Why Good4 Must Get Married aSAP

Although the NYTimes wrote about this ages ago, I just recently found out that I belong to a coveted marketing niche known as the PANK.

Professional Aunt, No Kids.

Earning oodles of spare cash and determined to be cooler than our aunts were, us PANKs are willing to spend between $200 and $500 a kinfauna every year, taking them to museums, feeding them pizza, and buying them expensive Lego kits so they can reproduce the Forbidden City in the comfort of their own playroom.

Honestly, I can’t think of anything I’d rather be than a PANK. It sounds like so much fun! You rent cute kids at a rate of what, $30/hr? Then return them in time for bathtime. No late-night vomit sessions, no fights over homework. You won’t find a better deal anywhere.

Sadly, my kinfauna live too far away to be conveniently PANKed. That’s why I’ve decided Good4 must step up t0 the plate and provide some local options.

So, does anyone know of a nice yeshivish boy for my sister?

Oh wait.

Oy.

I just realized something.

I have officially entered the ranks with the grandparents, demanding that their offspring get married so they can have some “nachas” (read, grandkids, great-grandkids) already.

What does that make me?

My Contribution to the Community

I have a great idea for an invention. (Listen up all relevant parties; yes I mean you.)

It started when Good4 and I were sprawled on my bed with our heads stuck out the window, enjoying a spring breeze. A young wife was shoving her way up the block, pushing a double stroller in front of her. She was practically 45-degrees with the ground in her effort to keep the heavy thing moving. And this was on level ground.

“When I have a double stroller, remind me to stand straight when I push,” Good4 said. “It looks so awful.”

“Not as awful as her husband strolling along behind, hands in pockets,” I observed. “But you know, she’s doing that because it’s heavy.”

“Yeah I know, but still.”

“You’d be like Black Beauty in the bearing rein if you insisted on standing straight. And that was outlawed as cruelty to animals.”

“Still. It looks terrible.”

I recalled that conversation a few months later while pushing a friend’s single stroller up a steep Israeli hill. I tried standing straight, but the darn thing (not to mention the kid) was heavy. I gave in to physics.

While I was pushing (and sweating), I thought about uphill bicycling.

Bicycle commuters are not always enthused about the exercise opportunities of their transit medium. That’s why they invented these motors you can attach to your bike. The smaller ones just kick in on hills to make it easier to pedal up. You still have to pedal somewhat, but it’s a whole lot easier.

I think we need something like that for double strollers. A small motor you can kick on that will make it easier to move those things.

It would have to have the following criteria:

(1) It has to be removable. For chagim and for locations with eruvim.

(2) It has to be small enough that we don’t wind up with motor-vehicle classification issues. It has to be legal for sidewalks.

(3) It has to be strong enough that a small woman, laboring under the weight of a large sheitel, could push a double stroller uphills without compromising her posture.

Someone, please invent this before I have my first kid.

Conversation on the Couch

Good4: I wish I could set you up with Single Dude!

Me: Why?

Good4: Well he’s perfect for you. He’s studying architecture, he’s gingy, and he’s geeky and a little awkward in a cute way.

Me: Sounds right up my alley. Why can’t you set us up?

Good4: Well, he’s only a year older than me.

Me: So why don’t you go out with him?

Good4: Well, he’s in college, he’s a redhead, and he’s geeky and awkward.

Me: Oh.

Reason Number Whatever for Getting Married

…or for getting your hands on some school-aged children in some other manner (artificial insemination, adoption, etc).

Back when we were in school, the lead-up to any holiday was full of anticipation. Even in high school, every teacher would so bemoan the fact that we didn’t learn “Yahadus” anymore that they’d mix something related into their lessons. Now… well…

Good4 has joined my annual tradition of waking up the night before Purim and going “Ohmigosh! I didn’t arrange matanos l’evyonim yet!” I’m flattering myself, of course. She’s way ahead of me. My first year out of seminary I didn’t remember until Purim day.

Then Best4 sent a video of Kinfauna #4 telling the Purim story as a musical production, complete with school-crafted popsicle puppets and pre-school level musical numbers. (And parental prompts from the class newsletter.) Best4 gets the same running start on all the holidays just from being around kids. (And he gets to watch Kinfauna #4 ham it up on a regular basis.)

And yeah, I miss that. These days holidays just happen and I show up to them as a guest. When you’ve got your own household, you own the holiday. And when you’ve got kids, that same old story becomes  fresh again, popsicle-stick puppets, Vashti songs, and all.

Why I Need to Get Married Fast

My sister has given me a deadline. I have two months to get engaged.

I’ve pointed out that she’s being a tad unreasonable. Two months might be enough time for me, but that assumes I go out tomorrow and don’t lose any time for the yomim tovim. So she grudgingly gave me a bit of an extension: as long as I get engaged before she does I’m okay.

Yep, that’s what this is about. Good4 plans to start dating in two months (and since she’s the youngest, the parents are not protesting) and she wants my dating parsha wrapped up with a satin bow before hers is. Because she plans to marry the first guy she goes out with. (I hope someone lets him know about this beforehand…) And she plans to do it with the minimum amount of time dating. So I have maybe three months.

I’ve told Good4 that I really wouldn’t mind if she got engaged and married first. I’d be very happy for her and wouldn’t dampen my pillow at night in the slightest. We are two very different people, and I’d be a fool to measure my life against hers. She certainly doesn’t measure hers against mine. But she says that’s not what it’s about at all. I’m 24 and that’s really old enough. I ought to be married by now, so would I please get a move on?

