Why I Don’t Speak to Shadchanim

…because, these days, sometimes I can’t help but sound like the crazy old lady I’m doomed to become.

I have not willingly sought out a shadchan in years, but for some reason they’ve been calling me these days. The following conversation was transcribed about 10 minutes ago. I admit, I was cranky. I was overtired, had half a cupcake for supper and I was trying, unsuccessfully, to make sense of the fees on my 401k. Not really the best time to get a phone call that goes like this:

Me: Hello?

Him: Hi, I’m a shadchan. Can you hold on?

Me: Sure, I guess.

Him: Thanks. [disappears for a few minutes] Hello, thanks for holding.

Me: Yeah, no problem.

Him: So I got your information from another shadchan and I have a few questions. Are you still 26?

Me: No, I’m 27 these days.

Him: And what do you do?

Me: My Job.

Him: I see. So are you looking for a more modern guy?

Me: I don’t know what that means.

Him: I mean do you want someone who is more modern.

Me: I don’t think we’ve been properly introduced. Can you please explain this to me? Like, what’s your name?

Him: My name is My Name.  I’m trying to complete your profile so I can set you up.

Me: [In my head] I really don’t think that is going to happen, if you divide your guys into “more modern” and “less modern.” [out loud] I guess I’m looking for a YU type. Halachic Man, not yeshivish.

Him: Left wing YU or right wing?

Me: [sigh] I don’t know.

Him: Moderate, then.

Me: Sounds good. I’m all for moderate.

Him: And your parents? Are they the same as you?

Me: I… [to myself] Is this question objectively objectionable, or is it just me?

Him: I mean, are they to the left or to the right of you?

Me: [to myself] In family pictures, it’s one on either side. [aloud] I guess to the right?

Him: Hm. Okay. And you live OOT?

Me: Yes, I do.

Him: And your parents are there too?

Me: No, they’re IT.

Him: Oh, where IT?

Me: In Their Neighborhood.

Him: Is that Flatbush or Boro Park?

Me: Neither. Or either, if you prefer.

Him: I’ll put down Flatbush. And why aren’t you there?

Me: Because my job is here.

Him: Oh I see. And do you have relatives out in OOT?

Me: No.

Him: You board? Have an apartment?

Me: An apartment.

Him: And are you willing to relocate?

Me: No, not really. I like it here.

Him: [doubtfully] So I need to find a guy who is willing to relocate. Or maybe somebody local… Hm. I don’t know.

Me: [ticked off by the implication that no such people can be found] Tell you what, if he’s got a better job than me, I’ll consider moving.

Him: What’s your salary?

Me: Decent.

Him: Decent for a woman is not very much.

Me: Excuse me?

Him: Well you know, women get paid less out there.

Me: [snappishly] On average, when both the man and woman have the same job. But seeing as most of the last dozen guys I went out with were all unemployed or underemployed or employed in low-paying fields, it really seems unfair that they all expected me to relocate.  Seriously. Even the 35-year-old living with his parents because he can’t afford his own rent. I think he planned to house us both in their basement or something.

Him: Well, okay. I’m glad I have your information. Don’t call me, I’ll call you.

Me: No fear. Thank you. Good night.

Him: Good night.

Sometimes, I think, you can gauge how likely you are to get a good match from a shadchan based on the sorts of questions they ask. I once had a conversation that went like this:

Him: [To wife] What do you think of NerdyGuy? I taught him in middle school. He’s single now, in Touro, studying accounting. Brilliant boy. So many ideas. He once brought in a kiddie pool for a carnival game and carried it all the way home on his head! Can you believe it?

Me: What’s wrong with that?

Him: Exactly!

Me: [sigh] Sounds like a great idea.

Rate My Shadchan

We care what people think of us. No matter how often we’re told that it doesn’t matter. We still care.

We care because it’s a lie that it doesn’t matter. Of course it matters! Those people who are thinking about you are thinking about whether to hire you  or invite you to their event or set you up with their aunt’s second-cousin’s niece. Image control is important, and you need to know what people think.

