What Most of My ‘Suggestions’ Sound Like

Don’t you love the way people always have the perfect guy for you… and don’t know a thing about him? I sometimes feel like certain people just automatically think “smart, offbeat – hey, let’s set him up with Bad4!” That might be enough for them, but it’s not really enough for me.

Person: I have a guy for you, Bad4.

Me: So tell me about him.

P: Well, he’s really smart.

Me: Really. How?

Now, I ask this because experience has taught me that “really smart” can be roughly translated as “ability to talk about things I don’t understand.” The exact smartness level indicated is then a relative variable dependent upon the knowledge base of the speaker. For the average special ed teacher, for example, “smart” can mean “he took Intro to Physics and won’t let anybody forget it.”

P: At the bar mitzvah where he met my brother, he was talking about how the band could save money by turning the vibrations from their music into electricity.

M: Hm.

I say “Hm” because I’m not exactly impressed yet. What kind of obsessive geek subjects a captive audience to his hair-brained electricity-saving scheme? And if he were really smart, he would have spent the bar mitzvah sketching the final blueprint on a napkin and avoiding red wine so his shirt would still be white for his meeting with the venture capitalists the next day.

The truth is, I’m sorry to say, too many people with science and math degrees are just big-mouthed show-offs. I’ve heard solid C-students brag about impressing girls at the bar by telling them that their glass of beer is really just a triple integral. If these girls had taken the multivariable calculus course they’d know that this brilliant line about beer glasses is the most basic piece of information you can come out with – liking “cells are the building blocks of life” from bio class.  But they haven’t, so they think these guys are uber-clever.

P: (sees I’m unimpressed) He’s getting a PhD at Cooper Union.

Me: Hm!

On the one hand, “Cooper Union” is a pretty decent indication of smartness. On the other…

Me: Cooper doesn’t have a PhD program.

P: Well, he’s doing something advanced in anthropology there.

Uh oh.

Me: They don’t have an anthropology department.

P: Well, it’s something like that. I’ll find out for you. So do you want to go out with him?

Me: Um… Well… you haven’t really told me anything about him.

P: Well, what else would you want to know?

Me: Is he a mentch? Does he learn? What does he want to be when he grows up? Where’s he from?

P: Oh, I’m not sure. But that’s research stuff – you can find out after he’s looked into you.

Me: Then what exactly are you asking me here? Would I be willing to consider a guy who is smart and who may or may not be pursuing an advanced degree possibly in anthropology or else in Cooper Union? Yes. I’d also consider a guy of average intelligence pursuing a degree in advanced vocal arts at the Julliard School. That’s not make-it-or-break-it information.

P: Okay. I’ll get back to you then.

P is never heard from again. Possibly it’s because I’m being a difficult, unreasonable single. Or maybe she couldn’t find him again.

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21 thoughts on “What Most of My ‘Suggestions’ Sound Like

  1. That is exactly the same types of scenarios I go through with shadchunim but with girls, and at which point they just tell me about the girls parents and say “really nice family” or send me the girls profile/resume. It still doesn’t tell me things like what she cares about such as what is in my head vs on my head (or anything truly relevant).

    Lovely dating system we have.

  2. Waitaminit! When did “he goes to Cooper Union” become a major selling point? Back in my days (when dinosaurs roamed the Albert Nerken School of Engineering), saying “Cooper Union” resulted in one of two reactions:

    1) “Where?”
    2) “Cooper Union? What a nerd! No thanks!” (The possibility of a frum person being in Cooper’s art program was apparently never considered).

    And describing a beer glass by a triple integral is child’s play. Describing the beer bubbles through differential reaction-diffusion equations, on the other hand… (and I wonder why reaction #2 was so prevalent…)

  3. Without being so smart I have the same problems. People focus on something that they found interesting about said person and try to make the whole sales pitch based on that (even if you would be able to recognize ‘that’ better than them 🙂 ).

  4. oh bad4, oh bad4, I have a match for you. He’s handsome, he’s tall, well that is from side to side. But he’s a good match, a great catch! Right? Right!

