A Productive Waste of Time

Every now and then I speculate about what would be a good place to go on a date. Generally I think something is a wonderful idea until someone actually takes me there.

I once suggested mini golf was a great way to see how a guy competes while having fun and moving around. Well, once I hit the course I discovered that it’s kinda hard to golf and talk at the same time. Moreover, what does it tell you about a guy when he offers to let you cheat? Or when he insists on keeping score wrong, which ultimately lets you win by about 2 points? Probably nothing. Life is too complicated for theory.

Then there was the Barnes and Noble date. I’ve been on two. When I called it a wonderful place to hang with a gentleman, I forgot how awkwardly you bend to look at books on shelves that aren’t yours. Also, that most guys don’t cover the same literature that girls cover. Which is to say, he doesn’t recognize a single book in the children’s section except Tintin, and nothing in the adults except softcover-only sci-fi novels with the author’s name splashed across most of the cover in raised neon letters while battle machines duke it out below, and the title nowhere obvious. And then there’s the fact that there are books that neither of you are going to read (or admit to reading) or want to discuss:

“So… diet cookbooks… Do you diet? Oh look! Self-help manuals! Ever tried those? And check it out: Dating for Dummies, The Ultimate Guide to Relationships, and How to Get the Girl. How about we each grab a couple and do some reading? The Kama Sutra Guide to… um, next section?”

So yeah. Being surrounded by wonderful books doth not a wonderful date make.

So, it is with greater hesitation that I suggest another dating locale.

I am a goal-oriented person. I enjoy getting things done, and I enjoy things that have purpose. Sitting in a dark but ritzy lounge and sipping a $5 water only satisfies me in as much as I’m pursuing the goal of getting hitched. But let’s face it: most dates are a huge waste of time. If only we could do something constructive! Oh, and something that involves moving. I’m not so big on sitting still either.

Which was why I complained to someone (I forget who, raise your hand to get credit) that Yad Eliezer doesn’t have a warehouse around here. Way back in seminary, some very fun evenings were spent dashing about the Yad Eliezer warehouse filling boxes. There are many exciting activities involved.

First, you have to make the box. This can be a social and competitive activity, as you both work side-by-side to knock the flat cardboard into shape. Then you have to fill the boxes. Less communication, more casual one-liners as you pass. Finally, you tape them up and survey your work. You grab the cokes you stashed in the fridge beforehand and watch them stack your boxes while you sip. At the end of the night, even if you decide that you can’t stand each other, you’ve done something useful.

So, this person pointed out that, although we don’t have Yad Eliezer, we do have Tomchei Shabbos. I have no idea how Tomchei Shabbos works, so I can’t recommend it as a dating locale. But I was wondering, does anyone else know?

30 thoughts on “A Productive Waste of Time

  1. I like your idea a lot. I also have great sem memories of packaging food with friends (and random other people, which was also fun). It sounds like a great date to me- focused yet laid-back so you have a set goal but the activity is still laid back enough that you can relax and get to know your date. Love it!

  2. Yad eliezer here I come. or some other volunteer work. like a soup kitchen. Oh, and back when I was in high school, tomchei shabbos was great at “meeting” nice girls.

    Oh… ever been to tmol shilshom near ben yehuda? Its a cafe bookstore. Kinda quaint but the books on the shelves only mean your drinks are more expensive. I mean common, are you gonna pull out a book and read quotes to each other? Or are you going to just spend undefined amounts of time ignoring each other while reading the book? Next up: Blockbuster video.

  3. I’ve had a good bookstore date. So what if I like scifi and she likes Little Women? We both should be familiar enough with some classics. And anyway, not every book is dirty or talking about dating. I think we did go to the self-help section and got a whole bunch of laughs out of what topics seem to be sought after nowadays.

    I know that some people really like the minigolf date. I never had a chance to try it, but I did do the arcade/ESPN zone type of thing once on a third date. She beat me at air hockey without me cheating for her. So embarrassing. I beat her at bowling though several weeks later. Now we’re married, and bowling seems to be the only thing at which I can almost consistently win with her… But the games atmosphere certainly made things fun. I think we would have played a round of pool but the lines for the tables were too long. I forget whatever else we did, but it was relaxed and afforded opportunities for conversation to start, stop, pick up again, etc. At the very least, the people watching opportunities are different from a hotel lounge!

    The chessed idea, though, is gold. If you’ve got something to do and your date is game, by all means go for it. Doing something together, especially doing something good together, has got to be useful for bringing people closer. But don’t drag your date – make sure he/she actually is at least passively interested.

  4. You should be dating because you want to. If you don’t want to waste the time, if it would be better spent on something else, then don’t go on the date. I mean it.

