Friday Repost: Okay, THIS is Pressure

Last week’s repost was about family exerting “pressure” on you to get married. Following that post, someone sent in a real live example of pressure from her dear old grandmother.

…Well, no surprise there. Grandmothers are the main source of marriage-directed pressure in my life. Possibly the only one. I don’t understand why. They already have grandchildren. Do they also need great-grandchildren? Isn’t that just a little bit greedy?

Or is it something different? Maybe it’s like the difference between how you treat children and grandchildren. Grandparents can tell you the stuff your parents really want to say, because they’re not your parents.

If that’s the case, I don’t want to know about it…

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?

Welcome Home

I wrote this in early September but for some reason it never got posted. Stumbled across it yesterday while cleaning all the files labeled “blog post” off my desktop.

Notes from my day:

Just off the phone with Grandmother #1 to tell her I’m back in town. She asks about my plans for the year. I say I’ll be finishing my degree at the end. She says that in addition to my degree I should finish the year with a license. A marriage license.

Just off the phone with Grandmother #2 to tell her I’m back in town. She provides a truckload of advice on guy-snagging and finishes by wishing me married by the end of the year.

Mother wants to know if I can go out with a guy tomorrow. Frowns. No, I need a haircut. How about the day after tomorrow? I ask if I can maybe have time to unpack my clothing and evaluate what’s left.

Good4 informs me that I have two months to get engaged before she starts dating.

Three children dating! No wonder someone’s been reading the Kupat Ha’ir booklet. This is the kind of situation that drives people to drink. Or chase segulos.

Good4 points out that I’m kinda old and maybe it’s time that I started a davening campaign for my zivug.

Good4 complains that the entire summer nobody spoke about shidduchim at all, and now that I’m home it won’t go away. I point out that, coincidentally, my summer had also been free of shidduch-talk, but now that I was home, nobody can stop talking about it. She has the good grace to blush.

Then, just to be annoying, I stick out my cup and ask her to fill it with water. “It’s good for shidduchim,” I say. She glares.

Honestly, people. I know you mean well and all that, but do you seriously think you’re doing anything constructive at all?

Wait, that’s a dumb question. I know you all do. I’ll just have to regrow the calluses that I shed over the summer so I can listen to you tell me how much I want to get married without feeling this powerful urge to move very very far away to someplace without cell phone reception and only once-a-month mail service.

 

Hall of Fame: Even Unto the Fourth Generation

I’m a third generation American with roots in New York back to the 1900s, shomer Torah umitzvos straight down the line. I’m rather proud of that – I would like to think I’ve inherited some of the character and strength of conviction that kept my forbears religious 35 years before the shtetl transplanted itself to Brooklyn. But I wouldn’t bank on it. I wouldn’t bet on my inheriting much of anything non-genetic from my great grandparents, and even that’s been pretty well diluted.

Which is why I was tickled to hear that someone looking into my brother asked, among many other equally pertinent questions, “Why did his great grandparents come to the United States?”

I’m grateful they asked, because otherwise I would never have learned the answers. As you shall see, they are quite relevant, and you will be able to predict my own behavior based on their reasons:

Great grandfather #1: He was living in the spiritual oasis of the Russian army, when one day, while parading through St. Petersburg, he had enough. The parade of soldiers wheeled left at the corner, and he kept marching straight, and didn’t stop until he put a continent and an ocean between himself and a court martial.

Great grandfather #2: He was collecting money in the United States for Telz Yeshiva when Telz Yeshiva ceased to exist. Since the circumstances surrounding the abrupt non-existence of Telz weren’t exactly pleasant, he brought over his family and settled down.

Great grandfather #3: His father took a look around at what was happening to Jewish settlements in Eastern Europe under Cossack reign, and noted that the life expectancy was astoundingly short. Decided to follow the divine commandment of “vichai bahem” and took off for more salubrious parts.

Great grandfather #4: Ran to the United States from Jerusalem to escape the Turkish draft during WWI. He settled down, opened shop, and started sending money back to the yishuv in Yerushalayim. After the war, they told him not to come back because his checks were more valuable than his physical presence. Additionally, the haskala was thoroughly ravaging the Yerushalmi “shtetl,” and in terms of spirituality, the United States was probably better than the Old City.

I find these snapshots of history very interesting, but I’m not sure how much they say about me or my brother. (Especially since I didn’t even know them until yesterday.)

However, as scandalous as my great grandparents were, I know of at least one great, great grandparent who was far worse, so it’s a mercy that these shidduch researchers, like God, stopped at four generations. My Yerushalmi great, great grandfather got tired of watching his wife starve and his children go barefoot, so he took some spare change and lit out for the territories. He traded with the Northern Plains Indians for a year and returned to Yerushalayim with enough gold napoleons to last him six years, and that included some serious real estate investments; he bought back most of Har Hazeisim from the Arabs. After six years, he returned to the wild Midwest for a second go ‘round. He rode all day, and slept at night with his tallis and tefillin under his head. While I would like to think he never missed a minyan, I am forced to contemplate the possibility that he might have missed just a few. Which is why I think it’s best if we keep this relative under wraps. Who knows what people might think? It would be badforshidduchim.

Of course, if he’d left those gold napoleons for my dowry, they might, like Hashem, have counted the good for a thousand generations.

Or at least until the gold ran out.