Conversation of the Week

I was on that errand of all errands: find boots for the winter! Boots must be comfortable, pretty, and if possible, warm and waterproof. On my way home from work I dash into Macy’s quickly to return a pair that didn’t quite pan out. When I get back out into the parking lot (after browsing the boots, bags, and clothes), I find that my car’s lights are on–but nobody is home. Cough chug chug. No engine turn over. Argh.

I have a full emergency kit in back, ranging from a shovel to a tow-cable, so I rummage around for my jumper cables. They’re hand-me-downs from my father, a gift upon my achieving that great milestone of middle-class American life: getting my own car. I find the cables and yank them out. Looping them around my arm, I notice something odd: there are only three alligator clips. Three clips, and a frayed tassel of copper wire. Sigh.

I rummage around a bit more, but no luck. The missing clip doesn’t show. Great. It’s cold, I’m stranded, and I don’t even have boots to keep me warm.

I stand in the middle of the lot to flag down evening shoppers. There aren’t many. An elderly couple would love to help me dear, but they don’t have cables, do I? Um, not really. Well then, very sorry dear. They’d love to help, they really would, but they were afraid they couldn’t. Good luck, though.

Luck did good. A teenage girl standing in between the double doors was picked up by her father. Both frum. I approached the car and explained my problem.

“Do you have cables?”

I squirm. “No.”

“I don’t have cables in this car. But I live only five minute away. I can come back with them.”

Sounds good to me!

I retire the car and entertain myself with the child’s hobby of making parents feel guilty and worried at the same time.

“Remember those cables?” I texted my father. “Well one of the clips is missing.”

“Pretty sure they were all there when I gave them to you,” he texted back. But he hadn’t even hit send before my mother was calling to find out if I was okay, if I was cold, if I had roadside assistance, was I sure I wasn’t cold, where was I, how did it happen, could it happen again, maybe I should subscribe to roadside?

“Don’t worry,” I soothed. “There’s a nice Jewish gentleman going to get cables to give me a jump.”

All worry on the other end of the line dissolved into a deep interest. “A gentleman?” I hear my father call from behind my mother. “How old is he?”

I roll my eyes and grin. “Oh, I would say about 50. He was picking up his daughter.”

“A daughter?” my mother doesn’t miss a beat. “Maybe he also has a son?”

Moooother,” I groan, conceding the round.

“Just giving you something to post about.”

So I did.

The Immortality of Hope

I am often amazed by the resilience of hope. It seems unsquashable.

It was ten minutes to a date I didn’t want to go on. I’d just performed the Cinderella act with my dressy-casual best. My hair was rearranged, my face was tinted all the right shades in all the right places…

My watch said 6:30, but my watch was fast by an indeterminate amount. (Keeping it uncertain is the best way to get me out the door on time. Otherwise you just wind up thinking “well my watch is ten minutes fast so I have another ten minutes.”)

My clock said 6:30, but my clock was set from my watch. My electric toothbrush also said 6:30, for the same reason.

…Ah, my cell phone. 6:24. There’s time yet.

So I fidgeted. I sat down, then stood up, checked that my skirt wasn’t too creased. Went to the mirror to double check my hair. In this humidity, it was amazing it hadn’t frizzed up over the course of the day. And while I was at it, was my makeup still intact? I have a deplorable tendency to rub my eyes, which wreaks havoc on the mascara.

All was in order.

I checked the clocks again.

“This is absurd, Bad4,” I mocked myself. “The only reason you’re going on this date is because it’s easier than explaining why you don’t want to. You have nothing in common with him, you are uneasy with his background, you are sure that you’re not hashkafically compatible, and the result of this date is a foregone conclusion. And yet you’re still patting your hair into place like… well, like someone who is nervous about the outcome of the date. What’s up with you?”

“Because,” I answer in a sheepish voice, “Because that’s how all the stories start.”

And then I had to laugh.

Is there anything to be done with such a ridiculously stubborn phenomenon? Can’t anyone kill hope?

Why There Are No Good Guys Left

Because my friend just married the last one.

Every now and then you bump into one of those jaded daters who insist that there are “no good guys left.” For a while I had a couple of these as friends. Their statement always filled me with great hope. I mean, if there’s no good guys left, then I can just stop dating! No more dressing up and getting excited and sitting in a coffee shop becoming more disillusioned by the minute. I can abandon hope, and losing hope is very liberating.

Sadly, none of these friends have ever been able to provide statistics to back up their claim. Even worse, they all got married.

Naturally, when they got engaged I felt compelled to tease them. Clearly, I pointed out, they’d been forced to settle. Or else they’d had to import their guy from overseas (Asia, maybe?) or steal him out of high school. They always respond by blushing and denying that they settled or scraped in the slightest. Their explanation? “I got the last good one.”

And here I thought they were my friends. I mean, thanks tons! That makes me feel better. You’ve just taken the last good guy and abandoned me and all your other single friends in a world full of no-good guys. With friends like you, who needs Women in Black?

