How Segulos Work

A few weeks ago, someone forwarded me an email about how eating seven meals erev Yom Kippur is a segula for… I forget. It might have been absolutely everything, but it definitely included getting married.

“Are you serious?” was my e-reply. I mean, all you have to do is click the “segulos” tag in the cloud on the right to see what, exactly, I think of segulos.

“I don’t even get how people can believe this stuff,” Good4 rolled her eyes. “I mean, what exactly do they think is happening here? Hashem is sitting up there going ‘Good4 isn’t ready to get married yet, I’m going to send her bashert back to Israel for another year. Oh wait! Look! She’s eating seven meals erev Yom Kippur. Well that changes everything. She’s ready to get married right now. Cancel that ticket! Put the change toward the band.”

When I mentioned it to an MF on Sukkos, describing my opinion of it in rather stark terms, she said, as someone was bound to, “Well it can’t hurt.”

“Sure it can,” I argued. “Last I checked, being svelte was an actual tried and true segula for getting married.”

“Hasn’t worked for you.”

“No segulos work on me. I’m lima’ala min hasegula.

“We’ve tried every segula to marry Bad4 off,” Mrs. Shidduchim agrees. “And she’s still on the ‘Not Ready’ list.”

“Yes, but you haven’t tried this one,” the MF pointed out, playing devil’s advocate. “You could be engaged in six months!”

“I could be engaged in six months anyway. That will prove only one thing: that dating is a segula for getting married.”

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Are Weddings for Kids?

Why I want to elope (or at least have a backyard barbecue wedding).

Is it just me, or do older singles look more bored at their weddings? It’s like they’ve realized that the wedding is empty pageantry, paying homage to social norms, and they want to finish this minor step and move on to the important business of being married.

Or maybe they just have boring weddings because all their friends are sitting on the side, highly pregnant, or have already left because their babysitters were waiting and their husbands were bored, and the only people dancing are the uninvited 19-year-old girls who came because they heard it was a chesed wedding for nebach an older single who didn’t have anyone to dance with her.

Sigh. It is just a tad nebach

Myself: I never liked dancing. And I don’t like crowds. And being stared at. In fact, I can’t think of any particular aspect of the traditional Jewish wedding that sounds appealing.

Here’s my idea of a great wedding:

Buy a kesuba. Walk into a random OOT shul after Mincha one day and perform a quick ceremony. Then call home to let your parents know. (Or you could let them know before you elope. It’s kind of antithetical to the idea of eloping, but your parents would probably appreciate it. They can be in cahoots, and feign dismay at not having a wedding to plan. Nobody has to know.)

Then you can organize sheva brochos with all the people you want to celebrate with: the friends, the family, the parents’ friends, whatever.  It’s just supper, so nobody has to dash out early, and there’s no dancing to get pathetic, and no do-gooders waving pagan symbols of fertility at you. (Seriously. What’s up with that?!)  You get to spend time with the people you like, instead of just 30 seconds swapping brochos at the reception and another 30 seconds dancing.  Plus, even if you sponsor every sheva brochos meal yourself, you still can put a healthy remainder toward your mortgage.

NMF#19 said she always wanted a block party wedding. Some hot dogs in the back yard, everyone milling around licking mustard off their fingers. The mesader kedushin with sauerkraut in his beard. Bride in a white shirtwaist dress. A happy, relaxed event to the sound of laughter and the clang of barbecue tongs on grill. I was really looking forward to it. But then her mother-in-law happened.

It’s always the mother-in-law, isn’t it?

That is the thing about marriage. It involves other people. Getting along with them and compromising and so on. And somehow, everyone winds up compromising in favor of the jello-mold wedding, not the barbecue. Go figger.

Does anyone want to elope with me? Or, better yet, does anyone have a mother who wants them to elope with me?

I Scrubbed My Brain, But the Stain is Still There

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that a guy called a friend to ask about me, but insisted on remaining anonymous.

