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.

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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.