There is a scene oft reenacted in the homes of young yeshivish couples in communities across the eastern seaboard.
The lead actor, Young Man (YM) is a young man of a more modern background. As a teen, he wore a sharp, pinstriped suit. He rode an expensive mountain bike with about 50 gears over the very flat route between his house and high school. During the height of the fad, he could do things with a yo-yo that would make your eyes spin. Until recently, he gelled up a chup so magnificent it would shame a Shetland pony.
Then he went off to yeshiva in Israel and did what is commonly referred to as “flipping out.” He returned to the USA to continue his studies in a yeshivish setting, where he wears a black suit, wouldn’t be caught dead on a bike, trims his hair close in front, and laughs condescendingly at everything about his former self. If I had to label this particular breed, I would call them minor-league BTs.
(Just for the record, I got that one from a shadchan. When I tried to explain the irreconcilable difference between my date and I, she’d said, “Oh, like BT syndrome.”)
The supporting roles for this drama are played by a married couple, the male of the pair being a friend of YM. This friend is an upstanding young Talmudic scholar who met YM in yeshiva and finds him an interesting source of general knowledge combined with a good gemarakup and strong yeshivish values. The friend’s wife (FW) is an aidel bais yaakov maidel who has wanted to support a long-term learner for as long as she can remember, and is currently very happily doing so.
YM is over for a Shabbos meal. In between complimenting the FW on her culinary triumphs, he laments his shidduch woes. He goes out with so many wonderful aidel maidels, but the conversation just doesn’t flow. Their middos and chesed and tznius are great, but they just don’t know Things, so what is there to talk about?
There is sympathy all around the table.
“What you need,” Friend tells YM, “Is a nice bais yaakov maidel who knows Things. There are some out there, you know.” They both turn expectantly to FW, who is mentally skimming her high school and seminary class lists.
“You know,” she says slowly. “I think I might have a girl for you. I was in high school with her, so you know she’s an aidel maidel, but she knows Things. Let me call her and see if she’s interested.”
Which how Sunday morning my phone rings and it’s a high school classmate I haven’t heard from since… probably before graduation.
When looking for a bais yaakov maidel who knows Things, these classmates invariably dredge up my name. After all, I’m a BY grad, with all the education and many of the hangups of one. And in addition, I know Things. I know where Sri Lanka is. I know that van Gogh cut off his ear. I know who wrote the Brandenburg Concertos and I think that some of Poe’s best stories are his comic ones. But I’m aidel enough that I don’t know too many Things. I can just about pick the Olsens out of a lineup with Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise, but if you threw in another long-haired blond I’d be stymied. So I’m the perfect date for a yeshiva guy who wants to be able to talk to his dates about Things.
I get called in for Conversation Duty so often that I think I should make a business out of it. I’d approach Women in Black at weddings to offer my services.
“If you ever have any guys who want to be able to talk about Things on a date, just send them my way,” I’d say briskly, handing over my card. Naturally, if I made a shidduch for any of these guys, I’d request shadchanus.
But it’s not likely to happen any time soon.