    Just saying, this isn’t a new phenomenon…

  5. Ha, you’re so right. The worst part is that when you try to clarify the situation, people seem offended that you are contradicting them and not particularly interested in getting the facts right. On the other hand, singles drop the ball too. I set up a guy with my friend, and for a month the guy played a half-hearted game of phone tag. Finally, I sent a male friend after him, and the male friend reported that the guy was moving out of the country in a few months (and not to Israel!). You’d think the guy would tell me this before I set him up!

  6. Hey, I’m a straight, happily married man and based on what you’ve recounted, *I’d* like to go out with this fellow! He sounds more interesting than your average date. I mean, aren’t you looking for someone a little different…maybe someone as comfortable and interested in discussing the laws of nautical physics as they are about more prosaic topics? I will admit that the lack of info about ambition, temperment and upbringing must be frustrating. But you’re being difficult (wags finger chidingly). Of course, that’s your prerogative…

  7. The reverse story is even worse: “she is pretty and malei chen, Mr. Ivy League Too Smart For His Own Good!!! What more should you care about?! Nu? Yes or no?!

  8. being difficult with clueless shadchanim is priceless. its the only fun you are allowed to have with shadchanim. They think that the one aspect of the personality they see in you, is the aspect that you want to see in your match.

  9. Smart does sometimes mean being able to yap about stuff I could care less about. Then I’m guilty of doing that to annoy people.

  10. If I could interject a serious inquiry on this tangent, what experiences have you had when telling a Shadchan that you seek someone insightful and perceptive, whose worldliness, wisdom and intelligence you may rely upon, and who compliments and covers your own personal deficiencies and weaknesses rather than duplicate them? And is drop dead gorgeous or it’s female equivalent requirement? It has been years now, bur I vividly recall a major Shadchan literally quitting on the spot! It was only a matter of weeks later, however, that I met my partner for life at the cholent kiddush my Shul, visiting friends for shabbat. The verbalization goes a long way.

  11. Ari – you can have him. Should I call the shadchan to set up a date? What if he *can’t* discuss more prosaic topics? Will you still like him then?
    Leibel – so you’re one of those annoying people. Yick.
    B4 – Not if the top of the glass is wider.
    Elie – Some do. And I change loads of details, sometimes to the detriment of the tale.
    FRAC – er…

  12. I agree that it is not rare for people with math or science degrees to be stuck up or occasionally show off-y. But, in my humble opinion anyobdy who has taken biochemistry or differential equations has got to be smart lol. In my organic chem class, tons of people got a C- or a D their first time around. We generally consider other majors to be “fluffy”. But I guess each person has a diff. view.

  13. word. i flew off the handle once when a yale-grad friend said she took some fluffy “history of science” class to satisfy her science requirement. in addition to technical coursework, i had to take real humanities, and am expected to write and communicate as well as liberal-arts majors. you know how many times i’ve been yelled at for being a snob, especially when i reference “boring” technical subjects in conversation?!

  14. On the flip side, I love to ask singles what they mean when they say they want certain characteristics. The answers are quite similar.

    In addition, it’s not easy to describe someone. You know them well enough to say that what you’re saying is true, even if you don’t have a specific example to back it up. Granted singles don’t trust shadchanim because too many of them lie, but it means that the honest ones have no interest in setting people up because all they’re met with is skepticism and attitude from people to whom they’re trying to do something for. Good matches will only come from trust and communication between the singles and the people setting them up – ironically, the same traits that are needed to get married.

  15. Ezzie- it is a mere accident of fate that you are not currently one of the “singles”. if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem, and that leaves you with no right to judge, patronize, or otherwise rank yourself among a “superior” class. if shadchanim lie, that’s everyone’s problem. an altruistic person acting as an interested intermediary between two upstanding, decent parties (who may very well have no communication issues) understands why s/he is mistrusted and strives to right the situation, not blame these same parties for his/her lack of interest.

    like i’ve said to shadchanim of organizations where people pay for their volunteer services- where i come from, paying without any guarantee of a return is called gambling. at least in a casino, the odds are known. there is a problem with the system, not necessarily one of its constituents.

    in summary, “trust and communication” take two – ironically, the same number that is needed to get married.

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