Luckily, there are so many ways to find out what people think. There’s YouTell.com, in which friends can give you “anonymous” feedback on yourself. (“You smell!”, “I like the way you eat spaghetti so neatly.”) And we have good old fashioned RateMyProfessor for telling the world what you think about your instructor for higher education.

Let’s face it: people love leaving feedback. We use the letters to the editor column, the guest books at museum exhibits, Amazon product reviews, and the “leave a comment” button online liberally. Why are we so eager to give others anonymous feedback? I imagine it’s because we know that, in their position, we’d appreciate the constructive criticism.  After all, without our personal feedback, how will they ever improve.

Doubtless.

But sometimes there just isn’t a feedback mechanism in place. Take elementary school teachers for example. How can a student safely provide feedback to his/her teacher? There is no way. And, more relevant to this blog, what about shadchanim? How does a single let the shadchan know that he/she completely rocks or, alternatively, does the exact opposite of rocking?

It was this problem that troubled Dented Skull, and let him to propose a solution, which I will publicize here.

Why not set up a RateMyShadchan.com?

On this site, one would rate the shadchan experience from 1-5 on several parameters. Some of these might be:

The visit –

Private/smooth/pleasant (5)  – to –    (1) interrupted by small children and cakes in the oven

The interview –

Broad but focused on what’s important to you (5)   – to –    (1) Just to check you out and box you in

The interviewer –

Listened and understood (5)   – to –   (1)  Pretended to listen/argued/contradicted

Feedback –

None or a few delicately phrased suggestions (5)   – to –   (1)  Provided harsh or negative criticism

Follow-up –

Within two weeks with a match (5)  – to –  (1) Haven’t heard back even after leaving messages

Matches (if applicable) –

Dreamy, wonderful dates (5)  – to –   (1) Offensive, completely off, or none

Note: there will be no chili pepper rating.

Does this idea have some merit, or is it just an excuse to vent against innocent do-gooders who can’t please picky singles?

I don’t know, but either way it sounds fun. Any web designers want to give it a try?

Explanation Requested

Can someone please explain to me why people want to know in which shul my parents daven when doing shidduch background checks on me?

This question is inconvenient to answer because, living in Brooklyn, they are thoroughly surrounded by shuls, which pop up not just in large edifices with stained-glass windows, but also in random basements and converted houses on residential streets. Aboding as they are in this Garden of Shuls, they take full advantage of the smorgasbord. My vague understanding is that my father rotates between three preferred locations, although I don’t know if this is divided by “shacharis, mincha, ma’ariv,” or “Shabbos/weekday,” or is on some kind of weekly rotation.  The womenfolk in the family stick with only one (it being equipped with a balcony).

I honestly couldn’t name all relevant synagogues. Nobody calls them by their names anyway; rather, by the name of their rabbis. Most of whom slip my mind at the moment. And who aren’t even known in the first place by the vast majority of Jews in Brooklyn, let alone OOT.

Truly, it doesn’t concern me from where my father comes home from shul, so long as he does arrive. And most weeks, it doesn’t concern me at all. Because I’m not there. And haven’t been. For a while.

So what does it have to do with me?

How to Recognize a Pants-Skirt Match: Tipoff #1

You’re told that you’re perfect for a guy, and then you’re given a list of qualifications you need, none of which describe you.

Example:

Woman in Black (WiB): I have a boy – I think he’d be perfect for Bad4!

Good4: Great! What’s he like?

WiB: He’s smart and funny.

Good4: That’s just what she needs. How old?

WiB: Thirty.

Good4: That’s in her range.

WiB: Perfect! Ask her if she’d be interested in a snorkel equipment manufacturer.

Good4: Sure, I’ll find out tonight.

WiB: The family is very well connected, if you know what I mean. She can dress well, right? And be very social with strangers?

Good4: We-ell, yes…

WiB:  Polite and diplomatic?

Good4: Um.

