Part 1 of 2: Whose Date is This Anyway?

“He’s here,” announces my sister. I don’t know exactly why she’s in my room—not her stated reason anyway. Her actual reason is because my room has the best view overlooking the street, and she’s date-watching.

“He’s early!” I frown, checking my watch. I tend to have these things timed down to the minute, and I hadn’t put on my jacket or switched my wallet and keys into my Shobbos coat yet. I join her at the window. I manage to spot a beat up blue sedan parking in front of the neighbor’s house before my sister yanks me down. “He might see you!” she hisses. “Go turn off the light.”

“I’m getting dressed—d’you mind?” I ask.

“You don’t need the light to put on your blazer,” she points out. I obediently turn off the light.

“He’s just going to sit there for the next seven minutes anyway,” I say. When she asks why, I explain that there’s still two minutes until 7pm, and guys are supposed to come 5 minutes late.

“Why?” she asks, all naïve youth.

“Because they know girls need extra time to futz in the mirror because nothing is ever quite right,” I explain.

“But you know he’s coming late…” she ponders, “So you can schedule in five extra minutes of futzing.”

“Basically. But then there’s a need for an extra five minutes because once you plan in the extra five minutes it’s not extra any more.” That is the ostensible excuse for the girl coming down five minutes after the guy walks through the door.

She turns back to the window and is startled to see that indeed, Mr. Date is making a call on his cell phone. “That’s crazy, Bad4!” She declares. “These rules are crazy.” I just smile.

At exactly four minutes after 7, Mr. Date strolls out of his car and meanders up the walk to our house. I scoop up my coat and shoes and head down the first flight of stairs to the second floor. It’s hard to walk quietly on wood stairs in high heels, so I prefer to be positioned where I can make my grand entrance with the least prelude of clatter.

And now begins the silent struggle. Not completely silent. More like a hissed or whispered struggle between me and my sister over when I go down.

Earlier that day my father put in a request that I not do my “foot tapping” thing when I come down. Meaning, coming down and leaning quietly against the dining room entranceway waiting for them to finish torturing themselves and the poor guy so we can go on our date. I stand because I can’t sit when I’m impatient, but I never realized that my body language was screaming “Can we get out of here please?!”

“I’m just trying to spare you extra moments of agony,” I explain. “I’m the one going on the date. No reason you should spend more time sitting around with nothing to say.”

“I have plenty to say!” my father protests.

“Are you changing your shirt?” my mother calls from her room, where she’s applying a smidgeon of makeup.

“Why can’t I go on a date without the entire house going on a date too?” I complain.

A Persian friend of mine once asked me, “Did you ever have a guy meet your family?”

“Besides the usual first date stuff?”

“What? I mean ask to meet your parents.”

“They do when they come to pick me up.”

“No, I mean come in to talk to them.”

We continued talking past each other for another 5 lines or so before I realized that her dates never went through this “mini-date the parents” business. I explained that my parents small-talk the guy before we even get a chance to dislike each other. She thought that was weird. “You Ashkenazim,” she said in that superior way Sephardim have when talking about their strange Northern European brethren.

Part 2: View from the Top of the Stairs

18 thoughts on “Part 1 of 2: Whose Date is This Anyway?

  1. It’s not all sephardic–I dated a lot from my college dorm and my parents never had the “mini-date” with my date. Even when I did date from home, I felt it would have been much too awkward to have my parents talk to the guy first, and I was always out the door in about 30 seconds. Besides, they really trusted my judgement and I was glad for that.

  2. Ya, in my circles the guys don’t come in either. I live with some other girls in an apt and the guy pulls up in front and then calls when he’s there. Oh I pretty much act like your sis when my roommates go out…. except without the naivety. And I don’t think I’m as annoying.

  3. I heard/read that a guy should arrive a few minutes late as a way to test the character of the girl – if she mentions his tardiness, expecting an apology, a big no-no…

    Personally I don’t subscribe to that school of thought – you shouldn’t be trying to trip them up; it’s hard enough as it is!

