C’mon, admit it. It’s your number one untouchable excuse for everything.
Like a little get-together I threw one motzai Shabbos. One of my invitees said she couldn’t make it: she had pre-existing obligations. “What could be more important than seeing me?” I protested. She delicately burked the question and ended the conversation. So I knew she was going on a date.
Or maybe not.
Way back when I was new to the dating thing, before I realized how scrupulously people keep an eye on the young maidel’s dating life, I accidentally pulled the same shtick. I wanted to avoid a boring social situation and pleaded a pre-existing obligation. Yeah, I had one, alright: using up the popcorn kernels in the cabinet with my father. Well, we’d planned on doing it, okay? And he’d be terribly disappointed if I didn’t show. And so would I be. But it doesn’t make an awesome-sounding excuse, so naturally, when pressed for details, I demurred. My presser got this knowing expression in her eyes, winked, and wished me the very best of luck. At first, I was taken aback at her implied knowledge of my personal life. But then I realized that she’d just given me an ironclad excuse. I blushed and thanked her. And you know what? Her wish must have been worth something because the popcorn was excellent.
Relarela recounted a dilemma her friend faced when dealing with a very poorly spelled shidduch profile. “How do I turn this down for lacking any attention to grammar without sounding like an intellectual snob?” Friend wondered.
“Why? Will the fact that he can’t even spell his high school correctly really make a difference to your marriage?” Relarela joked. After some debate, they decided that this was the purpose of the Plastic Tablecloth Question. It’s not that anyone really cares if you stack or scrape, but it makes a convenient and painless excuse for turning a person down. Instead of saying “No, I don’t want to go out with him he’s bald/dumb/weird,” you just say “He wears a baseball cap; I don’t go out with that kind of guy.” Now you are the weird one, he doesn’t want to go out either, and all is good.
And then there’s the excuse “It’s bad for shidduchim.” Yes, yes. It has prevented many a young person from taking part of legitimate enjoyment. But it’s also the numero uno excuse for not doing something you don’t want to do. Trust me on this one – I get it all the time. Like the time I invited a friend skinny dipping. She said no, as it was bad for shidduchim. (Apparently, the Women in Black have satellite and night vision.) Now she’s married and still won’t even consider it, but now she says her husband doesn’t let.
And then there’s Yada, the yeshiva guy who attended a Friday night dinner at his local campus Hillel. The campus rabbi was making his way around crowded room, greeting everyone with a brief exchange. When he came to Yada, sitting on the couch, he noted that the couch pulled out into a bed and that there were a number of co-eds in attendance. “Maybe you’ll get lucky,” he winked. Yada didn’t miss a beat. “No, I don’t think that would be a good idea,” he said, adjusting his black hat. “It would be bad for shidduchim.”