood side. My mother drifts my way and asks, “So have you said hello to Tante Malka yet?”

“To who?” I ask. I mean, yeah my parents have oodles of siblings, and yes I confess (with a blush) to losing track of my cousins, but I’m pretty sure I know all my aunts and uncles.

Just to double check, I pull out my trusty fingers and start ticking them off.

“Aunt Miri, Uncle Mordechai, Tante Mindy, Uncle Mendy, Aunt Menucha, Uncle Moishe, Aunt Mirel, Uncle Menachem…” Nope, no Tante Malkas.

“Tante Malka. She’s your great-aunt’s grandson’s aunt.”

“Does that make her related to me?”

“Sure! And she lives right near The Yeshiva and has boys over for Shobbos meals all the time.”

Oho. I see where this is heading.

“Mom, forget about it.”

“You’re not going to say mazal tov to your aunt? I can’t believe I raised you.”

“I’ve survived this long without saying hello to her; I can survive a little longer without saying anything else to her either.”

OK, fast forward the debate. Suffice it to say I find myself in front of Tante Malka. She’s a plump woman dressed up to her chin in a black suit.

“Malka, have you met my daughter, Bad4?”

“Oh how nice!” Tante Malka bubbles. “And what school are you in?”

School? I guess I don’t look very grown up today. “Uh… Touro College?”

“Touro College?” Tante Malka’s eyebrows reach for her hairline. Comprehension dawns. She scrutinizes me from the toes of my new Payless pumps to the top of my hastily done hair.

Oh merciful God… when I’m dying and my life is flashing before my eyes—can you please, please, please leave this part out?

“So how old are you?” Tante Malka asks, with a smile.

“Twenty one.”

“Twenty one! We have to find someone for you already! What are you looking for?”

Who am I looking for, I think darkly, but don’t say that. The conversation proceeds as all such conversations proceed. You don’t need me to fill in the rest.


Contrast that to the events at a wedding from the Manhattan side of the family. My grandmother steers me toward her second cousin’s granddaughter, a middle-aged woman with that pinched look characteristic of the serious dieter, whose skirt will not cover her knees when she sits. “Have you met my wonderful granddaughter Bad4?” my grandmother asks.

The second cousin’s granddaughter smiles. “I’ve heard all about you from your grandmother,” she tells me.

“Don’t believe half of it,” I say hastily. Everyone laughs, though I wasn’t joking.

“Now Bad4 needs a really wonderful fellow,” my grandmother begins.

“How old are you?” the second cousin’s granddaughter asks.

“Twenty one,” I answer.

“Only twenty one? What’s your rush? You’ve got plenty of time!”Old or young in shidduch dating

“D’ya think so?” I ask rhetorically, thinking of Tante Malka.

“Yes of course!” she says, not knowing about Tante Malka. “You’re young – enjoy yourself a little. Don’t feel pressured to settle down.”

Maybe she does know about Tante Malka.

“Don’t worry,” I smile. “I’m not feeling any more pressure than I want to.”

“But if you know of any bright young men…” my grandmother persists. The cousin nods and begins a half-hearted grilling. I grin and bear it. Heck – who doesn’t need a bit of kapara now and then?

So am I old, or am I young? Should I be long-married or is that premature? Or does it go according to whichever side of the family you’re currently with?

As they say: it’s all relative.


14 thoughts on “I’m Old – I’m Young

  1. I think you’re in that funny in-between age where half the world thinks you’re already an old maid and the other half thinks you’re still practically a child. Therefore, you’re exactly as old as you think you are. 🙂

  2. “Twenty one! We have to find someone for you already! What are you looking for?”

    Who am I looking for, I think darkly, but don’t say that.


  3. 21 is young. The only reason I feel anxious is because I don’t know when it will happen. When I was 21, I certainly wasn’t dying to get married, I actually didn’t want to get married. But when the “cheese stays alone”, it hits you and all I worry about at this point is that I shouldn’t end up an old maid. If I knew it will happen,it’s just a matter of waiting, I’d be calmer. But there are so many singles in the high 20’s and 30’s, that there is no guarantee.

  4. I’m assuming that was a rhetorical question, or else you would be subjected to another of my lengthy monologues…

    Great post, as usual. I like how you put that picture to the issue 🙂

  5. Or perhaps you could answer, like Goldilocks in the Three Bears Story, after sampling one porridge that was too hot and one that was too cold, when faced with the third porridge, it was “just right.”

    One girl I know, when faced with the “you’re getting old” nonsense just smiles and says “Yes, it is B”H wonderful that I am getting older–the alternative lies six feet under.”

    Another answers “I’m sorry but it is mathematically impossible for me to be too young or too old. If I was born in 19– then I am the age I am supposed to be.”

    Or try this possibility. Since Tante Malke–and we all have a Tante Malke–is so concerned about you, call her tomorrow, starting at 7:00 am and ask her if she has a shidduch for you, and then call 12 more times that day. And the next day call 17 times. Some people are slow learners and you might have to call her 23 times on the third day. I guarantee you that by that third day she is going to stop taking your calls and she sure won’t mention shidduchim to you ever again. Worst come to worst, she might actually stop needling you and come up with a viable name.

  6. YOUNG YOUNG YOUNG YOUNG YOUNG…. Travel, travel, travel. Have fun. With friends and alone. Visit family and friends out of town and date there. While you tour there. Don’t just go to date. This is the best time of your life. Silly, huh. But true. College, freedom, and not yet old. Please–forgive me if I haven’t read all your posts–but please go to places other than Miami and Israel. America is beautiful. America is great. The Grand Canyon. The California Coast. The snowy Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Alaska, for goodness sakes. Take a friend or two and get out there. And let the worryers in the family set up the dates for when you get home. Or, like I said before, get out of town. There are great guys living there–even ones who skew toward the Yeshivish side if that’s what you want. But, interestingly enough, they are normal and so are their parents.

  7. I’m not in the frum world. But in the secular world, 21 is YOUNG. *Very* young to get married, especially for a Jewish girl. For a woman with a professional career who also wants kids, 28-32 seems to be the range.

    This obviously not appropriate in all communities. But … marrying later is not impossible. I got married quite late (even by secular standards) and while the pool of available people was smaller, I also felt that things were more clear than when I was younger.

    One factor is an internal feeling of readiness to be married. The other is meeting a person who makes the idea of getting married feel inspiring.

    I don’t think you can force either of those things to happen at a specific age for every single person.

    I imagine that in a community where every girl is married by X age that most people are ready for the *idea* of being married. But it may take them much longer to be ready to be married to the *person* they married.

    A lot of my older single friends wish we had a shidduch system. I can see the problems with a very rigid system, but … being entirely responsible for finding your own bashert has its drawbacks as well.

  8. To strength and all else-
    “Young” or “old”, if you feel it’s a good time for you to get married, then that’s the right age, no matter what it is!

  9. Pingback: Friday Repost: My Age is Relatives | Bad for Shidduchim

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