  5. Not sure about in BK, but where i live Tomchei Shabbos has separate nights for boys and girls, so one of you may have to play dress up. Of course, if he’s down for that, he’s quite the catch, so its a pretty good test…

  6. Not gonna work for a couple of reasons:

    1) Tomchei Shabbos will not want boys and girls hanging out together on their account (even though you might be seriously dating – they won’t be able to account for other people who might use them as an excuse to be wit members of the opposite sex).
    2) when will you talk – after 3 hours of doing bixes you will be tired, maybe irritated and in no mood for the idiotic conversation pleasanteries that pass as date conversation
    3) what date will you do this? Not the first few, because you will not want to bee “seen” on a date. Later dates don’t need this option.

  7. WSWG, maybe Tomchei Shabbos should have Date Night. Kind of like a lounge scene replanted. Kosher environment and you’ll be seen by other dates, but who cares. You might be tired but it could be from exhiliaration and accomplishment, versus boredum. I think it’s a great idea, Bad4.

  8. Bad4 – Sounds like an interesting idea. Did you ever write a post about being “seen” on a date?

  9. Guys know about Tintin? Very rarely will a dude know about Herge’s creation. As a proud owner of the entire series (including two versions that had not been previously released in the US due to stereotypical imaging) usually I’m the only one who knows of it. Great bar mitzvah gift.

    Your issue is perhaps less of a need for usefulness rather than boredom. As one who has had only one lobby date, I do sympathize. If you were goofing off in a non-dating capacity and wasting time but having fun, I doubt you would say that a Quaker-like perspective is needed by the public and outlaw pointless frivolity.

    Therefore we can extrapolate that you simply do not enjoy the dating experience, and are unjustly condemning the dating venues. Some of us (meaning me) do not loathe dating. I like meeting new people, having a conversation, even if he’s not my . . . well, there were no couples in Tintin (except for Thompson and Tompson) so no metaphor available.

  10. Tomchei Shabbos and Yad Eliezer are pretty similar. Except there’s a lot more throwing food into the boxes @ Tomchei Shabbos ‘cuz it’s smaller than Yad Eliezer so the boxes are hard to reach. I had a blast doing Tomchei Shabbos in high school, but I don’t think a Tomchei Shabbos date would fly in Boro Park!

  11. Some fun date sites from my (sordid ???)past: Rockefeller center ice rink in winter( watching, not skating) archery range, FAO Schwartz , Shakespeare in the park-the hours long wait for free tickets is quality get-to-know-you time, NY planetarium, NY Flower show at the piers, USS Constitution Ship tour, The Beast (a speedboat version of the circle line-**note to anyone intrigued by this-please warn any woman before you take her out to this so that she can be dressed appropriately, Planting Fields Arboretum, Fire Island ferry & picnic.

  12. Yad Eliezer…! It’s a special place. 🙂

    Great idea – although, you do realize there’s a lot of awkward bending involved in packing boxes, right?

  13. Princess Lea –

    I’ve got a couple of brothers whose sole reading careers are based on the Tintin series.
    It was literally the only thing my mom could get them to read for years – until Harry Potter came out, that is.
    But I don’t think Bad4 went out with any of them…

  14. Tintin is the only thing that prevented murder in my house on Pesach (nephews were quiet). Bless Herge, even if his priest mentor was a Nazi sympathizer. Did you know he based Castafiore on his wife (whom he eventually divorced after an agonizing struggle with his Catholic faith? That’s when he wrote “Tintin in Tibet,” as the snow symbolized the purity of soul he was seeking).

    Okay, I saw the documentary.

  15. i live in london and recently i received an email from an organisation that does a lot of chesed programmes. they had an evening packing boxes for charity but just for singles. i thought that was a brilliant idea too!
    and i love tintin! i am a girl but my brothers introduced tintin to me.

  16. Great idea about the chesed date but wrong time and place. This is the Brooklyn where having males and female singles sitting together in someone’s home for a shabbos meal is a no no. This is the place where the rabbanim of Brooklyn threatened Touro College before it arrived in the area that they wouldn’t last two minutes unless they swore that males and females would be required to be in school on separate days and they could not, under any circumstances, even be in the library at the same time. The chesed part is irrelevant to those who set these kinds of rules: male/female interaction except for that in the highly circumscribed shidduch world is not to be encouraged according to their dicta. The fact that you are suggesting this on a blog on the Internet also puts the idea beyond the pale to many of these people. After all, what kind of frum person gets on the Internet except for maybe being forced to do so in an office setting?

  17. I actually had a great Barnes&Noble date. You just have to be with the right person. It can really show where a person’s interests lie (especially if you’re with a shy person who doesn’t volunteer this information explicitly; you can see what books they gravitate towards). If you have different interests, so what – doesn’t everyone? – you can still discuss them. And if things are going well, you can spend some time in the travel/tourism section checking out destinations for your next date!