He wasn’t completely anonymous, though. Based on his questions, I pegged him as dead-on yeshivish. And based on his area code, he was apparently from Monsey.

And I have a problem with yeshivish guys from Monsey.

Someone who self-described as “yeshivish” solicited a friend on a (admittedly skeezy) Jewish dating website.

Now, whenever I hear about a possible match with a yeshivish guy from Monsey, I wonder: could that be him?

I know this soliciting sleazebag is about 31 years old. I know he still lives with his parents. While that’s not enough to identify a secret skank beyond a shadow of a doubt, it’s enough to cast a shadow on a very small population subset.

Is that good enough reason to refuse to go out with 31-year-old yeshivish men from Monsey who live with their parents?

Thursday Link: Things Not to Say to a Single Woman

I enjoy it whenever someone reminds the world that being single and female is honestly not the worst thing that can happen, because it’s really not.

Of course you don’t have to say things to insinuate it. I was recently at a classmate’s wedding. You know, the one who officially makes me the 10-percent forever single. I met a truckload of long-lost classmates, all wearing black, all busy working in some sort of therapy (occupation, speech, physical, mental). Somehow a few of us wound up in conversation with an even older (married) woman in black who spoke about her single days, crammed in an attic with other singles, living on leftovers from their dates.

“We had such good food every night, and we didn’t appreciate it,” she sighed. “When you’re single you just don’t appreciate these things.”

I was immediately jealous that her dates were so generous with the food. Mine, although usually employed, rarely spring for dinner. (And I, with the unfeminine ability to devour an entire entree and then peek at the dessert menu, rarely have leftovers to bring home.)

“I appreciate it!” I protested. “Sometimes the food is the best part of the date!

I immediately felt an uncomfortable shift, and when I glanced at my classmates they were gaping, rather. Had I taken the conversation into awkward territory? Had I done the  equivalent of declaring that “I love chemo! You lose so much weight!”?

The conversation broke up after that, although I suppose it would have broken up faster if I’d just nodded and smiled: “Yes, singles don’t appreciate the goodness they have.” 

For the record: We do! At least, I do. I appreciate everything about being single – my parents would say too much. And when a fellow takes me out to eat, I definitely appreciate that too.

It’s always nice to hear someone make singlehood sound like the good old days. It sure beat when they make it sound like a terminal illness. Which brings me to the link: Things you really shouldn’t say to single women. (Link goes to Huffington Post.)

 

Does Age Matter?

I happen to agree with the message of the video. People who get hung up on slight differences in age are, quite frankly (imho) stupid. (Sorry, friend who won’t date someone even a few months younger.) But then again, is it different than getting hung up on hair color or something like that? Dunno.

Anyway, the fact that it needs saying is kind of embarassing.

Oh, and the rest of it. (Is it assur for Orthodox Jewish men to powder their noses for the camera?)

Just Go With It

This week I found myself far from home for Shabbos after a Megabus failed to arrive. Don’t weep for me: instead of Washington Heights, I wound up on the Delaware shore in a beach house. My major crisis was that I’d packed NYC clothes, and had to choose between wearing sneakers or 3-inch-heels to the beach. Seuda Shlishis was to the sound of a bunch of middle-aged men in Hawaiian t-shirts plinking away at 70s rock with various string instruments.

Havdala, though, was an issue. Short a candle and anything that smelled particularly nice, we walked out to the nearest shul to listen in. There was some curious  peering over the mechitza during ma’ariv (tsk tsk, gentlemen. Haven’t you ever seen women before?), and then everyone retired to the back for the ceremony.

It was a sonorous one. The rabbi had a pechant for chazanus. But finally he finished. “Ah gutteh vuch, ah freilichen voch, a mazaldikeh voch,” he wished his audience. “Ah shidduchdikeh voch,” he nodded at us.

We nodded, smiled, and headed out.