WiB:  Charming, outgoing?

Good4: So… why did you think this was perfect for Bad4?

Friday Repost – You Make Me Feel Three: A Taxonomy of Shadchanim Who Should Not Exist

Most people try to be polite. Being polite means not saying things like, “My dear, you are a hopeless cause. Don’t bother sending me your shidduch information because there is no chance on earth that I will find anyone willing to marry you in this lifetime.” Instead, it means saying things like, “Yes, of course! I have boys over every Shabbos. Tell me what you’re looking for so I’ll know if any of them are right.”

When I was young and naive and took people’s words at their literal value, this led to frustration and hurt. Now I can usually tell when both I and the shadchan are going through the motions: me dutifully visiting a shadchan in the hope that it counts as hishtadlus, and the shadchan dutifully interviewing me so as not to hurt my feelings.

For all that, I have actually received about six dates from the 40 or so would-be and professional shadchanim that I have visited, called, emailed, and filled out questionnaires for. I give them due credit and thanks for at least trying.

Yep, That’s Why I Blog

From a young friend, recently back from seminary, first attempting to land a date, and finding it less than intuitive:

“I wasn’t fully prepared for it at all. I mean, I’ve lived independently for two years now, go to college, make my own meals, I’m responsible for my own health and other important decisions, but I can’t assert any measure of control over my dating life? It’s just so weird and unsettling. And it isn’t romantic at all. Not that I’ve been on any dates yet, but still. It doesn’t feel nice at all.”

Tell me about it. It’s an odd feeling to be a highly capable human being, trusted with life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, drinking, gambling, voting, and huge responsibilities at work, but unable to get a date on one’s own power.

Effort is commensurate to return in so many aspects of your life. And yet, on this very key subject, you’re entirely helpless.

You pay the rent to live like you’re grown

You’re never behind on payments for your phone

But you can’t pick out a date on your own:

You must wait for an idea from the shadchan.

*

At work you spend $40k before lunch

Your boss calls for you when he’s in a crunch

But you can’t get together with a boy for lunch

Without the suggestion of a shadchan.

*

You sock cash away in your 401k

You pack healthy brown bag for lunch every day

You attend a shiur and live the right way

But you can’t get a date without a shadchan.

*

You can drink alcohol responsibly

You can vote for the leader of our country

You can buy a ticket for the lottery

Which is like waiting for a date from the shadchan.

*

Your life is your own for 365

Only you control the things that keep you alive

But if you want a drone to help in your hive

You’ll have to wait to hear from a shadchan.

…okay, okay. Not a drone. But I was running out of rhymes, okay?

Thursday (Not Friday) Not-So-Repost: Let Him Do the No-ing

Another thought that came to me while reading this post was how much easier life is when the other person says no for you.

It’s always easier when the other side gives the “no.” You can sigh with relief, secure in the knowledge that it was mutual, and when you’re 45 and still single, well, you weren’t the one who turned this one down.

But, let’s face it: you’re funny, generous, charming, good-looking, deep, kind, etc. There’s no reason for the average guy to turn you down. How can you make a DOA date reject you?

Here are a few techniques that have been tested and proven in the field. Feel free to add your own.

–          Make everything about you. Whatever he’s talking about, it should remind you of the time you did something similar. Feel free to slide into his train of thought and run away with the conversation. Your story about the time you and your friends did that in camp is much more interesting than his anyway.

–          Make your sidebar whiny. Not only is it all about you, but it’s about your first-world problems. Well, he does want to meet you and learn about you, right? And your life is difficult in its own unique way. It should be interesting.

–          Know your stuff. Are you a doctor or a PhD in biomolecular psychology? Make sure to showcase your knowledge. Often. About everything that you do, see, eat, read, or discuss. Bonus points if you can apply it to analyze his relatives and friends.

–          Know his stuff. Many people base a large part of their self-worth on their career success or specialized knowledge. If you can speak familiarly about his arcane subject, you take some of the air out of his blimp. It need not be a technical subject. I once, purely accidentally, embarrassed a fellow who’d described his love of canoeing just by mentioning class IV rapids.