  18. NMF14- I definitely have done the B&N date. Just like any venue it sometimes works and sometimes fails horribly. Even FAO Schwartz can be a disaster if you go there with the wrong person. Re: travel/tourism section -That is definitely a great thing to do on a date. I have done that a few times and it always went well. One suggestion though, don’t play table tennis on a date. Also, I am not convinced that a chessed date like that (tomchei shabbos) is a good idea. There is a lot less time to talk and get to know each other.

  19. B&N is a hit or miss date. I have had a great time once going through the dangerous book for boys/girls, Dr Seuss, and a Machlokes in Harry Potter on a date. Although, once you reach a certain point in the dating, you dont care where you hang out whether its a lobby, starbucks, or her living room.

  20. B&N can work if you’re with the right person. I once went out with a girl who was also into fantasy novels (she was also a Mets fan, but that’s a different issue……), although we did end up discussing classic novels. So I’ve outed my reading interests………… the fiction one’s anyway.

  21. Another way to make use of unsuccessful dates would be to find some way to harness that awkward vibe energy and convert it into electricity…. 😀

    @Princess Lea and other Tintin lovers, which books would you recommend to start with? Or are they in a specific order? I limit myself to a small monthly comic budget, but would like to add one to the queue….

  22. Strongly recommend something in chessed – in Israel, helping out in the Meir Panim and Chazon Yeshaya soup kitchens can be a lot of fun!!!
    However, a shared activity (albeit with others), should perhaps not be a first date; there needs to be a little understanding between the datees if they are not going to spend the date just in each others’ company.

  23. YES! YES! YES!

    Being involved in chessed activities is a wonderful way to connect with somebody, and is a tremendous ice-breaker. In my year in Israel, I took part in a program called Nitzotz, which provided American volunteers to a variety of Israeli social organizations. Many a wonderful friendship and quite a few lovely shidduchim resulted.

    Leah D: I’ll agree with the wating for Shakespeare tickets (I always felt that the personalities on the line were often better than the show), but be careful with which production you’re catching! I made the mistake of taking a date to a VERY non-tzniut “Troilus & Cressida,” and she didn’t let me forget about it for quite some time…

  24. Ooooh, StupidInventor, there are so many good ones . . . if you would like to save money, they came out with 3 Tintins per volume, which can also find on Amazon. Individual Tintins are about $10, but per volume about $15. The first one, “The Blue Lotus,” is a good place to start. The only one that’s really odd is “Cigars of the Pharoah,” which is either Lotus’s prequel/sequel, I’m not sure which, but it’s not very necessary as it seems as though Herge was high when he wrote it.

    I pretty much love ’em all.

  25. I have packed boxes for Tomchei Shabbos. In the 5 Towns/ Far Rockaway, generally, they are packed in TAG (girls’ school) the high school girls usually do it during the school year, but during the summer, they are often not around. So some of us old married pitch in and bring children along, which sometimes include young boys. No one throws men out, but the ones there are usually married one volunteering to deliver the boxes to the homes. The Pesach packages are a big to-do. So you have all types of people gathering in that lot on a Sunday before Yom Tov to pack up huge quantities. It is not a quiet place conducive to conversation beyond asking how many bags of potatoes, etc. are on the list.

  26. For something different, you may want to try cherry picking during the summer or apple picking in the early fall — no bending down involved. For inexpensive dating ideas, watch for a series of free and very low cost outings in New York and the area coming up on NY Jewish Bridal Examiner.

  27. @Princess Lea
    Ok, I added Volume 1 to my Amazon Wish List, but I already spent my self-imposed comic book allowance for the month. I got this excellent book reprinting all of the famous Jewish cartoonist Milt Gross’s comic book work (http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Milt-Gross-Comic-Stories/dp/1600105467/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1268789791&sr=1-1)

    And I bought the Marvel Essentials: Marvel Two-In-One! 30 reprinted issues of “The Thing” (Who’s one of the only Jewish superheroes, I have the comic where he says Shema) teams up with other Marvel heroes! (http://www.amazon.com/Essential-Marvel-Two-One-TPB/dp/0785117296/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1274224714&sr=1-1)

    Both books are perfect for some Shavous afternoon reading… Chag Sameach! 😀

  28. I’m a big fan of the Barnes and Noble date – I actually have a “Dating Study Case” in the vein of the one I wrote about Dave and Buster’s (http://walkingthegreyline.blogspot.com/2010/02/dating-case-study-dave-and-busters.html) in the works. Maybe I’m just more well read than other guys – so while we do go through the “I like sci-fi/comic books and you like subject x” we always end up on the school reading section (which invariably is full of “classics”). I’ll count off the titles I’ve read as we browse, which is usually around 70-80% of the books there, so we often enough have something to talk about. The travel section is EXCELLENT, especially if one (or both) are from out of town – plus there’s always the fun “Weird (State)” books that tell you all kinds of fun/creepy/cool stuff even *you* didn’t know about your own state. More to come on my blog (I hope, in the near future).

  29. Pingback: Thursday Link: Oh Please! Let’s Do It! | Bad for Shidduchim

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