Minor League Pinch Hitter (1)

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.



29 thoughts on “Minor League Pinch Hitter (1)

  1. Great post!

    BTW, a bike is a yeshivish car, so no self-respecting born again would ditch his bike. How do you think my husband gets to kollel everyday?

  2. And Mrs. Olsen has dark hair, up in a bun. Nellie has long hair–but you wouldn’t mix her up with anyone else because of the constant smirk on her face.

    Yep, I know Things too. 🙂

  3. Realistically, how is YM going to find a mate? It won’t be easy. He’s a dichotomy. He can’t turn off his past just because he flipped out. Aren’t there any females flippers he can go out with?

  4. Out of curiosity, aren’t you looking for a guy who would appreciate someone who knows Things? You have complained from both sides, you don’t want a guy who doesn’t know which river you are passing and who isn’t interested in what you have to say about the architecture around you, yet you also don’t want a guy who wants you to know Things. What are you looking for in a guy?

  5. @tesyaa – Why can’t YM go out with a non-flipped out female? Is there a flaw in him that the non-flipper wouldn’t be able to handle? (A BT normally does well with another BT, though a close relative of mine married a BT and they have been married (happily) for over 25 years and have a kid who is going to be teaching in a Beis Yaakov next year.) But this fellow is not a BT but someone with a lot of passion who turned his life around when he saw that he was taught an improper path throughout his early life. A non-flipper is able to understand the culture much better and will ground said fellow in how a frum life is truly lived, and the one who knows Things will be able to bridge both worlds.

  6. Kollel wife – but it’s got to be a yeshivish bike, I imagine. And the Olsens I was talking about were the twin nebach cases.

    LHM & tzafnas – stay tuned for part two. I have no objection to guys who like girls who know Things. Unless they don’t really.

  7. In Israel they are called ‘Mitchazkim’, or you say he’s ‘Nisraf’- been burned. I.e. Gone black.

    But usually the only mention they want to make of Things is to bemoan western culture.

  8. I had to Google “Olsen twins” to see what you were referring to. So I guess I don’t know much about Things at all. I thought you were referring to the Oleson’s from Little House on the Prairie!

    Yes, the bike has to be yeshivish. I often wonder if DH would get to kollel earlier if he would walk.

  9. Princess Lea, what about how did Minos give birth to Asterion the Minotaure and how did he lock his own son into a labyrinthe ? No matter how many times I hear it, I just love this story !!!

  10. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt and it doesn’t fit. I have never discovered what, exactly, are those ‘things’ they know and want to talk about. Since I soon hear everything about all the books they read in their life (about a dozen) their fields of interest (Jewish music, playing the guitar,and the mysteries of cheap traveling) and then they seem to have nothing in particular to add to the conversation.

  11. Bad4 – This post (among others) makes we wonder why you don’t check into more right-wing YU guys, who seem to fit the mold of looking for this particular type of girl. Granted, I know social stigmas exist against guys like us, but I was never a big fan of those pre-determined negative views at any rate. Though I may know someone (who is NOT at YU, and is actually learning in Lakewood) who would fit this bill and might be worth checking out.

  12. I know and like Things too! Like what a sesquipedalianist is. I don’t like talking about Things on dates though. If you choose the wrong Thing you can strike out or worse: get a walk!

  13. VPV, how about Hercules having to clean the Aegean stables as one of his impossible tasks? I saw a spoof by Animaniacs with Hercules dancing about and whining how he can’t get his tunic dirty.

  14. SoG – nobody’s ever suggested any YUniks for me and I take ’em as they come.

    There’s such a thing as a sesquipedalianist? Is that someone who steps one foot at a time, or who uses big words?

    Aegean stables? Feh. Try cleaning my sister’s room. Now *that* is an impossible task.

    Ezzie – it does? Have I met any? [scratches head]

    And wideyed – Cyrano wrote letters. What would I do – wear a mask of someone else’s face?

  15. Pingback: Minor-League Pinch Hitter (2) « Bad for Shidduchim

  16. I have (sort of) the same problem. I too am a bais yaakov girl who knows “things”. The only difference is that I am not yeshivish- I know who the Olsen twins are, and just about any other celebrity. My issue is that when people hear I know “things” they set me up with these very dull boys who like to talk about economics (not my “thing”, though I have read freakonomics).

  17. Seems kind of dependent. Though BoSD has a list of 50 date topics somewhere. They’ve never been rated, though.

  18. Hey! I’ve also been out with guys who want to talk about economics! I’ve even gotten bad financial advice, which I was smart enough to not follow. See, the problem with economics is that even the people who know all about it don’t know what they’re talking about. I have no idea why anyone would make it their specialty.

  19. bad4- I assume what Fine meant was that a sesquipedalianist is someone who uses big words, though I laughed when I read the other possibility. The reason someone would study economics is exactly the reason you wrote, you get to say what you like and still be called an economist. I am also a bit surprised that you haven’t been set up with any YU guys.

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