Note: this does not work on nerds. Nerds see knowledge as a source of joy, not a source of power. They will be so overjoyed to find a female who can discuss server networking with them that they’ll immediately dial the shadchan to schedule a second date. To discuss server networking.

–          Disagree with him. When he brings up a minor worldview matter, take the opposing side. Firmly. It need not be anything important. Successfully used subjects: whether to spy on a spouse’s internet usage; whether it’s better to live IT or OOT; whether YU is evil or not; or whether it’s okay to buy German products. Your date will be disconcerted at his inability to impress his views upon you, not to mention your sheer idiocy in maintaining a differing perspective.

Hopefully, by applying a few of these techniques, you can convince your dates to turn you down first, and save you the trouble.

Thanks DiT for contributing your experience. 

Hanging Out on the Boardwalk is Good For Shidduchim

Thanks, Relarela (or should I call you NEF #17 now?) for this post on why it’s important to Be Seen: because you never know who will make your shidduch.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard that phrase and rolled my eyes at it. But apparently it’s true. Because you won’t believe who set up Chava and Mordy

Friday (OK Tuesday) Sort-Of Repost: Let’s Not Go Out Again

Rereading this post, I was thinking how frequently one blows off the shadchan with a non-informative explanation for why you’re not interested.

Sometimes, it makes your life easier. There are many well-meaning shadchanim out there, but not everyone is for everyone.

Take the shadchan who called around all my references to find out if my skirts covered my knees (they do). She assumed they wouldn’t because I have a degree from a secular college and live away from home. Or the shadchan who prophesized that I’d come back begging for a learning guy after I saw the caliber of the working guys out there (the opposite occurred).

There’s an obvious disconnect here, so why waste your time trying to explain when you know they won’t get it?

And sometimes, you just don’t want to say what has to be said. Like, “He’s too nerdy for me. I know I’m nerdy, but he’s super-nerdier. A completely different level of nerdiness.” Or, “He was a little too into clothes, food, and appearances for me. Also fame. I’m trying to avoid saying ‘shallow’ here.”

Who wants to say it? Not me. So I don’t.

Which was why I was surprised to find myself candidly explaining to a shadchan why I was thinking about turning a guy down after a first date.

“He’s really nice and funny when you get to know him,” she said anxiously. “You just have to give him time.”

He didn’t need time. He’d been very nice and funny. We’d had a great time. He was just my brand of nerdy, actually. But…

I laid my explanation out like a five-paragraph essay. I introduced my reservation. Advanced the argument with three illustrations. And finished by concluding that, although I would not mind a second date, I rather thought I was wasting his time.

The shadchan listened thoughtfully and agreed with me. I polished off the piece of potato kugel she’d set in front of me, surprised by how pleasant the whole experience had been.

Maybe I should try this more often.

Classifieds in New-Shidduchville

My Shidduchville correspondent got married a while ago and went to where all Shidduchville graduates go. Recently, she spied a classified in a local circular.

Wanted – Looking For a Shidduch for my amazing friend.  no space to describe her. Do you know of a great guy around 30, a ben torah,  who wants to live in israel? lets talk.

Well, there’s details for you. Although, truly, this seems to be how very many dates are set up. “Amazing Friend, meet Thirty-Year-Old Ben Torah. Talk about how you both want to live in Israel.”

Then again, I shouldn’t complain. There are shadchanim that require you to fill out multi-page questionnaires that include everything from where your parents grew up (Relevance, any?) to what school you want to send your children too (Because that will never change).

Is there a happy medium somewhere? I think so. But don’t ask me for details. I’m currently writing a mini-essay on The Role of My Rabbi in My Life for a shadchan.

Quote of the Week: Would You Go Out With Someone Who

Is it not the strangest question ever? “Would you go out with someone who wears a knitted kippa?” “Would you go out with a girl who wears denim skirts?” “Would you go out with a guy who doesn’t have a college degree?” “Would you go out with a girl studying to be a doctor?”