  4. I’ve never heard any of my friends going on shidduchim thinking talking to the parents is awkward. I met my girlfriends parents pretty early on too, such jolly people…

  5. In my circles it’s totally the opposite–you only meet the parents when things are starting to get relatively serious. My parents have yet to meet a single date of mine…although dating from the Stern dorm was a little like going on a multi-person date, what with the date-watchers spying from the windows. These days, if I’m getting picked up, I wait until he calls and says he’s downstairs and then leave my apartment, or if we’re meeting somewhere, I just show up and look for a guy who looks like he could be my date. (No, I’ve never gone out with the “wrong” guy because of this, so no funny stories.)

  6. Yishkon–okay, I failed that one, but I don’t wanna marry someone who’s that much of an ass before I even meet him.

    When guys show up late without a call, apology, or even an excuse, it’s plain obnoxious. When they do that, I ask. They say, “no reason.” I don’t like it.

    Why is it so hard to call? Or at least apologize.

    I’ve gotten many awkward “I-don’t-know-you-but-i’m-leaving-you-a-voicemail” messages, but I think that’s the right thing to do.

  7. The most awkward part by far is when I get conflicting signals as to whether or not this lovely “mini-date” is over. Last time, after a few minutes of small talk, the bas melech prances in and, after a few moments, the father makes the classic light tap on the table and says “arright …” But while the bas melech is standing there impatiently and I’m gearing up off the chair, the rebbitzin pipes up and says something like “so there are a lot of shuls in your neighborhood?” Priorities, people!

  8. Michelle – I don’t disagree about apologising for arriving late, but I think it’s a question of how late. According to the theory, if she demands an explanation for being 3-5 minutes late, it’s very telling. We’re not talking about being ten or more minutes late. Of course, the theory doesn’t account for yekkes. Who should probably only marry “in”; or even only date “in”.

    CG – my personal most awkward moment is after the date has begun; you open the car door for the girl (I hope..), so she’s already in the car. You then have to get in with her watching you. Naturally, you sit right on the tail of your coat or your jacket, so have to jump around re-adjusting. Most elegant.

  9. I was actually wondering about that also. There was a guy I went out with recently who came half an hour late on both the first and second date. I was wondering if it said something about his character and if I should say something… I didn’t and he came on time to the third date. Not that it mattered, he turned me down. Whatever, on to bigger and better things. I guess.

    What do you think though? Is it normal not to say anything to explain why you are a half hour late twice? jw…

  10. half-hour? Apology and explanation MANDATORY.
    If you’re the type who doesn’t have pre-date phone calls,I guess no call nec. bec. he’d have to call the shadchan to get your number, what if the shadchan isn’t home….

  11. As a YU guy who occasionally dated girls from Brooklyn, I was subject to the mini-date. Not believing myself to be an axe-murderer, I was fine with it. I think the whole thing is absurdly silly, of course, but it can be a benign experience, with one or both parents just getting the feel of the guy’s persnality. That’s OK. What’s not OK is insisting that it be done that way – one set of parents left a wedding early just to meet me on a first date (my date was not at the wedding) – had I known they would do that, I probably would have not scheduled the date for that evening! I had no idea they couldn’t rely on their daughter’s good judgment and allow her to go on a single date before their meeting me. (This was not a shidduch case – I had asked her out.)

    And as far as the lateness thing, everyone had a tolerance level, but the guy needs to call if he’s gonna be more than ten/fifteen minutes late.

    And this is a first I have heard about mandating being late. I have done the hanging out in the car thing when I arived early, but then I went to the door exactly on time. No, I not a yekke, but a appointment is an appointment. Stop playing games.

  12. Heh heh- you guys don’t know what goes on in BP! (that’s Boro Park)
    Let’s describe it- in BP, a mainly Chassidic community, the parents usually meet the boy for a meeting without the girl. Sometimes, the mother of the boy will also meet the girl more casually. (ya know- girl to girl thing) Usually it’s just to get a feel of the boy- by the time the shidduch has gone through, they are pretty certain he’s ok.

  13. im sfardi and i date sfardi girls…most dont expect you to meet the parents right away…some do, i actually enjoy meeting the parents to an extent.

  14. Pingback: Part 2 of 2: The View from the Top of the Stairs | Bad for Shidduchim

  15. could be the guys dont realize this, but if a guy is consistently late- he is sending messages that she isnt that important to him- and that is SUCH a turnoff

  16. Pingback: Friday Repost: Whose Date is It Anyway? | Bad for Shidduchim

  17. Pingback: Repost: The Whole House is on a Date | Bad for Shidduchim

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