Congrats to NEF #21

Okay, I made that number up. I don’t know what number she is. But she deserves a special public congratulations, because according to her high school teacher, she wasn’t ever supposed to get engaged.

You know how bais yaakov teachers roll. It’s all “Do what I say or you’ll never get married!” Heck, I had a Tefillah teacher in 12th grade who told us she got a shidduch call about a girl who didn’t pay attention in Tefillah class and, well, “I just couldn’t think of anything nice to say about her.”

I can’t think of anything nice to say about that teacher.

So, moving right along. NEF #21 really wanted to go to Michlala in Israel to study for a year. But her teacher told her that if she didn’t go to a bais yaakov seminary, nobody would ever want to date her.

NEF thought about that a bit. She realized that, in fact, people who study in Michlala do not comprise the entirety of the “shidduch crisis” pool. Moreover, if she went to a bais yaakov seminary, she’d probably wind up dating the wrong kind of people. The type who think like her teacher, perhaps. So she went to Michlala, learned a lot, had a great year, and now, guess what? She’s engaged!

A Sincere Apology

I owe you guys an apology.

If you’re reading this, then you’re awesome. You keep coming back, trusting me to put up fresh, interesting content, and  I have been letting you down recently. And, unfortunately, I am about to let you down even more.

A couple of years ago I tried writing a VBA program  to  simulate the dating process. When I ran my code, it got caught in an infinite loop. Taking this as a stamp of realism, I abandoned the virtual dating code and went back to reality’s dating code.  I was living in the infinite loop, going out with new guys every few months on an endless reel of first and second dates.

Well, recently, a software developer offered to help me drop out of the loop.

And I accepted.

This makes me an NEF, the butt of my own jokes, and no longer suitable to author this blog. With this post, I tender my resignation, effective immediately. Reposts will continue regularly until they reach today’s date. I sincerely apologize to everyone who is disappointed or inconvenienced in any way and wish you all the best.

PS: Since you are doubtless wondering: Blogging is both bad and good for shidduchim. Sometimes for the same shidduch.

PPS: And sometimes 42 really is the answer.

Friday Repost: Telling Me You’re Engaged

Maybe guys find creative ways to propose, but sometimes, it seems like my friends find creative ways to tell me they’re engaged.

Like the OnlySimchas Post

And the Ice Cream Invitation and the Incidentally While Studying

I assume they’re trying to be nonchalant, because honestly, it’s just an engagement. Or maybe they are afraid I will be upset. I usually am. It’s not that I’m jealous of my friend for getting engaged. It’s more like I’m jealous of their fiances, these men they didn’t know a few months ago, but who are stealing this amazing person from under my nose and (invariably) whisking them off to some foreign city where I’ll see them maybe twice in the next decade. (Why does the husband always call the city of abode? Like, always.)

Anyway, for the record, I don’t plan to tell anyone that I’m getting engaged. That way, when my grandmother calls up and says “I had to find out from someone who saw it on this website, JustSimchas?!” I can answer “I don’t know how the website knew. I didn’t tell a soul except the one who proposed.”

Proposals

“I love when there’s a story!” a friend said, upon hearing that another friend is engaged to her first, last, but not only date.

And it’s true. Everyone loves when there’s a story. “So, how did he propose?” In a restaurant over a candlelit dinner? In a park under a blooming cherry tree? On the megatron at a Yankees game? Or at terminal velocity 12,000 feet above earth? With a dozen roses? With a diamond ring? With a robotic dinosaur? With a dance troupe as backup?

Whether it’s classic or modern, whether the first hormone inspired is oxytocin or adrenaline, something as life-changing as a proposal, we feel, ought to take more than a sentence to describe. Not that I have ever met an NEF capable of describing their proposal, however mundane it may be, in one sentence. “So we were in Pizza Time. And I sort of was expecting something, you know? But he was so casual about it…”

MF#8 once vociferously disagreed with the idea of a big proposal. She seemed to be saying that the guy just feels compelled to keep up with his friends and provide the girl with a Story, while the girl takes it as an overwhelming expression of love and adoration and might inadvisably accept when she shouldn’t.

I read somewhere that while almost all megatron proposals are accepted on the spot (the whole stadium is watching), many acceptances are recanted after in private. So I’m not really worried about women being influenced in their acceptance by the presence of a brass marching band (or a monkey grinding an organ). I do agree, though, that a proposal shouldn’t be big for sake of being big. It is capital-L Lame to start the most important consensual relationship of your life with something calculated mostly to impress your friends.

After all, a Story doesn’t have to include things physically large and acoustically bold. There is the classically understated option.  My sister-in-law was quite fond of relating how Best4 proposed to her. If I recall correctly, he looked at her and said, “Shall we?” to which she replied, “Sure, why not.” Now there, you see, is a proposal highlighting how very in-tune they already were with each other. When guys say “Shall we?” to me, they generally mean “May I take you home now?” not “May I marry you.” Yet somehow she understood his meaning. Isn’t that sweet? (Unless she didn’t, and was just too embarrassed to back out after…)

Dipping into the backlog, I find surprisingly few posts about proposals. I mean, this is a blog about aspiring to proposals. You’d think they’d get more coverage. But here you go: all I’ve ever written on proposals.

