Sometimes I think I have a very thick skull. Things don’t get through very easily, though once they’re in, they rattle around for a while before I can get rid of them. Engagements rarely register before I see the engagee (or their floating heels) in person. As a result, I am incapable of behaving as I’m told I should behave when I hear that someone is engaged.

I had very little contact with my first engaged friend at the time of her engagement. So I heard she was engaged, said mazal tov, and proceeded to forget about it until I found myself at her wedding thinking, “Oh my goodness! She’s getting married!”

I did a drop better by Friend #2, but not considerably so. I was in middle of walking downstairs when she called and said, “Hi, I’m engaged.” I paused mid-stride to absorb this interesting piece of information. “Now why did you go and do that?” I asked.

In case anyone here thinks it’s a cute line and that they’ll try it on a friend one day, it isn’t and don’t. We made up three days later.

Anyway, I was racking my brain for the file labeled “things to say to someone who’s just told you that they’re engaged” and found it empty. Luckily, by then I was in the kitchen, and my sister, getting the gist of the conversation, yanked the phone from my hand and did the screechy-dance you see girls do when their friends get engaged. She asked all the right questions and hung up for me, after which my entire family roundly lambasted me for “keeping it a secret” for all of 30 seconds.

I don’t know what they were upset about. I’m not exactly histrionic at my noisiest. I can confidently declare that I will never jump on a chair and screech at a mouse. One my mother thought a mouse was invading a cabinet. I opened the cabinet and – serendipity – caught it red handed. It jumped from shelf two to shelf one, and my fist, apparently on its own, reached out to pin its tail. A split second after my brain kicked in and asked, “Is this wise?” to which my fist replied, “Does it matter?” Luckily I missed. My mother heard the thump of contact with the shelf and asked, “What are you doing?”

But apparently a bit of screech is expected, so I did a drop better by Friend #3. About a week earlier she’d mentioned an idea for a practical joke that included insinuating engagement on her part, and I had guffawed heartily because, ha – it was a good one. So there we were, about to start studying, and she’s flipping to the right page. “Hold on… a sec… found it. OK, ready? Oh wait – I almost forgot. I’m engaged.”

I laughed, figuring this was another joke. “Engaged, eh?” I leaned back in my chair. “Since when?”

“Last night, 11 pm. I know you go to sleep early and wouldn’t want to be disturbed for something like this.”

“Yep,” I agreed. “I wouldn’t want to be woken for news of my own engagement. But seriously…” Then I paused and considered the conversation. “Wait a sec – you are serious, aren’t you?”

“Yes, very.”

Having learned my lesson well, I asked her to wait just one minute, put the phone down, went to the stairs and bellowed, “Friend #3 is engaged!” There was a lot of shouting and door bursting as a response, but I was back at my desk asking some of the questions I remembered my sister asking after Friend #2. Maybe there’s something wrong with me, but I really don’t care who set them up or where he was born or any of the other stuff people ask. The important point is that a friend is happily engaged. The exciting part is seeing her shiny eyes and listening to her gushy conversation. Especially the part where she says (invariably) “I’m not going to be ‘engaged’ so don’t you dare accuse me of it.” To which I have learned to roll my eyes and say, soothingly, “No dear. You’re not the slightest bit ‘engaged.’ Nobody would guess, that’s how cool and with-it you are.”

So the way Friend #6 handled her engagement last night was perfect for me. (Disclaimer to Friend #6 if she’s reading this [which I doubt, because she’s currently commuting above the traffic lights, and probably can’t reach something as terrestrial as a keyboard]: not #6 in importance, just #6 in engagement lineup.) I was chatting with her sister when she popped on to ask me over for ice cream motzai Shobbos. When I said I couldn’t make it, she handed the phone back to her sister. “She was inviting you to her vort,” her sister explained. “Really? Mazal tov,” I said. “Now, what were we saying?”

I must be getting faster on the uptake, though, because by this morning it had sunk in. I gave her a ring. She assured me that she has no intention of acting “engaged” and that I should slap her if she ever lapses into it. If I’d taken her seriously, she would have been a fitting poster model for the abuse hotline advertisements before 9 am this morning.