“I’m affronted,” I murmured to my friend.

She rolled her eyes.

“Oh stop it. He saw three pretty young women and singled us out for attention. When he doesn’t identify you as matchable, then you should start to be offended.”

Okay. Point taken.

Wednesday Controversy: Must We Have Offspring to be Fulfilled?

This is excerpted from How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran. It is in no way an endorsement of the book or its ideas (many of which I disagree with), nor a recommendation that you go out and read it (it’s sort of PG-13). I didn’t know it was some kind of feminist manifesto when I picked it up; I thought it was the manual nobody gave me at high school graduation. It wasn’t (and I still haven’t got my copy), but it was still a good read.

I found this excerpt interesting, coming from a mother. It states aloud some things I’ve suspected for years, watching many of my friends become mothers. Since it’s been quite a while since someone overtly told me that I don’t know anything about anything, I think it’s time to stir up some mud:

[Having children] is the easy option for women.

Because if you have children, at least people won’t keep asking you when you’re going to have children.  For some reason, the world really wants to know when women are having children. It is oddly panicked by women who are being a bit relaxed about it: “But your body clock!” it is apt to shout.

And if a woman should say she doesn’t want to have children at all, the world is apt to go a bit peculiar:

“Oooh, don’t speak too soon,” it will say—as if knowing whether you’re the kind of person who desires to make a whole other human being in your guts and then base the rest of your life around its welfare is a breezy “Hey—whatever” decision.

…It’s not simply that a baby puts a whole personful of problems into the world. It takes a useful person out of the world as well. Minimum. Often two. Before I had my kids I was politically informed, signing petitions, recycling everything down to watch batteries. It was compost heap here, dinner from scratch there, public transport everywhere. I rang my mother regularly. I was smugly, bustingly, low-level good.

Six week into being poleaxed by a newborn colicky baby, and I would have happily shot the world’s last panda in the face if it made the baby cry for 60 seconds less. Nothing got recycled; the kitchen was a mess. My mother could have died and I would have neither known nor cared.

Every day I gave thanks that both my husband and I were just essentially useless art critics.

“Imagine if you and I had been hot-shot geneticists, working on a cure for cancer,” I used to say gloomily.

“And we were so exhausted that we had to simply give up the project. Lizzie’s colic would be responsible for the death of billions.”

…We think of non-mothers as rangy lone wolves—rattling around, as dangerous as teenage boys. We make women feel that their narrative has ground to a halt in their thirties if they don’t “finish things” properly and have children.

Men and women alike have convinced themselves of a dragging belief: that somehow, women are incomplete without children. As if a woman somehow remains a child herself until she has own children. That there are lessons motherhood can teach you that simply can’t be replicated elsewhere—and every other attempt at this wisdom and self-realization is a poor and shoddy second. Like mothers graduate from Harvard, but the best the childless [woman] can manage is a high school equivalency diploma…

…No one has ever claimed for a moment that childless men have missed out on a vital aspect of their existence and were the poorer and crippled by it…

…It’s worth remembering it’s not of vital use to you as woman. Yes you could learn thousands of interesting things about love, strength, faith, fear, human relationships, genetic loyalty, and the effects of apricots on an immature digestive system.

But I don’t think there’s a single lesson that motherhood has to offer that couldn’t be learned elsewhere.

While motherhood is an incredible vocation, [a mother] has no more inherent worth than a childless woman simply being who she is, to the utmost of her capabilities. To think otherwise betrays the belief that being a thinking, creative, productive, and fulfilled woman is, somehow, not enough. That no action will ever be the equal of giving birth.

Let me tell you, however momentous being a mother has been for me, I’ve walked around exhibitions of Coco Chanel’s life work, and it looked a lot more impressive, to be honest. I think it’s important to confess this. If you’re insanely talented and not at all broody, why not just go and have more fun?

Besides, she concludes, single aunts make great short-order babysitters.