Another One Bites the Dust

I would like to dedicate this post to a fine young woman who is no longer with us. Charmingly cynical, you could always count on her for epigrams worthy of a demotivational poster.  Her daily uniform was a worn out, floor-sweeping denim skirt. She probably had jewelry just the way she probably had ankles. You rarely saw either.

And then she went and got engaged.

Some other creature is wearing her skin, now. Someone who smiles a lot; who wears dresses and heels and sparkly things framing her face. Someone who admits to bursting into tears at emotional moments (wait, did she say emotional moments?) and worst of all—yes, this is the most ominous of all—confesses to a desire to be nice to everyone.

Dear Friend (if you are, indeed, the same person): you are a lesson to us all. Nobody is immune. No matter how hard core, deeply baked, or hard boiled you are, in a moment of weakness (like a proposal) your defenses can be broached and you be reduced to a shy, giggling, mirror-checking, hair-flipping, makeup-fixing, dress-tugging girl.

Mazal tov, NEF#16.

Line of the Weekend

Not this weekend, but two weekends ago, the following was overheard at the Ohr Na’ava shabbaton, from one of the shadchanim to one of the young female guests:

“You should always wear a little bit of makeup. Even at the gym, you should put some on. Because, you never know…” wink wink nudge nudge.

Sinister Secret Society

Welcome to the Secret Society. There are rules. There are regulations. There are expectations of how you will behave and comport yourself. We will tell you all about them after you take the oath.

Are you one of us?

Well of course you are. You’ve been waiting for this day. Talk about “na’aseh vinishma” – we know you’re in, so we can make demands.

Someone will tell you all you need to know.

Several someones.

You won’t know when. There will be no warning. But information will be imparted and you will know it. After which you are expected to behave accordingly.

Are you ready?

That was a rhetorical question.

Welcome to Shidduchim.

That old high school classmate who suggested you start ironing your hair daily? She was an agent. Listen and obey. That nosy neighbor who gave you the elevator eyes when you were taking out the garbage? She was an agent. Listen and obey. The former teacher who told you that story about the girl who dressed up on the day she happened to meet her future mother-in-law? She was an agent too. Listen and obey to climb in the order. Disobey and risk the shame of being an eternal novitiate.

Three women – two of them young – sit in a living room.

“You should at least iron your bangs,” says the older young one, flipping her perfectly straightened hair. “Now that you’re in shidduchim, you need to look nice for people.”

“I know,” says the youngest, self-consciously tugging a curly lock. “I just don’t have that time in the morning.”

“You’ll wake up a little earlier. It’s worth it. This is important.”

The older woman stands up and excuses herself. The straight-haired young woman nods after her. “My aunt? She’s a shadchan.”

The curly-haired one looked horrified. “And I was sitting here like this–!” her fingers flutter over her messy bun.

“Yes,” the other says. “But she’ll be at my wedding next week.”

“So I have another chance,” the first sighed in relief. The testing had begun. She would not fail again.

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?

Can’t a Person Lose a Little Weight Around Here?

It isn’t Friday, so this isn’t really a repost, but Blobby’s post about people engaging her for no particularly good reason reminds me of  the other things you can do to get engaged before your time.

  • Dress up a couple of times
  • Do your hair/makeup a little more often or more extensively
  • Lose weight
  • Be unavailable for telephone conversation for a couple of weeks
  • Be busy in the evenings more often than usual
  • Examine household items in the store
  • Smile to yourself a lot
  • Say “I have great news!” or something along those lines
  • Tell people that you’re busy