Why You’re Still Single

It’s always been a mystery to me: why am I still single? Well, somebody knows, and she wrote it in to the Chronicles of Crisis this past week. For those who don’t read this oh-so-essential column, here’s the lowdown. If you’re still single, you probably fall into one of these categories:

1 – You’re obsessively spiritual

2 – You will only accept perfection

3 – You have a psychological need for a parental figure and don’t socialize well with people your own age

4 – Require a spouse they can worship on a pedestal

5 – Require a knight in shining armor to wrap them up in fluffy clouds and chase the big scary world away

6 – You’re fat, frumpy, or you have a big nose

The author has come up with these six categories, and notes that she doesn’t fit into any of them. She therefore wonders why she’s still single. I think she neglected one category:

7 – You’re an insufferable know-it-all.

Now, perhaps it is true that all single people fit into at least one of these categories. However, you can’t conclude your correlation = causation theory without checking the other end. Meaning, how many married people fit into these categories?

I admit that I don’t have enough friends to create a statistically significant pool, but I believe I have MFs who fit into most of those categories. Definitely into category 6. I’ve met men and women who fit into category 5 who are married; four – possibly, it’s a little hard to diagnose one’s friends; and one – definitely. Even category sevens get married sometimes.

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Black Outlook, part 1 of 2

Gentlemen, a word to you before you get married. You are not allowed to be critical of feminine dress. The only thing you are allowed to say about your wife’s turnout is “You look nice. No, of course it doesn’t make you look fat. Nothing – no, I’m not lying. Well I just said ‘nice,’ I really meant ‘gorgeous’ and ‘beautiful’ it just didn’t come out right. No, really…”

That is totally irrelevant, but I mention it because I noticed that some guys weighed in to criticize women for wearing too much black and brown back in this post (or was it another? It’s a subject that comes up often). Which is a pot & kettle accusation, as someone pointed out, unless the guys in question wear gray suits and white straw hats. But even then they really haven’t got a right to be critical. Not until they’ve actually gone shopping and tried to buy something for a woman.

Here’s what it’s like:

First you have to narrow it down to something tznius. So, that rules out about 85% of the store in the summer and spring, and 65% in the fall and winter. Once you’ve found something that fits your standards, it’s got to be a style you don’t consider completely hideous, or that makes you look fat, or that’s snug in the wrong places. When you’ve found the perfect style and cut, you eagerly sift through the rack, past the black ones, past the white ones… if you’re lucky, there will be gray, brown, and navy as well. Sometimes they throw in red or hot pink to jazz things up, or sweat-suit gray, or something equally unhelpful. And if by some miracle they have a color that falls somewhere between garish and depressing?They don’t have it in your size.

Story of my life.

Why am I whinging about this? Well, I always have to get in a clothes-related complaint during this season. I think it’s tradition by now. It’s the only time I ever completely hate the business of dressing up.

To be continued in part 2.

Shadchanim and Suits

It was not so very long ago that I made fun of young women who visited shadchanim while ostensibly unwinding from the stresses of life. Thus, it is with deep embarrassment that I confess to… <Blush/>

To visiting… <Deep blush/>

On vaca… <Covers face/>

But I can justify it! I mean, I never go anywhere near that Town. It was a once-in-three-years opportunity! I know it’s against the rules of vacation, but it would have been foolish not to!

Methinks I doth protest too much.

Good4 says I must be getting desperate, but I would have phrased it differently. Perhaps that I have a heightened desire to close the single chapter of my life or an intensified awareness of the drawbacks of being unpaired at this stage of my life, or… Whatever.

To my own credit, I would like to point out that it was not part of the original vacation plans. I only thought of it while in the car driving away from NYC. Which spawned a problem of its own, immediately grasped by my ever-perspicacious mother, who asked, when I related the tale, “What did you wear?”

An excellent question – one that I pondered throughout the week of vacation. When you’ve packed a small carry-on full of t-shirts and long black skirts, what do you wear to visit a shadchan?

