It’s entertaining (at least for me) to compare my dating of today* with my dating of yore.
The first ever date (FED) is a high-tension event. But it doesn’t take too long before you become an old pro, and hardly break a sweat at the thought of going out.
For my (FED), I wanted to know all about the guy beforehand. So did my little sister. So we sat around the kitchen table listening to my parents reel off the many details about him that they’d accumulated through assiduous investigation.
The most recent time they suggested a fellow they had to dig me up from among my books.
“He’s a medical student finishing his Ph.D thesis while learning in yeshiva,” my mother enthused. It was the only thing she knew about him, and she had learned it from the shadchan.
“Mm-hm,” I said, paying far more attention to the problem of figuring out how far ahead a mouse would set a clock if it jumped on the end of the minute hand pointing at five past.
“He sounds bright,” my mother offered hopefully.
“What’s his name?” I asked.
“Um, well, his last name is… I have to go check.”
As for my sister, well, she didn’t ask a single question except “Did you enjoy?” afterward.
For my FED, I was startled to find out how different the real guy was from his paper persona. For my most recent date, I didn’t care, but I found out anyway:
A week after I was informed about my medical suitor, I was told that an official date had been set up. I was also handed an official crib sheet so I would know his name and vital stats.
“It’s a match made in heaven on paper!” my father raved, waving the crib sheet at me.
“I’ve dated a few of those guys already,” I answered, unimpressed, taking the sheet. In his own words, the medical guy wasn’t a doctor finishing a Ph.D – ‘merely’ a master of science finishing his graduate degree. I don’t know how the shadchan managed to mix it up like that.
For my FED, I pushed the inevitable date off half a week because I needed time to cram the hows and whats. How to dress? How to act? When to come down? What to do? What to speak about?
For my more recent date, I tried pushing it off two weeks claiming midterms. That didn’t fly with my mother. Or my father either.
“You really want to get rid of me, don’t you?” I grumbled.
“Are you kidding?” agreed my father. “I can’t wait for him to take you!”
I glared. He added, “Out.”
For my FED, a week ahead of time we called my aunt, who has five daughters, three of them married, to find out what I should wear. When she suggested a nice sweater, I pointed out that my cousins lived in a different community because I knew I had to wear a suit. My question really was, how black of a suit? How formal/dressy/nice? I made an anxious phone call to my Shidduchville correspondent and then spend an evening trying things on for my mother.
For my medical-cum-scientist date, I wasn’t sure what I was wearing until about an hour and a half before zero hour.
“What are you going to wear?” asked my mother.
“Not sure, maybe a nice sweater.”
My mother got to preview me only a half-hour before the date. “Oh, wow, you look nice,” she admired.
“It does happen occasionally,” I pointed out. She adjusted my sleeves, told me to put on a necklace (I have a memory block on that article of jewelry), and that was that.
For my FED, I waited impatiently for the doorbell to ring. Then I crept downstairs and stood near the top of the landing, waiting with my eyes on my watch. My little sister had already staked the claim with the best view. When precisely 3 minutes and 25 seconds had gone by I couldn’t stand it anymore, and went down, against my sister’s protestations that I ought to wait 4 minutes at least.
For my most recent date, when the doorbell rang I went down to the second floor and was distracted by my sister who was trying to get rid of Vista’s sidebar. “Shouldn’t you be going down?” she asked after I’d been fiddling for a few moments.
“Just a sec,” I clicked and typed and clicked again. “Done. Yes, I’m going.”
On my FED, we ended up in the almost non-existent lobby of a local hotel. Everyone going in and out gave us a knowing smile. I cringed. More recently, we ended up in another locale frequented by hordes of people, a number of them religious Jews, and I didn’t turn a hair. I was on a date – so what.
But some things just never change.
For my FED, I wondered, “How am I supposed to know if I really want to go out with this guy again?” If he isn’t charming and isn’t repulsive, what do you say? How many dates do you give a guy to fall into one of those categories? When do you get to decide that you’ve been wasting your time… or otherwise? And, oddly enough, the same thoughts occurred on my most recent date.
But then again, some things do change.
After my FED, my parents ambushed me upon my return, and I was pressed to come up with an answer before work hours the next day. This time, nobody accosted me or grilled me upon return, and the next morning my mother told the shadchan that I was probably studying but would come down when I got hungry and she’d ask me then.
And back again, some things don’t change… “So, do you want to go out with him again?” asked my mother both times.
“I suppose so,” I answered, both times. I couldn’t think of any reason why not.
*The use of “today” is figurative, meaning “of the current times.” It should not be understood to mean that I went on a date today, or will go on one today, for all the yentas in the readership.