What Animal Would You Marry?

Portrait of the author:

Shidduch animal
Skimming the Hamodia this week, I found a letter responding to a Reader’s Forum article about the habit of comparing girls to animals for purposes of shidduchim. The bochur wrote that he got the same question about his (male) roommate recently and didn’t see why it was unreasonable; chazal compare people to animals all the time.

Intrigued, I dug through the newspaper stack to the previous issue, and found another letter to the editor by a woman who agreed with the Reader’s Forum writer that our girls are being degraded by these terrible questions; she got the same animal question last week, closely followed by another humdinger: “What cemetery are her grandparents buried in?”

Now really curious, I dug down through the papers further, mentally blessing my father for not recycling them yet. Finally, I uncovered the Reader’s Forum piece.

It was written by a young lady in shidduchim who was answering some questions about her friend. After a little chat the mother asked, “What animal would you compare your friend to?” The young lady was horrified. How dare this woman compare her friend to an animal? The mother went on to ask, “And can you list all her chesronos?” The young lady thought angrily, “Because your son is perfect?” and terminated the call.

She used this as a springboard to write 200 words about how dehumanizing the shidduch process is and how little respect girls—I mean, young women—get. She says she feels like chattel being eyed for the market whenever she attends a wedding, but until now, nobody had ever vocalized the unsaid but understoond status of young ladies of marriageable age.

I feel bad for her. She has such a large chip on her shoulder that she can’t see around it.

The questions “What animal would you be?” and “What’s your greatest shortcoming?” are classic job-interview questions. The propriety of treating marriage as a job is not a subject for this post. But this mother didn’t deserve the rage directed at her. She wasn’t calling anyone an animal and she wasn’t suggesting that her son was stooping to date this girl. She was just attempting to gauge—albeit in a misguided way—the temperament and character of a prospective match.

That aside, since three people wrote in saying they received the same “animal” question regarding shidduchim, it seems clear that we must prepare an appropriate answer.

For job interviews, the right answer is always “cat.” Cats are neat, poised, independent, and always land on their feet. Employers like that. I’ve used it. I’m employed.

As for the “chisronos” question: the best strategy is to name a real failing that won’t come into play in the job you’re seeking. For example, if you’re interviewing to work as a salesman, lament your inability to work on a team.

But employment isn’t the same as marriage. Cats are too independent for marriage, while dogs are too reliant. Besides, they drool and need to be taken for walks. Not exactly how you want your prospective mother-in-law to think about you. So I asked my family to come up with my shidduch fauna persona. It took a bit of thought. My mother suggested “seal” because they come with very little baggage by way of connotations. At the very worst, they always seem to be enjoying themselves and they can balance balls on their noses. For a future-housekeeping career-woman, being able to balance something on one’s nose can be a valuable talent.

My father suggested “mare” because they’re calm, can both work and be motherly, and are associated with a horse’s power, versatility, and beauty without the connotation about eating like one.

Working out my chisronos is taking a bit more thought because the nature of marriage is that very few things don’t come into play in it. In the mean time, I’ll let all my references know that my animal alter ego is a mare.

Portrait of the author in the kitchen:

shidduch animal


38 thoughts on “What Animal Would You Marry?

  1. I don’t know..I really wouldn’t appreciate being compared to an animal. I don’t care how valid the question. There are other ways of finding out about a prospective shidduch other than comparing her or him to animals.

  2. Not bad at all. I like the analogies. Of course, the downside to seals is that they do tricks, but aren’t really that original. And, they are a little ungainly on land.

    As for a horse — well, that’s pretty close to perfect. They can be sleek, regal, maternal yet wild and independent, swift, etc. Although, of course, there is the classic descriptor of inbred, upper class women as having faces that look “horsey” (longish, flared nostrils, fat lips, large, square teeth etc.)

    My vote for the most flattering animal analogy would be lioness – fierce yet tender, quick witted, independent yet group-oriented, and easy on the eyes. Sort of a grown-up version of a cat, if you will.

    Love the blog.

  3. I wouldn’t call it valid either, Halfshared. I think it’s ok to ask a person in front of you “What animal would you be” but not OK to ask someone else “What animal would he/she be?” The first is asking about a practice that people often indulge in for themselves, the second is asking for an ambiguous evaluation in an ambiguous way.

    You don’t think lioness would be too intimidating, or maybe suggest too much ego? One must be careful about such things. A lot is hanging on this innocent question… 😉

  4. Heh. Good point. Well, maybe we want something that is both domesticated and wild.

    Or — here’s an idea — a dolphin: Sleek, fast, playful, highly intelligent, smiling, brave, free spirit, family-oriented, not predatory. Who doesn’t like a dolphin?