People make fun of women who pack fat suitcases full of clothes and shoes for every occasion, but it really isn’t a laughing matter. You simply don’t know what situation will arise, and invariably it will require clothing you didn’t pack.

A woman can never pack too many pairs of shoes.

I was contemplating that truism while surveying in dismay the three pairs I’d brought along. The hiking boots, the water shoes, and the sneakers.

Granted, the sneakers weren’t too bad. They were my LBS – Little Black Sneakers, the preferred footwear alternative for women who wear black socks. They would have to do. I hoped the shadchan wouldn’t notice.

The skirts – well, a long black skirt is respectable, isn’t it? It’s not like I even own any slinky skirts or pre-worn denim or anything. And as for shirts – well, thank goodness there was a sky-blue polo among the sweats-gray and orange t-shirts. Really all I needed was a quick stop in a pharmacy for some mousse (thank goodness I keep hair clips on my knapsack zipper pulls) and I’d be good to go.

Well, good enough to go.

At this point in my narrative my mother and Good4 are silent, positively riveted with – well, some strong emotion. The wonder in my mother’s expression is doubtless admiration for my resourcefulness. Or else uncertainty over whether I’d done myself more good or harm. But none of us had taken into account the view from the other side of the dining room table. That is to say: what does a shadchan wear when cramming a last-minute appointment into her busy evening? Hm… Never thought about that one.

When a nervous young lady, dressed to the nines, is arriving in your house, I guess you can’t really come out to interview her in your housecoat and plush bunny slippers. The pressure runs both ways.

“I’m so glad,” the shadchan confessed to me. “I felt bad about not changing into my sheitel and shoes, but then I see you…” her hand gesture takes in my sneakers and hemline. I murmur my excuses, but they seem unnecessary. She isn’t rudely pointing out my under-dressed state. She is contentedly pointing out the happy coincidence (Good4 would shout “Hashgacha pratis story!” at this point) of our being mutually dressed down on this occasion.

I wonder if, in the future, if  I ever visit another shadchan, I should call ahead and offer a sort of truce: I’ll dress down if you dress down?

What Every Femme Must Know If She Wants to Catch a Beau

Hayley Mills singing in Summer Magic about what every girl should know/if she wants to catch a beau.

“You must walk feminine/Talk feminine…”

Well, this explains everything. Or almost everything. I’ve been trying to understand this business of femininity ever since I discovered that I was a girl, which was when they threw me out of the men’s section in shul at eight years old.

I know it’s tied to the color pink, to shrieking/squealing, and involves a spiritual connection to department stores. It would then follow, in my mind, that squealing in delight at a pink sweater in Macys should be the ultimate in femininity, but another well-documented characteristic of femininity is its unpredictable lack of adherence to logic.

Impracticality, I know, is part of femininity. We wear skirts that aren’t meant to be walked in, bathing suits that aren’t meant to be swam in, and shoes that kill the feet that wear them – first degree murder at that – and we’re supposed to be happy because it’s pretty. And we don’t have any pockets.

Pockets were eliminated from women’s clothing so that designers can sell more handbags. They could double their market by taking the pockets off of men’s clothing, but men are not yet ready to walk around with little bags dangling off their wrists. They would storm the bastions of style and tar and feather the designers and ride them on a rail to Harajuku to get their pockets back. Which is why they still have them. Women just squeal in excitement at the opportunity to accessorize and rush off to the nearest department store.

That just about sums up my knowledge, and as you can see, walking and talking feminine aren’t addressed.

“Smile feminine/beguile feminine.”

Beguile feminine – this I understand. It involves flattering the male ego, mostly.

Classic example: Scarlett O’Hara saying, “Oh, I never can make up my mind which of you two’s handsomer. I was awake all last night trying to figure it out.” to the twins Brent and Stew. (Hey wait – is that odd use of emphasis feminine talking? We’re making progress.)

