I See, You See, We All See Me

I was in another town for family Shobbos sheva brachos. What could be better: no food to prepare, no dishes to wash… just travel time and socializing with cousins. And, of course, being seen.

It didn’t start off that way. But Friday afternoon when my mother said, offhandedly, “I hear there’s a shadchan down the block – interested in going to see her?” I looked at my mother’s hopeful face and sighed. “OK, I guess one can’t hurt.”

Ever hear the saying, “Give a finger, lose a hand?” Sometimes it just pays to stand firm about these things.

Friday night my mother gestures me over to a table where she’s talking to a woman I’ve never seen before, and I bet she hasn’t either. “I’d like to introduce you to my daughter, Bad4,” she says. I try my best to look like amiable and not disgruntled. My younger sister is fond of telling me that when I’m even mildly annoyed I look like I want to kill someone. Not a great way to greet strangers. So I smooth out the crease between my eyebrows and give my best Duchenne smile. We go through the blah-de-blah about what am I doing now and that’s so nice and what are my plans? She didn’t ask what I’m looking for. Big relief on my part, but also irritating—she had no intention of setting me up, so why was I standing there making small talk? This happened once more, instigated by my father this time. And it would have happened a third time if I hadn’t left shortly after bentching. “I was singing your praises and wanted to point you out but you’d left,” complained the parent. “Sorry,” I lied.

The next morning after davening I was sprawled on my sister’s bed factoring polynomials in my head (That’s what happens when you pack in a rush and have only a precalculus book as entertainment) when my sister rushes in. “What are you doing here? Get moving! There’s a shadchan in shul! Aunt Tzivya is talking to her but she might leave soon!” I groan and roll over, close the book, and look around the room for my shoes. I locate them and propel myself off the bed in their general direction. I slip my feet in and then fumble with the clasps. My sister is dancing with impatience. “Hurry-hurry-hurry!” I look around for my coat. Where is the blasted thing? Maybe I left it in the other room. I head in that direction when my sister yanks me back. “Your coat’s over there! Hurry up!” I turn toward it while my mother walks in. “Maaa! Bad4’s just walking around in circles doing nothing!” my sister complains. I finish yanking on my coat and march over to her, fist raised. “Would you mind very much if I punched you in the nose right now?”

She looks at me blandly. “Of course I would! Why would you want to do that to me?”

I brush past her and head to shul, mother at my side. As we approach, a cousin stationed in front of the shul jumps and waves, “This way! They’re in there!”

“Ma,” I growl, “This is not what I signed up for. I refuse to do this again.” No answer. “And I mean it. Are you listening?”

“I’m listening, but I don’t understand what you object to.”

“The fuss! This is practically a military operation. If it wasn’t Shobbos there would be relays with walkie-talkies!”

My mother rolls her eyes, but as we enter the doors another relay of cousin directs us to where my aunt is gesturing at me to come-come-come.

“Is there a cliff nearby?” I ask quietly. “I’d like to jump off.” My mother smiles indulgently.

The shadchan, it turned out, had married off a perennially-dating second cousin of mine. She hadn’t known him at all; had bumped into him going into a shul and figured he was about the right age for this other girl she knew so why not set them up?—turned out she was wrong about the age, but they didn’t find that out until after the first date, and now they’re happily married, which goes to show that this woman is so good she can make shidduchim with her eyes closed, which is supposed to fill me with confidence that she’ll get me married off even though our meeting mostly consisted of me listening to her “war stories.”

“You need to talk about yourself more,” disapproved my mother afterwards.

“I don’t like talking about myself,” I muttered from within my coat. It’s not a matter of modesty, per se. I think I’m better than about 50% of humankind. I just don’t know what to say about it. It’s a terrible handicap in our modern times, but so is being a white non-minority. You live with it.

By the time lunch was over I’d been introduced to two more strangers. Seuda shlishis added another to the list. Where did my parents find these people? Nor did the travails end with Shobbos, because apparently none of the shadchanim I’d yet met were “the shadchan down the block.” So motzai Shobbos had me hauled around to two more women (one down the block, one not) who at some point in their lives had successfully made a shidduch and thereby became instant celebrities in the singles world.

“You make a good presentation,” one said, after giving me the elevator eyes.

“Why thank you,” I said graciously. “It was a group effort; I’ll distribute the compliment accordingly.”

OK, I didn’t.

19 thoughts on “I See, You See, We All See Me

  1. Very, very droll; great post. Guess it takes a village, eh?

    Wait! I know, I know (waves hand urgently):

    Just to mess with their minds a little, tell one of these self-styled shadchanim that you would like it very much if *she* would go out with the boy’s shadchan (didn’t she know that he has an agent too?) This would cut out waste and inefficiency, not to mention the middleman/middlewoman.

    After a few dates between the shadchanim, and after a few negotiations about ring/bracelet size, goose down pillows, etc., then you’ll meet the guy and sign some papers.

    Because, hey, if the brokers want their fee, they are going to have to work.

  2. Please tell me she ment presentation in terms of your talking and social aspects…

    Thats what I first thought but then thinking about the “elevator eyes”… oh the thought makes me sick.

  3. I understand your furstration, I truly do.
    Been there, done that, still do it.

    So, what’s your better idea? Serioulsy.

  4. I have been told that even if a young woman & young man meet “on their own” and decide that they have each found the love of their life, they still have to have an “official shadchan” to legitimize things. Is this true?

  5. For a community that professes the importance of tznius (hatznea leches anyone?) this type of ‘being seen’ and ‘self-promotion’ is so hypocritical…

  6. Wow… I’ve lost count… HOW many people did they introduce you to in one weekend?!

    Look on the bright side: at least your family is generating interest. Imagine if you had to find your own dates, with your parents doing everything in their power to thwart you. It does happen.

  7. Comment number 12, Elitzur, your modesty reminas intact whether or not you see one million shadchanim or twelve- they are entirely independant of each other.

    Bad4, this was a hysterical article. Very well written. Torturous to go, through, but as Flatbush gal said, I suppose we should appreciate other people’s efforts on our behalf. After all, I’m sure in twenty (or even two or three, who are we kidding) we’ll be doing the same thing ourselves.

  8. Why didn’t you say that? She would’ve at least remembered you and maybe set you up with a funny guy so you could at least have a fun date or two.

  9. You did it again, Bad4. You’re a great writer!!

    I also know of a Shadchan who can make shidduchim with her eyes closed…she mixed up two people with the same name. One of them was my cousin — who is now married with two kids to the girl who was supposed to date the other guy with his name.

    I was also “introduced” to her on numerous occasions.

    Elevator eyes, “turn around,” and ugggggghhhhhh.

    Glad you behaved yourself. Musta been hellish.

    Good thing you have good self-esteem, otherwise experiences like that can possibly shatter a person.

  10. Pingback: Friday Repost: Operation Marry Off Bad4 | Bad for Shidduchim

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