I once heard Disney Classics described as tales to scare children so they don’t wander too far from home. Certainly the Grimm brothers’ tales can be quite frightening at times. Well, if ever there were tales intended to keep young ladies trembling behind their parents’ aprons, it is the Shidduch Urban Legend genre.
The shidduch urban legend is a frightening tale about a maiden who falls into the clutches of an evil ogre and has to be rescued. That’s the basic outline. I first encountered the shidduch urban legend in high school. They are the deliciously frightening tales that girls tell each other in the dark late on shabbaton nights, when everyone is too full of sugar to go to sleep yet even though the evening’s program has ended.
But they became socially sanctioned in seminary, when a teacher actually gathered us together to warn us of the dangers of going into the shidduch scene without the assistance of able parents, trained in private-eye investigation techniques. The first one she told was of the girl who married a ‘top boy,’ so fine and aidel, who, promptly after sheva brachos, locked her into their apartment and made her carry out his OCD whims like lighting 100 candles every erev Shabbos.She was eventually rescued by a close friend in a daring escapade that involved a fire escape. I think. I might have written that part in myself to round out the excitement.
A terrifying tale indeed. I think if she had told it in a deep spooky voice behind a crackling campfire deep in the woods in middle of the night it might have been more effective, but not too much. “I’d like to see any guy keep me prisoner when he’s providing me with matches,” I muttered to the person next to me. But when my friends started getting married I found myself keeping tabs on them to make sure they didn’t mysterious disappear, have apparent sudden regrets, or otherwise display signs of having married an obsessive-compulsive control freak.
The other story that I still remember was the one about the girl who was about to marry a best buy and such a mentch and so thoroughly researched. As a just-in-case her parents dialed around all the references again just to double check. Everyone affirmed that he was such a perfect guy.
“They may be getting engaged soon,” the parent informed the roommate reference. “So if you have anything to say, say it now, or the results will be on your head.”
The roommate affirmed that really, this fellow was a pleasure to know, and the couple-to-be blissfully careened toward their engagement.
Well, the next day a sleep-deprived roommate called back. He simply couldn’t have it on his conscience. Future-Groom wasn’t a pleasure to know. He was a verbally and physically abusive antisocial personality who shouldn’t be permitted power over a cockroach, let alone a sweet young lady. He just thought they ought to know this before the engagement.
The moral of the story, obviously, is that you can’t trust anyone to tell you the truth about anyone. But that hasn’t stopped me from insisting, with wide damsel-in-distress eyes and clasped hands, that my parents always contact a roommate to make sure I’m not dating a suave psychopath. Not that my dates are all that suave, but maybe he’s a really slick psychopath who can even feign sheepish awkwardness. But actually, their very imperfection is the most relieving thing about them.
Because the other moral of the story is that best bochurim and perfect guys are nearly always going to turn out to be psychologically messed up. I mean, have you ever heard a shidduch urban legend about an ogre who didn’t come highly recommended? No, it seems quite apparent that marrying a top guy is a recipe for disaster. Thank goodness I don’t generally rate top redts.
So here’s my question: do guys get fed this stuff too? If so, how does the evil enchantress manifest herself?