“Complement his masculinity…”

Another classic: Many a woman who would sensibly take a shoe to a cockroach while home alone, will shriek and hop up on a chair when her husband is around to rescue her. It’s the clasped-hands-‘my hero’ thing that both men and women seem to love. Hey, the damsel in distress theme has lasted so long for a reason. Women feel special when they’re rescued, while men feel strong and virile when they’re rescuing. Think about what happens when Bambi first sees Falene – speaking of which, there’s a doe who knows how to smile feminine. You know – head tipped slightly down, looking up through the eyelashes, coy smile. If you don’t look like a Disney heroine (Ariel preferred), better practice in the mirror first. That probably also takes care of “Glance feminine.”

“Be radiant but delicate…Be demure, sweet and pure.”

I think this is where the average career woman trips over her corporate pumps – but there’s hope. A year or so ago the BBC ran an article on a woman who wrote a book suggesting that marriages would be happier if modern women abandoned their power suits at the door and went back to the 1950s housewife charade – soft, helpless at everything not traditionally feminine, great at dressing well and cooking meat and potatoes and saying ‘whatever you prefer dear’ a lot. The response was huge, and the comments ranged from “Yes! Women need to remember that their place is in kitchen, and they should stay there!” to “If my wife ever stops trying to get the last word in an argument, I’m divorcing her.”

Every pot has a lid.

But just in case, practice glancing through your eyelashes.

(Thanks O for the idea)

Please Don’t Engage Me

Sorry ‘bout being late today. It’s been a busy week. I usually have some posts “in the galleys” for busy weeks, but last week was busy too. And don’t you dare look at me like that; it’s term paper season. Being “busy” doesn’t always mean being “busy.” No, I am not on the brink of engagement.

It seems like a “girl” in shidduchim can’t make any changes to her routine or appearance without being accused of serious dating. A friend of mine told me that at her friend’s l’chaim, someone said, “I thought there was something going on… she’s lost so much weight!” To which friend replied, “Nice try, but she lost half of it before she met him.”

At the beginning of last year I had a job on Mondays and Wednesdays, 9-5. So on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Touro College days, I dressed down, in a way that was probably bad for shidduchim. Then, about halfway through the year I switched to a job that had morning hours, Monday through Thursday. And suddenly I was showing up in Touro College dressed up instead of down. It is absolutely disgusting how many people said things along the lines of, “Is there something I should know about?” or otherwise hinted that it was just a matter of time before they heard from me at a strange hour of the night. Irritated, I borrowed a costume jewelry bracelet that was silver and set with a few dozen rhinestone diamonds, which, if you don’t know, is the symbol of engagement among local young ladies. It raised a few eyebrows and made a few people, in their own words, “wonder,” but nobody congratulated me. Oh well.

Then there was the time I briefly took up a tutoring job and had to get home at certain hours and be unavailable shortly after. “No it is not for a date,” I had to specify, because otherwise the rumor-mill would have my wedding date settled on by the end of the week.

Many people figure they can plot dating patterns based on frequency of “doing” hair, niceness of dress, new additions of clothing to the wardrobe, and lack of availability in the evening. When these patterns persist or increase over time, they believe they can confidently expect an engagement. Unfortunately, these are all rather superficial signs, and easily read into when there’s nothing to read.

Commenter mickey mouse has her own methodology for predicting engagements. She points out that after a certain period of dating, you begin to hear with greater frequency things like “I was discussing that with someone and…” or “Somebody told me…”

I have learned the hard way that you never ever ask “Who told you that?” no matter how outrageous it is. Not unless you want to watch a friend blush, squirm, and eventually, lie. (Because “Oh I don’t remember I heard it somewhere” is still a lie.)

But, says mickey mouse, you know an engagement is impending when the pattern changes to “we.” Meaning, “We were just discussing that yesterday!” More subtle than dress patterns, and possibly more accurate; we should probably do a serious study to test it out (and by “we” I mean the general population involved with dating couples, and not me and some significant male).

Considering how briefly I think before I speak, the “we” pattern will probably be a fair predictor for me, so please don’t monitor my clothing or availability because you are just going to be disappointed. And someone agrees with me.