  5. i always wanted to marry a penguin…they wear black and white and they are always busy…looking back (post knot tying) my brothers are like that…. now I get so nervous from them and I love my horse

  6. that is a good way to deal with it… but I still think it is demeaning…

    And while mare might mean to you “calm” “motherly” etc… you have no idea what it means to the person asking. Sure, you would explain, but they will remember the mare and not the explanation. Later when discussing it not in your presence, they will say she would be a horse and I hate horses. They are unpredictable. They can be walking calmy and all of th sudden go crazy and break into a gallop. Or whatever..
    so the question is not really fair because different animals mean different things to different people.

  7. I hereby promise I will never, ever ask this question of anyone. But if it were asked of me I’d say Queen bee. Head of the hive with responsibility to make sure everything is going smoothly. Busy raising a new generation of queens who will go out and start their own hives. Constantly on top of the worker bees to make sure they are doing what they are supposed to. I respond well to pampering with a delightful buzz. But if you bug me, like with questions about what animal I remind myself of, well I’ll give you a bite you will long remember.

  8. I’m not insulted by the question, but neither would I have an answer to it. I’m so glad that at the job interviews I’ve had they asked me about my skills and work history. I too am employed.

    Also, if you have an animal as your Hebrew name, do you have to resemble that animal?

  9. No, but if you leave your email (you can just enter it into the comment form if you don’t want it public) I can drop you a line.

  10. Honestly, I haven’t heard the animal one yet. Thanks though- now I have to go and sit and think up an animal for each of my friends.

    What if I’m just not creative like that, and therefore can’t answer it? Agh. But the chisronos one I hear. I mean, we all have them. But saying anything negative, even when asked, always sounds so wrong.

  11. um, I’m not sure that you want to describe people you like as pinguins.

    Do you know that pinguins are actualy quite promiscous? (and pay their partners?)

    better a black and white swan. at least they’re monogomous.

    But definitely not a duck. No, never a duck.

  12. If you want to stay on the safe side and you know the guy is into Harry Potter, you could always rephrase the question to be, “if your son were an animagus, what animal would he turn into?” 😀

    Juuuuust kidding. Hehe.

  13. There is a BIG difference between this and the job interview. If I ask you what animal you’d be, and give you the chance to explain it, then I can possibly learn something about your self-image. If I ask your friend what animal she’d compare you to, nothing would be accomplished. I file this together with all the other silly questions that have no right answer (see my previous rants about how anything can be spun around to a negative angle)

    I feel similarly but even more strongly about the “chisronos” question — how dare anyone put a person on the spot to list their friend’s shortcomings! I think that’s so low.

    I don’t even want to think about what animal I’d be… I’m not good at this personification thing. I don’t think they make animals like me, anyway.

  14. By the way, I love your blog. I definitely wouldn’t fare well in the NY shidduch system of today – too many “bad for” points without even trying!! Have you considered dating an out-of-town type?

  15. On a recent foray to Kiryat Belz, just outside of Jerusalem I learned that the young males of this cult refer to the young maidens (whom they can only view from afar) as swans!

  16. My shidduch chances have been completely eliminated as my animal counterpart has been determined to be either a wild dog or a wolf.

  17. if he’s into harry potter, the question should definitely be, “what form does his patronus take!”

    Same question, really! 😀 But yes, true.

    apparently I’m most like an otter:)

    So am I! Yay Otters!

  18. Apparently I am most like a rooster,

    and Mickey Mouse, a mouse? definitely not, a monkey maybe or a dolphin, a mouse just isn’t playful, funloving, loud!…

  19. I think I’m the tortoise and the hare. (yes, both)

    Or else I’m one of a rare subspecies of homo sapiens called femina hebraeus innuba. (No, I don’t really know Latin :P)

  20. Most definitely a dolphin. And as bad4 knows, I chose that BEFORE I read the post about it :)- and I chose it because they’re all over the place- flighty, I would call it. Fun loving. Creative. Capable of intense emotions. Friendly.

  21. I had a real tough time getting along with my friends, esp when they comment atr my big nose. I finally ended up with a rhinoplasty surgery. Looks like good information rolling out here. Thanks guys…

  22. Pingback: Blegh on the Brain « Bad for Shidduchim

  23. Pingback: Is Big Sister Really Watching? « Bad for Shidduchim

  24. Hello.

    That dinner looks appetizing. what vegetables are they? Is it broccoli or lettuce? or perhaps something else.

    What about a goldfish? Relaxing, quiet, lives in water, enjoys water weeds and all things wet, and forgetful. Thats sounds like good wife material to me.

  25. Pingback: Deter. Detect. Defend. Prevent ID Theft « Bad for Shidduchim

  26. Pingback: Remarkable Replies « Bad for Shidduchim

  27. Pingback: Friday Repost: Photo of Me! | Bad for Shidduchim

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s