A gentleman was asked one of these types of questions. His reply? “That’s kind of like asking me if I’d eat baking powder. If there are other ingredients with it, then yes, I do.”

How’s that for clever? Here’s one of my favorite ways to eat baking powder. What’s yours?

Combine 5 teaspoons of it with the following ingredients:

2.5 c whole wheat flour

2 tablespoons honey

2 eggs

2 C milk

4 tablespoons oil

Mix wet and dry separately. Stir to moisten. Drip tablespoonfulls into a frying pan greased with hot oil. Fry.

Where Have All the Posts Gone?

I have always envied those really great writers who seem capable of banging out n0vels about things they know nothing about. Floridians who write about surviving the Klondike gold rush, or Californians writing about being a woman in modern Pakistan, or the NJ housewife writing murder mysteries placed in Communist China.

How do they do that? I wonder. How can they capture the experience so well when they’ve never experienced it? Of course, I’ve never experienced it either, so I don’t really know. But it seems very realistic.

Myself, I’ve always been stuck writing about things I know, like learning to drive with your parents in the backseat, or solving Laplace transforms. (That last one went over like week-old sushi in creative writing class.) Being a single dater in the Orthodox Jewish universe was one of those things.

Was.

Because I’m not any more.

No, please. Don’t engage me. I stopped being a player in the dating scene when I moved out of town.

There are about four single males in this city, and we managed to size each other up in a couple of months. There were some good efforts at setting me up with a dentist in St. Louis and a firefighter in Boston, which fizzled after less-than-fascinating phone conversations in which the gentlemen made it clear that if I wanted a date, I’d have to go to them. (Did I just call them gentlemen? Misnomer. I’m a whole lot more in-town than St. Louis. Seriously–the nerve!)

Those were the enterprising shadchanim. The ones who said, “He wants to live OOT, she wants to live OOT, let’s bring them together!”

Some didn’t even try. Paraphrased quotes from emails:

Shadchan: “I received your resume [Call it a profile! – editor’s note] and I deal with the type of boy you’re looking for. I heard you’re moving back to New York soon, is that true?”

Me: “Maybe in a year or so. But I visit regularly.”

Shadchan: “Well, email me when you do move back, and I’ll see if any are still available.”

AnotherShadchan: “I received your resume [It’s not a resume! – editor’s note] earlier this week and noticed that you live in OOT. When will you be moving here?”

Me: [to self] “When? When? Does anyone else see an objectionable assumption there?” [in email] “Maybe in a year, but I visit regularly.”

AnotherShadchan: “Because, you know, it’s so hard to get boys to travel even to Philadelphia, let alone to Baltimore. It’s just a hopeless cause.”

Me: “Thanks, I guess.”

YetaThirdShadchan: “I have your shidduch resume [It’s not a farshtinkener resume! It’s a profile! – editor’s note], and I have an idea of a great guy for you. Are you willing to relocate?”

Me: [dismayed] “For the first date?”

So, since I’ve moved to this lovely town, I’ve dated (as in, met in person) a grand total of two people. This is not a sufficient quantity to sustain a dating blog. Hence, a drop-off in quantity of posts.

Want more BadforShidduchim? Send dates. Venturesome fellows, not afraid to feel the dirt beneath their tires or ask directions from someone drinking beer on a couch on their front porch watching the cows come home.

Seriously, guys. You need to get out more.

Or you could just make yourself available when I’m in the tri-state area. Is this asking too much?

Friday Repost: Operation Marry Off Bad4

I can finally remember this weekend without any signs of PTSD. It was the weekend my parents introduced me to nearly a dozen women in the hopes that one might marry me off. I don’t know where they get their hopes from, but I guess hope is not a bad thing. If it keeps them busy and happy, I’ll put up with it. But I’d rather factor polynomials in my head.

Too Much Attention

How involved should a shadchan be?