When Everyone’s an Expert

People who get within sniffing distance of marriage are notable for their sudden transformation into SMEs (subject matter experts).  It is amazing, really, how only a taste of marriage can turn someone into a fount of information on the subject. Here are some of the courses available through the Marriage Department at TMI U.

The Meaning of Commitment 101

Taught by a newly ringed NEF, the meaning of commitment covers what it means to declare yourself dedicated to someone for life, no matter what. Lectures range between 5 and 15 minutes and may include an earnest entreaty not to be afraid to commit yourself; after all, it’s probably going to work out great for this NEF.

How to Just Take a Leap of Faith – Seminar

Taught by an NEF, this quick disposition covers the meaning of faith, as well as the necessary prerequisites for it. There is brief coverage of the technique of leaping, as well as some evidence provided that leaps of faith pay off. Really. Things turn out fine. They do.

These impromptu speeches by NEFs bother me the least of all the near-marriage lectures, because I know they’re mostly talking to themselves. They’re nervous, and they’re trying to assure themselves that they weren’t stupid, accepting a ring from a stranger in return for a promise to remain dedicated to them for life.

Sometimes I bait them, proposing more and more dire marriage situations, just to watch them brace themselves to remain committed, yea, e’en in such dire straits.

What bugs me more is when people who have very little experience will marriage become experts on the subject. For example:

The Simplicity of Shalom Bayis – Lecture

Presented by an NMF of about three months, this lecture covers how simple shalom bayis is to maintain. All you have to do is listen to the other person and be willing to compromise. Honestly, what’s the big deal?

How Bad Decisions Messed up Someone Else’s Marriage, a Case Study

Presented by an MF of one year, this analysis of the rocky marriage of a 3-year-old couple will dissect poor decisions they made that led to their current situation. The lecturer will detail how she and her still-honeymooning husband would never make dumb mistakes like that.

Just from sitting around in my armchair watching, I suspect it takes a year before a couple really feels comfortable enough to start taking advantage of each other. Then you have another year before they start getting fed up with each other. So you won’t be seeing any cracks until year three, unless the situation is really bad. Oddly, that’s around when MFs stop dispensing the free marriage counseling.

Of course, I don’t claim to be an expert. I’m just explaining my own theory (available in lecture series upon request), and why I’d never take serious marriage advice from anyone who hasn’t been doing it for at least five years. Ten preferred.

Otherwise, you might as well purchase my other lecture series:

Why My Kids Are Going to be Fantastic

In this course I will espouse that raising great kids is simple: all you have to do is understand what each child needs and provide it. What’s the big deal? 

Six Reasons I Like Engaged People

Lots of people hate on NEFs. They’re flighty, they’re distant, and they don’t shut up about being engaged. But really folks. Look on the bright side. Engaged people are great! For starters, they make you feel wonderful about yourself.

I mean, just for starters, you are a supremely good person for refraining from hitting them over the head. You know, like when they go into teenage angsty detail of their troubles — like that their future mother-in-law suggested that the menfolk wear matching bowties at the wedding — with the same level of apparent trauma that they formerly reserved for being reprimanded by their boss, getting dumped by a great guy, or crashing their car.

And they’re so easy to save! The sanity of an NEF hangs in the balance at all times. If you prevent that balance from tipping, you are her hero. Like when she calls you up at a quarter to five desperate because she has absolutely got to get somewhere and try on a dress tonight  or something bad is going to happen (I spaced out for that part). Honestly: the library books aren’t due yet. The bike can wait another day for its tune up. And alternatives to working late are always appreciated. It’s not a big deal! But her fulsome (and slightly embarrassing) thanks make you feel like you just stepped out of a telephone booth in a cape and tights. In a cape and garishly colored opaque tights that probably wouldn’t pass muster at a bais yaakov.

And then they’re entertaining! Sometimes it’s just observationally, as in, “This woman used to be so level-headed, but a double-shot of oxytocin has completely unbalanced her.” Or when she insists that she’s really totally normal and her NEFness is all in your head, “Yes dear, you’re totally normal. This is us sublimating our jealousy into the more socially acceptable gentle mockery.”

Also, the whole bridal industry is set up to cater to nutty NEFs. They love them and encourage them. It’s amusing to be escorted through David’s Bridal by a woman purposefully stroking your NEF’s Eness:

“You don’t have to worry about a thing, I’ll take care of everything today.”

“So have you known Him long? How did you meet?”

“This dress is like a visual love letter.”

Did she just SAY that?

It’s generally not nice — or even desirable — to mock your friends. But once your friend is infected by e. Bridus, she’s not really the person you befriended anyway. So it’s open season.

And finally, contemplation and meditation is always a worthy pastime, and NEFs offer you fodder for that as well. After all, if an NEF can get so completely dramatic about something they won’t remember in five years, you have to wonder: are you overreacting about anything in your life? What looms overly large now, but really isn’t significant in the grander scheme of things?

Consider, also, the NEF as a warning on the instability of the human psyche. You think someone is rational and self-aware. Then, next thing, they’re gushing about how sparkly their ring is (sounding rather like your 9-year-old niece), and having meltdowns over bowtie ideas (2-year-old nephew).

Makes me think I’d like to elope.