Dating messes you up.
Yes, I know this isn’t an epiphany, but I mean it keeps surreptitiously nudging the lens of your life until you wake up one morning and discover that it’s completely off focus.
Since I stopped working in a frum office, with its unique dress standards, much of the stuff in my closet hardly gets shifted for anything but dating. I mean, I’m not dressing up to go to college. And when I’m in a secular workplace it’s almost strictly collared shirts. (Good4 cracks up about how aidel I look.) So there are very few excuses for dressing up in my life aside from dating.
Which is maybe why I’ve forgotten that there’s a reason to dress up, aside from dating.
But you can’t really live like that. Only dressing up for exciting new people, I mean. What do you do when that exciting new person becomes your ordinary, boring spouse? That way lies middle-aged frumpiness. Or what if you never get married? Then you’re doomed to a dowdy spinsterhood.
Fate worse that death.
This was what I was thinking while staring at a particular sweater in my drawer that I hadn’t worn for a while. Although I do wear it every now and then, it mostly sees light as part of a First Date Outfit. It is perfect for this role because of its versatility; it looks just as right in a ritzy lounge as a coffee shop. And since it’s so perfect for an FDO, the practical streak in me prefers to reserve it for that occasion, so I don’t stain it with grape juice or wear out the elbows over a game of Settlers.
But you can’t just dress up for other people. Especially when most of them aren’t worth dressing up for. There’s only one person I have to please, and that’s me. And, I realized, I don’t do that often enough. I don’t get that pleasurably thrill of frowning at my closet, glaring at my hair, pouting at my makeup, and then twirling in front of the mirror to behold with delight: hey, I look pretty!
So I wore the sweater Friday night. I was making a statement: It isn’t an FDO, it’s just a nice sweater. And I’ll wear it whenever I feel like looking nice. So there.
Having got into the right spirit, I spent Shabbos morning doing the frowning at the closet thing, finally pulling together an experimental new outfit. The sweater might look better with a different color skirt and next time I’m out shopping I should look for a better shirt but…
“That’s really nice!” my mother appraised it with her expert eye. “You know what that would be great for?”
No, noooo. Please don’t say it!
“It would make a perfect dating outfit!”
Nope, sorry Ma. You’ve got it backwards. It ain’t a dating outfit. It’s a nice ensemble and I might just wear it on a date one day.
My lens is refocused, my focus is recentered. Life looks better already. And so do I.