Conversation of the Weekend: Born into the Wrong Era

“You realize that we’re really old by the standard of the middle ages. We’re like, 40 in medieval years.”

“Yes, but think how desirable we’d be if we went back there now. We’re strong and healthy. We have all of our teeth. No wrinkles or smallpox scars. What’s not to love?”

“True. And we definitely have the skills to manage a castle.”

“I’d love to manage a castle.”

“You’d have to convince them you were nobility, though, to marry in.”

“I can read.  I have table manners. That already puts me ahead of half of them. And I wear corduroy and can act superior. A pedigree I can make up–they don’t have efficient background checks yet.”

“Good point. It could be done.”

“Any Jews have castles back then?”

“Um, well, no.”

“Too bad. I really would love to manage a castle.”

“You can manage an international business, though.”

“As a male Rothschild, maybe. But a Jewish woman?”

“It’s not a new thing. Since you’re not supposed to use Torah as a shovel to dig with, the rabbi was usually supported by giving his wife a monopoly on a commodity. And some women used that as a base to launch a business.”

“International?”

“Well, among the German states. Close enough. Haven’t you read Gluckel of Hameln?”

“No.”

“Shame on your Jewish history teachers!”

“If she didn’t have a beard and write a book, they didn’t cover her. It was a narrow, male-rabbi-chauvinistic curriculum.”

“She wrote a book and ran a business. Read it.”

“I still would rather have a castle.”

“Try Toys R’ Us.”

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B4S Sees You On Sinai

I signed up.

I don’t know why.

It all started when a match appeared in my inbox. The email explained that a friend had suggested the guy for me. In order to see his info I needed to set up a basic account and fill out a profile. It was only after I put in all that effort that I discovered that I couldn’t accept or decline the match without a paid membership. Sheesh.

Of course, once I had the basic membership, matches started bonking into my inbox like spam into a Yahoo account. I read them with mild amusement. There was the happy chossid, the guy whose picture showed him in a black t-shirt and sunglasses, and one fellow whose list of his ideal wife was so long and so far superior to me (“chein, temimus, sweet, kind, sparkling”) that I wanted to hit “accept” just because I enjoy a good challenge. My favorite was the guy who looked quite portly in his picture but described himself as slim. Probably I set my tolerance parameters too wide.

I described my experiences to the friend who catalyzed the entire reaction. She was shocked.

“You don’t have a SYAS account?”

As if, at my age and stage, it was requisite. As if I’d admitted to not having a bank account. Trusting my life to friends, relatives, and a plastic pig with a slot in the top.

Well, she might have a point there.

It’s been observed that I need to broaden my circles a bit, so…

I checked the rates and did the math. I shook my head and did it again, and then I multiplied the monthly rate by the 33,000 singles supposed to be using the site. I was immediately overcome with envy for the site founder. Add advertising revenue… someone is sitting on a Caribbean island somewhere sipping Shirley Temples and checking their matches.

I bit the bullet and punched in my credit card number. First thing I went straight to the guy with the demanding shopping list and hit “accept.”

He rejected me.

Oh well. No shocker there.

Next I informed my shadchan that if a guy puts down “TV, weightlifting, and billiards” as his hobbies then he’s not for me.

Then I went to the home page and divided the 1,000 matches made by the 33,000 single members. I got a 3% success rate. Of course, if you consider that each match takes care of 2 members, I guess it’s more like 6%. I wonder if that’s a statistically significant number.

I mean, as far as I can tell from my experience so far, SYAS is the names-on-a-dartboard game on a grand scale. The shadchanim throw suggestions at you, you catch or parry them and wait for the other party to do the same. At some point two people actually like the sound of each other and agree to go out.

I’m still waiting for that one.

For the readership: how often does it happen? Give the rate on a per month basis please.

Oh, and the original suggestion that started it all? I have no idea who he is. He timed out before I forked over the cash.

Cartoon credit to Stupid Inventor

Sweep Her Off Her Feet

I received the following intriguing email a few weeks ago:

A friend, getting desperate at ever finding a good girl (yes, that happens to guys too), hatched a plan to kidnap a nice BY girl. He would use a friendly shadchan’s services to preselect the very best girl. Whisk her off to a carefully prepared New Mexico cabin. Adobe stucco, very picturesque. Treat her in a most kosher and cavalier way. And allow the Stockholm Syndrome to do the rest. Within 6 weeks he would deliver her back to the parents: safe, secure, and happily married.

There would be a few complications regarding lo signov, but we could rely on the few poskim who say shidduchim trumps  mitzvos lo sa’asei (everybody agrees that it trumps mitzvos asei). That’s it. Desperate times require desperate hishtadlus.
…Are you calling the police?

In the words of the king from Cinderella, “Love, ha! Just a boy and a girl meeting under the right conditions. So, we’re arranging the right conditions.” (Thanks, O.) But are these really the right conditions?

Bride kidnapping is not a new idea. Fiction is rife with such tales, most of them perpetrated by creeps, and generally unsuccessful—think The Phantom of the Opera, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Among the attempts at kidnapping that are successful is Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, but that’s a post-WWII musical, which have a reputation for presenting women as far more tractable than they are in real life. (One egregious example of this rewriting of reality is Annie Get Your Gun—in real life, Frank Butler was not a self-absorbed jerk [he stepped down to become Annie’s manager], and Annie had enough backbone not to be his simpering puppy. One wonders why they use the word “tribute” in their descriptions of the film/show. Tribute to who, exactly?

There’s a simple measure of how closely a movie/musical mirrors reality—it’s called the Bechdel test. There are three criteria the production must meet to pass the test:

  1. There must be two significant female characters (with names),
  2. They must speak to each other,
  3. About something besides a man.

Good luck finding a handful that fit. And yet, I know that many women speak to other women about things besides men. Are we still in parentheses?)

But this wasn’t an entry about film criticism. It’s about kidnapping women and hoping for Stockholm Syndrome to kick in. Truth is, even with Stockhold Syndrome, kidnapped women still try to escape. They just find excuses for their captor. Every few years such a case hits the news.

The best course may be the one outlined in the Restoration drama ‘The Conscious Lovers,’ by Richard Steele. There, the main character, a Mr. Bevel, takes under his wing a young lady shipwrecked and all alone in the world. He provides for her all the comforts a young lady needs: an apartment, a maid, and a piano. And he visits frequently to ensure that she’s comfortable. They both become secretly besotted with each other, but neither dares mention it for fear of offending the other with their presumption. But of course, in the end, with typical Restoration drama chaos, everything comes all right and they marry.

Kidnapping a woman immediately gives her reason to resent you. Rescuing her immediately gives her reason to like you. And as Maureen Dowd snidely states, “Women like firefighters because deep down, they all want to be rescued.” Sadly, shining armor is out of fashion these days. Think of the wide appeal of The Princess Bride; it almost certainly stems from its adherence to the knight-in-shining-armor-rescuing-damsel-in-distress model.

So for all desperate gentlemen considering this course of action: It would be far better to arrange for someone else to kidnap the woman, so you can go in and perform a daring rescue worthy of a Jewish thriller novel. On the long trek back to civilization (a kidnapping to the Congo or Amazon would be ideal), the two of you will doubtless bond. By the time you ring her doorbell, the only thing left to discuss will be “Should we send Bad4 a response card?”