Did this story happen? Yes.
Did you change any details? Minimally.
“Look, he’s a very chashuve boy and he wants to do things differently.”
I sat there listening to the shadchan’s chattery voice, digesting what he had just said. This very chashuve Brisker boy wanted to go on a beshow instead of the traditional yeshivish hotel-lobby date. He was 23 and I would be the first girl he was dating.
“He’s just more comfortable with that right now… he doesn’t like the whole Manhattan zach, with all the billboards, you know…” the shadchan continued. Yes, I knew.
“Alright, I’ll do it.”
Later that evening, my younger sister gave it to me. “You know, you’re a sucker. I would never. If he’s the type of guy that wants a beshow, I would just tell the shandcahn he’s not for me. And you should’ve done the same.”
I didn’t know how to explain to her what she was in for in 2-3 years when she would start shidduchim. That being a female in the yeshivish world sans rich father bumped you far down the list, no matter how pretty or thin or smart or kind “great personality” you were. The pickings were slim and I had to do what I had to do. Besides, I was dead-set on marrying a *true* ben-torah. Not only because I was primed to see that as the ultimate prize. But also because of all the subliminal messages I had gotten about how those were the *best* marriages.
I could still hear my 11th grade teacher telling us about her husband that just passed away.
“I heard people talking behind my back that he was a lo yutzlach, that he never had a job, and that’s why he sat and learned. But let me tell you, that man never looked at another woman in his life. I was all he ever saw.” She was so vulnerable at that moment; there was no way for us not to completely soak in her words.
“The goyim might think they know love,” I recall thinking to myself, “but all their romance couldn’t hold a candle to the ahavah and teshukah a Torah-true couple would experience.” In order for this to happen, though, the husband had to take shmiras einayim very seriously. If he gazed at other women or elbows or clavicles or the outline of a bra-strap, he would lose his sensitivity to sexual stimuli and then he would forfeit that experience with his wife. Those modern boys, they didn’t know what they were missing. Tragic. I could hear Kelly Clarkson from one of my mid-winter trips to MACYs. “For a moment like this, some people wait a lifetime… for that one special kiss…” So stupid, those goyim. They’re lucky to get that kiss once in their lifetime, but we had cataclysmic fireworks every month. Why make a big deal out of a beshow? It was a small price to pay for a man who would forever find you sexual and alluring.
He had a lean 6-foot frame, olive skin, dark hair, and slightly bushy brisker peyos. I couldn’t see his eyes because he was looking down at the table. We sat there for what seemed like a very long time saying nothing till he glanced up at me momentarily. It was a Shtisel moment; time stood still while our eyes locked and it felt as if all the light in the room was being funneled into our line of vision. He had deep brown eyes that were reflecting every one of the 200 crystals on our balabatishe chandelier. A second later he ripped his eyes away like he just touched something hot and was about to get singed. I felt my cheeks burn. I wasn’t sure what to feel. Was he going to avoid looking at me the whole time? He did the eye-contact-then-break two more times. Suddenly, I felt very powerful. Was I radiating something he couldn’t handle? I found it all very endearing, this young man who couldn’t bear to look me in the eye. “This is what they were talking about,” I started telling myself. “These are the special boys who don’t ever look at women. What did my sister know anyway.” I knew that the only way a man could control his yetzer horah was through ameilus b’torah, so that was a check.
We did end up speaking and making intermittent eye contact throughout the conversation.
By the end of the evening we were both talking like normal people and smiling, but the topics remained superficial and boring. There was nothing to dislike about him, but also not much to like. We did a second beshow type of thing two days later. When it came time for the third date, my mother insisted that we go out. “Different things come out on a date,” she declared. “You see how he drives, how he interacts with other people.”
Chashuve Brisker Boy knew how to drive. We went to some water place and had a pleasant but boring date. I recall feeling one or two instances of involuntary attraction to him, just because he was a guy and had a nice, tall frame. But I wasn’t interested in seeing him again or being around him.
“I’m afraid if we keep going out I might start liking him,” I told my older sister after I came home.
“What do you mean ‘afraid’?”
I didn’t want to tell her what I meant. I meant that there was bound to be some attraction that would develop if we kept going. After all, we did have that Shtisel moment. But intellectually, there was nothing drawing me to this guy.
“Look,” the shadchan told me the next day, “He’s a serious guy. If you want to get engaged, he’s ready. But if not, he’s going back to Israel. The zman starts in two days.”
“I don’t think it’s realistic for me to be ready after 3 dates.” After relaying the message to his family, the shadchan circled back to me and said, “This is what they suggested. He’s going to go back to Israel and if you decide you want to get engaged, he’ll fly back.” I thought it was bizarre. He wanted to get engaged to me but couldn’t miss the first few days of a zman for this life-altering decision? Did I matter only in the context of his learning? I gave the shadchan my ok. Anything to get that pressure off me. I hung up the phone and never called back.
Brisker Boy lives in Israel today with his lovely mishpachah and I’m sort of friends with his sister.
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