On the one hand, a few pointers on whether the girl expects you to hold opens doors or will be horrified by it can make a big difference to a date. On the other, telling a guy where to take his date would suggest that you’re not entirely confident in his abilities to navigate the grown-up world.

Then again, if the shadchan has asked some of my dates “Where do you plan to take her?” it might have prevented them from stepping off the train into residential Brooklyn and saying “So, where are we going?”

Then back again, you can’t expect the shadchan to guide a guy through every possible mine in the field, with questions like “Do you plan to speak to her on this date? Do you plan to speak to her about anything except your PhD thesis? When she starts talking about how cold she is, will you take her indoors?” After all, if you have that little confidence in the guy, you probably shouldn’t be setting him up.

And then, sometimes, the shadchan is the clueless one. Like the shadchan who called a guy on the day of the first date to inform him that the girl was sick, they’d have to postpone, but wouldn’t it be so nice of him to drop off flowers erev Shabbos for her? The mind boggles. I mean, they hadn’t even met yet.

So, how involved is too involved? Should the shadchan give the guy your phone number and bow out, or should (s)he be coaxing the parties through every step of the way? Which would you rather? Which would your dates  rather?

The Cringing Shadchan and the Indignant Single

“I have an idea for you. If you’re not interested I understand, but I thought it was worth a try. Let me know if he’s not your type. It wasn’t actually my idea—it was someone else’s—but they weren’t sure how you’d take it—you don’t mind, do you?”

Does anyone else face the cringing shadchan on a regular basis? I find myself soothing middle-aged women, assuring them that no, I’m not offended that they thought of me, I’m not upset that they’re redting me a guy, and I won’t hate them forever if he turns out to be a dud.

Why so hesitant? I and my single friends are waiting for their calls. Yes, we want to hear about the single guys they know. Frequently, we wonder why they haven’t called.

“My cousin has boys over every Shabbos. How can she not have found anyone for me?” is a typical grouse from a friend.  Or, “Not even a suggestion in six months. What is it about me that’s so hard to envision with any man?” Then there’s, “Her husband is the biggest macher in yeshiva.” Or “She’s a shadchan! She knows boys! Just never any for me!”

Trust me—there’s no need to apologize. We’re dying to hear from you. Just to know that you’re thinking about us.

And so I find myself soothing middle-aged women in black, reassuring them that I’d love to hear about this guy and look into him and no, honestly, I’m not offended—should I be?

Ay, there’s the rub.

While I rarely turn a guy down, and never trash a shadchan, these high standards of behavior are not universally upheld across the singles community.

“Can you believe it? My own cousin tried to set me up with a 60-year-old divorced Chabakuk father of 12 from the Shomron. What was she thinking?”

“Why do I subscribe to SYAS? So I can get set up with another Australian telephone repairman who has a criminal record? Should I really be  that desperate at 26?”

“If I get set up with one more off-again/on-again (the derech) chossid, I will scream.”

“I have a PhD in physics. How dare he try to set me up with a florist. A florist!”

Oh the horrors. Oh the offense of it. To be set up with someone so below one’s social standing, one’s intellectual bracket, one’s religious identification. It would be better not to be set up at all. But why must we choose between these horrifying extremes? Is it too much to ask to be set up with someone normal—that is, of our social standing, intellectual bracket, and religious identification? Aren’t there any of those around? Do we not merit to hear of them in our hoary years? Thus complains the unhappy single.

As for me, you can still call me with criminal Aussie telephone repairmen. I’ve never met one before, and I imagine it’ll be an intriguing experience. For my friends—well, do as you see fit. But don’t bother being apologetic about it. Your apology won’t show up in the retelling of the tale later that week, so don’t waste your dignity on it.

Thursday Link (Early): Dating Feedback

WotWentWrong exists because, it seems, I’m not the only person who goes on perfectly amiable dates and doesn’t get another one after. Sometimes you just wonder, why?

Not that I’d ever wonder to the point of asking, though. Not directly, and not through some third-party website. Heck, I rarely bother to ask the shadchan.