Engagements. So much fun. But no screeching necessary.

If nobody got the idea: the singles club has shrunk by one. Party time!



  1. I always thought the point of those questions- who set them up, where is he from- is for the engagee, not you. She wants to be asked, she wants you to share in her simcha. So, humor her!

  2. Oh. I thought they just wanted to get on with making phone calls. Catch ’em a day later and you can get them jabbering without any prompts at all.

  3. Hehehe. I never had much trouble with the proper reaction to these things. Then again, that’s because I (usually) really am happy for the friend in question and have no problem showing my unbridled enthusiasm.

  4. I say I am in between the screeching and indifferent reactions. When my close friends get engaged, I usually have so much notice that I know it’s happening way before it actually does. And if stam someone I know gets engaged, while I’m thrilled for her, I won’t do the screeching act at all. I can identify with the family being insulted that I didn’t tell them earlier. I always have that!

  5. HI! On behalf of friend #6 I would like to say that her announcement was very well put. Would you rather say I am engaged, come to my vort or hey, would you like to go out for some ice cream? Anyway, I hope that you guys (you + friend #6) continue to have a good relationship in the future. Mazal tov! And here it comes: IY”H by you.

  6. Agreed. No screeching necessary. Don’t need high pitched yelling to show how happy you are. A nice ‘Mazal Tov’ usually works. Or, if the news is coming from someone else (about a friend) the reaction can be anything from ‘Huh’, ‘As if you woke me up to tell me that’ to ‘No waaaay!!’, ‘Mazal and Bracha’ and ‘Seriously. Like we didn’t see that one coming.’

  7. Yeah I decided I’m gonna stop doing the screech act. It feels so much better to smile and say mazel tov with regular old sincerity. and ah..the questions. I’m usually asking them to a friend whose older sibling got engaged and I actually like asking em-I’m quite good at shooting out the key ones: How’d he propose, what’s his/her name, how’d they meet/who set them up, where’s he/she from, please list all schools he/she has ever attended, how long have they been going out, where do his/her siblings go, do you get along well with said future sibling-in-law (a personal addition) , I usually do those first.

  8. it’s funny how the4 frum world egagement happens like a severe medical diagnosis, winning a lottery or a horrible accident. Nobody knows a thing and suddenly she’s getting married. How do they keep these public things secret

  9. On another note, Bad4, I thought of a great idea. I see that you’re running a contest amongst yourselves as to who can gain the most bad-for-shidduchim points. Being that there are several guys here, how about arranging a contest as to who can gain the most points for going off-script in the dating process. My favorite is accepting the parents’ offer of soda and cookies, which is practically unheard of, as they’re intended purely as a formality …

  10. I’m definitely a non-screecher. I don’t screech in general at anything. It’s just not in my nature. When someone tells me they’re engaged, I smile and say, “wow, mazel tov!” and that’s about it. I don’t ask any questions, either.

    What’s especially awkward is when I’m speaking to a friend and she slips into the conversation that a friend of hers who I might know or have heard of is engaged. Something like THAT I never know how to respond to because it goes like this:

    Friend: So I was speaking to A who, by the way, just got engaged…

    *Expectant Pause*

    Me: *Waits for rest of sentence and slowly realizes it isn’t coming until I react* Oh! Er…mazal tov?

    Meanwhile, in my head: “I don’t even know A. Why is she looking at me like I should be overjoyed? Am I supposed to say something else besides mazal tov?”

    And it isn’t like this happened once. This happens a LOT.

  11. Another great post…You should add Screechy aka yabbering on only simchas.com, which despite not being on it when I got engaged and married, still manage to get my picture up at various weddings etc.

  12. Another post that made me chuckle appreciately. You are an excellent writer, and I really think that you should do some journalism on the side. 😉

    But anyway- I do shreak. Well, it depends. Some people I am like, oh, ok mazal tov. Wow. And if it is a good friend, and a shocking announcement, I may do a little squeel. *hides*

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