But to be honest, it does make me feel better. Because so many of these friends are positively convinced that they got the last good guy out there. When you tally it up, that’s a whole lot of last guys. And if there could be six last good guys for all my jaded friends, well, that means there’s bound to be one more floating around. For me, of course. Not my other single friends. If there’s a last good guy out there, I’m going to do my very best to snag him before any of you can.

On your mark, get set, GO!

[Note: I have this feeling that I already published this post once, but when I tried to dig it up I couldn’t. So if this sounds familiar to anyone, apologies. It sounds familiar to me too.]

Jealousy + Hope

BoSD writes about that weird feeling you get when someone who seems to lack it all gets engaged while you (who presumably has something) are still single. Yep, guilty as accused.

It’s not either/or. It’s both. There’s the initial shock of “no way!” followed by “Seriously?” and then “Her?” and then “ouch, that hurts” and then “but then again” and finally “well obviously everyone has a someone!”

Actually, the thing that bugs me the most in that post is the quote about the 27-year-old finding someone to “take her.” Like she’s damaged goods, and a generous 28-year-old condescended to accept her as a charity case, like Chur and Miriam… Are there really people who think this way? Tell me no!

Flatlined

Some people took issue with graph three in the Top Ten Tuesday. I would like to take the opportunity to explain my reasoning.

I suppose, if I were permitted to suggest complicated graphs (Blobby wasn’t a fan), I would put in a spike for the first and second date. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I was quite convinced that I might marry the first guy I went out with. The idea was exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. Until I met him. Then I was just disappointed. I went to sleep thinking that if this was the guy I was fated to spend the rest of my life with, then fate was cruel indeed. But I’d give him another chance because what did I know? He might grow on me…

Thankfully, it was not my first date’s first date, and he ended the torment.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t get excited about each date. Not at the same wedding-planning level, but close enough. Oh, I act unconcerned enough. I roll my eyes when I hear the “this fellow really sounds like a match” from the parents, and I listen listlessly to what his neighbors and aunts have to say, and then shrug and say “Yeah, I’ll go out with him. Why not.”

But then while I’m applying lipstick I’m thinking, “His uncle said he was nice. You want a nice boy. This really is promising.”

To which my Second Thought retorts that they’re all nice, you can’t find a guy who isn’t nice, except for the ones who aren’t, but you only notice that nobody called them nice until after the date during which he failed to be nice.  And half the time the reason they call them nice is because they’re boring.

“But he dogsleds as a hobby. How cool is that? (No pun intended.) He could be interesting and nice. And it sounds like he might have a similar approach to things. He really could be the one.”

Second Thought rushes to wipe the hopeful smile off my face. You know how many guys you’ve gone out with interesting hobbies and maybe similar hashkafos? And how many of them turned out to have serious personality flaws that precluded your ever being able to get on together? Don’t get ahead of yourself. First meet the guy and then see if you still think he could be the one.

“But he’s in his final year in medical school in Memphis! Just think: if we date for three months and get engaged for three we can be married right after graduation! It’s perfect! This could really work out!”

Yeah yeah – you’ve been out with those too. All these perfect possible arrangements – guys with local apartments, guys with local jobs, guys with local schools or yeshivos, guys with matching graduation dates, guys with no graduation dates… notice how you’re not married yet? Just cuz it looks like a perfect arrangement to you, doesn’t mean God’s going to arrange it. So go pick out a necklace and stop being so optimistic. You know you’re just going to be disappointed.

That’s the dialog in my head on date night, more or less. So, I maintain – at least in my case – the same hopefulness is there, it’s just methodically squashed by a hyper-rational defense mechanism. Hence my flat line. If nobody else on the planet goes through that kind of self-dialog then I apologize for the graph. And I kinda feel sorry for you – especially the people who wanted to replace it with an inverse relationship. You do realize that eventually inverses go negative, right? I think you really want logarithmic. Blobby refused to do an inverse exponential, but technically, it’s probably closer to your reality…

PS: For the commenter who said she wished she was in on the conversation: you probably imagine us giggling over the phone late at night or something fun like that. It was more like us snipping at each other via IM. You didn’t miss anything.

An Endless (Not Bottomless) Market

Every now and then someone in a gaggle of women will kvetch that all the good boys are already taken.

Everyone else in the gaggle will sigh in agreement because none of them have met any single good boys either – if they had, they’d be married. Not that any of them would agree on what constitutes a ‘good boy,’ but they all know that there aren’t any.

Then, a month or so later, the kvetcher has morphed: she’s now an NEF. No good boys, huh? You don’t even have to vocalize it. She’ll sheepishly defend herself without prompting. “I got the last good one,” she’ll say.

Some people take offense at this line. “So what’s she saying,” they’ll huff. “That there’s no hope for me? Gee thanks. With NEFs, who needs enemies?”

But I always saw it as something with encouraging implications. Here is a young lady who had thoroughly worked her way through the season’s line of available men. Her conclusion? It’s hopeless. And yet, just when it seems that the bottom has dropped out of the market, she unearths a decent specimen!

Who knows? There might be another one hidden out there. Keep looking. It’s really more of a flea market than an outlet  store, anyway.  Keep sifting through and you’re bound to find a hidden gem.