Still, the idea is there. This website has set itself up as a shadchan for the masses, ready to relay messages back and forth between parties, ranging from, “Let’s step this up a notch” to “If you would eat your soup instead of shoveling it, dinner dates with you would be much more enticing.” Except they promise to be more polite.

Good idea? Not? Who knows. I’ll never use it because I tend to have a shadchan involved. Would you?

PS: Do you think these guys set this up just so they could read people’s absurd, broken-hearted emails to each other?

Get Thee to a Shadchan! (If You’re Male)

It’s not like nobody wants to set up older girls. Well, maybe some don’t. But based on what I understand, the problem isn’t not wanting to set up the gir— I mean women – it’s that guys tend not to go to shadchanim. As a result, shadchanim wind up with long lists of women and short lists of men. It’s really not a promising start.

It’s like the singles events. Women go because they figure they should give it a shot. Men go only if they’re totally desperate. The result: a totally lopsided pool of attendees.

So I don’t see this as a game changer.

If they want to change the game, they should bribe normal, young men to visit shadchanim. Preferably the same shadchanim frequented by the women. Now that might make a difference.

There’s a Price on My Head

The thing I like the most about this NASI game changer is that it puts a price on my singleness. Marrying me is worth $8,000.

That is, there’s an $8,000 bounty offered to any man or woman who can successfully eliminate me from the shidduch pool. So, according to NASI, that’s the value of my (uncovered) head.

Now, I’m all for paying a shadchan and so on, and I understand that I’m a tough case, so $3,000 won’t cut it. But $8,000 is a whole lot to give away to a stranger. It’s like a dowry, but minus being able to use it on your household after.

I would rather offer the money to my husband-to-be, as a bribe for him to present himself a little sooner rather than later. He is very welcome to $8,000 from my account (prenup agreement requiring marriage of >5yrs), which, of course, he can use to pay off the sheitel mortgage.

After all, if we’re going to put a price on my hair and I’m going to be paying the bounty, why shouldn’t I call the shots on who it goes to and when and how?

 

Whose Side Are You On Anyway?

Most of the time, a shadchan is particularly invested in one of the parties being set up. They’re not actually setting up pants and skirts. They’re setting up a skirt with their favorite nephew. Or a pair of pants with the neighbor’s aging daughter, lo aleinu.

This manifests especially in the follow-up to the date. The shadchan will call their principal party anxious to hear that it went well. If the principal party is less than enthusiastic, the shadchan won’t push. (S)he’ll apologize instead, and hasten to break the news to the auxiliary party. If the principal party is interested, on the other hand, the shadchan may press a reluctant auxiliary party to try again.

Sometimes, like when a friend sets you up with her cousin, you are not sure into which party you fall. Other times, like when your uncle picks out the best bochur in the yeshiva for you, it’s rather more obvious.

And sometimes you wonder.

Like when your sister-in-law’s brother meets a guy at sheva brachos who he thinks you’d enjoy meeting. You have no reason to assume he’d have anything but the best of intentions and a discriminating eye. After all, you’re best friends with his sister and a sibling of his favorite brother-in-law.

Until you find yourself on the most tedious date of your life with a guy who keeps jerking around to peer over his shoulder (just in case something exciting is about to take place? Does he have insider information?) in between talking with his mouth full about how much he earns.

Was he different at sheva brachos?

Or maybe… maybe his connection to the sister-in-law’s brother is actually closer than you think. Maybe the sister-in-law’s brother is trying to marry this guy off, and for that reason is setting him up with everyone in sight.

Of course, you would never converse with a member of the opposite gender when not dating, so you never have the opportunity to shout “What were you thinking?” at the sister-in-law’s brother. Instead, you politely tell your sister-in-law that you don’t think the guy is for you, but to thank her brother for the thought—it was very considerate and much appreciated.

Yeah, there are dates like that.

The ones that leave you mentally asking the shadchan: Whose side are you on anyway?