I can’t argue with her. I remember being in high school and thinking that a 23-year-old was pitifully old. And I’m a little freaked about being 24 myself. I mean, it’s almost a quarter century since I was born, and what do I have to show for it? Marriage, at least, is a quick fix for the doldrums.

The truth is, though, that I have no trouble believing that Good4 will marry the first guy she decides to marry (and he won’t know what hit him), and that does leave us in a tight race – but not the race she’s thinking. You see, it isn’t that the person who gets married first is the winner so much as that the person who’s left at home is the loser. It’s like this:

Right now there are a definite amount of chores that need doing and two of us at home to do them. When one person leaves, the quantity of chores that need doing does not reduce (though the amount of each may decrease); only the hands available to do them does.

Whoever gets married first takes on an entire household of chores, so that’s not exactly winning. (But those chores are tempered by the excitement of keeping one’s own home, so it’s not exactly losing either.)

Whoever gets left behind is going to get stuck with double the chores to do in boring old home. That’s twice the table setting and clearing, twice the dishwashing, twice the garbage-taking-outting… Seriously – can you think of a worse fate?

Now I feel driven to get married!

Bring on the gentlemen callers!

I’m an Issue

Good4, bless her little heart, is a few months shy of entering the big wide world of dating. The parents, bless them, say that I’ve demonstrated why to marry children off young. Which is a little silly, since Good4 isn’t the slightest bit like me, but nobody is objecting, because Good4 (unlike me) actually wants to be married before she’s six months out of seminary.

Anyway, Good4’s intro to Being A Single came on chol hamoed. She pelted down the stairs shouting my name. “Do you know what Abba has in his email account about you?” she asked, breathless.

“Um, no,” I answered, wondering what it could possibly be already. My tax records? Incriminating emails from scandalized people who have seen me walking into hotels with men? RSS email feed? Cherished letters from my seminary days?

“A folder called ‘Bad4 Issues,’” Good4 declared. “And I have one called ‘Good4 Issues.’ But Best4’s is called ‘Best4 Family.’ Can you believe it?”

Well, yes. “It’s because he’s married,” I explained. I didn’t mean it like that. I meant that our folders couldn’t be called “[whoever] family” because we didn’t have a family. Of our own, I mean. Also, Best4’s folder was probably full of photos and videos of the kinfauna, whereas ours were probably full of tax documents, scandalized-witness emails, and poorly spelled letters from seminary, hastily tapped out on a palm-top computer while eating falafel in Ben Yehuda.

But Good4 was puzzled by her first apparent run-in with marriage discrimination. “Because we’re single we’re issues? Does Also4 have an ‘Issues’ file too?” she wondered aloud.

“Yes he does,” confirmed Mr. Shidduchim, who had followed her down the stairs at a more sedate pace, befitting the dignity of his age and position in the household. “You are all issues until you’re married. Then you’re still issues—but you’re somebody else’s.”

Ding! She got it. She laughed. Can you tell she’s new to the game?

Part 2 of 2: The View from the Top of the Stairs

 Part 1: Whose Date is this Anyway?

Anyway, we left me standing at the top of the stairs slipping into my heels, eavesdropping as my parents lead my date to the dining room, where they’ve put out some food he won’t touch and offer him a drink he won’t drink. I strain my ears, but can’t hear anything.

Apparently guys know that the girls are hanging over the railing listening in, because when I mentioned something on our date related to something I didn’t know he had discussed with my parents, he cracked a follow-up joke. I remained utterly confused until he said, “Didn’t you hear what I told your parents?”

“Um, no.”

“Oh.”

So there I am, not quite hanging over the railing but good enough, and hearing only distant murmurs. I count to ten twice and move to go down.

Where are you going?” my sister hisses.

“Down,” I whisper back.

“Not yet!!!” she replies fiercely, putting out a hand to detain me. A real bully, this one. I could scuffle with her, but that would send some exceedingly interesting noises floating down into the dining room. I didn’t want his first question on our date to be, “So what was that scream I heard right before you came down?”

“What scream?”

“It was pretty short – cut off in a little gurgle.”

“Are you feeling OK? Maybe we should go back.”

“Ha ha. Just kidding. So, where should we go?”

(Just a PS: guys, if you’re going to make me choose a destination, let me know before we leave the house, so I can ask my parents; they eat out a lot more than I do.)

So I stand quietly at the top of the stairs straining my ears, still not hearing much. After a few more minutes, I’m beyond impatient. What’s the point of all this nonsense and pretend? I’m ready; I’m going down.

“If they’re talking, I want to hear,” I tell my sister, and head downstairs. After all, it’s my date. I should be at it.

Does anyone else find it all a drop weird to wait before making a fashionably late entrance? Or is nobody else ready to roll until five minutes after he shows up anyway?

It turns out the mini-date does have some use. After the date, I mentioned something the guy told me to my parents. My father raised an eyebrow—it didn’t quite jive with the story he got during his five minute grill. A word to the wise guy—keep your story consistent. Liars, distorters of the truth, and tale-tellers fail to impress. For Bob’s sake—don’t get caught at it on the first date.Give the same information on both first dates, because you bet there’s going to be some comparison of notes.