Boring or Shy?

Once upon a time I went out with a nice guy. Slightly boring, but truly nice. On our last date he was just starting to get interesting. Opening up, I suppose, as we became more comfortable with each other. Seeing that he had the potential to be both nice and intriguing, I decided to go out again. He did not.

A few weeks later a friend of a friend was at a Shabbos meal with him where he mentioned that he’d recently gone out with a whole string of truly boring women, and where were the interesting ones hiding?

Well thank you, Mr. Fascinating. happen to not think I’m boring. I enjoy my company very much, e’en, yea, constantly day and night.

I suspect most people feel this way about themselves. Even the guy who assured me that he was the least exciting, adventurous, and well-rounded individual I would ever meet seemed to think his company was still charming. (It wasn’t bad, to be honest. If you don’t get bored of someone being flippant to mocking about anything exciting, adventurous, and non-academic.) And yet, within two dates we think we can come to the conclusion that someone else is boring. Or at least, more boring than ourselves.

I wonder which is the more realistic issue. Do we have an inflated sense of our own interestingness? Or are we too quick to judge the slow-to-warm as boring? Do we have skewed criteria for interestingness?

Before anyone jumps in and says “What’s so important about being interesting anyway, you’re looking for a spouse not an entertainer,” obviously, you need to want to spend time with said future spouse. If they bore you, you’re never going to hang around for the proposal. Interesting need not mean he’s raising funds to build schoolhouses in Mozambique. He could just have a quirky sense of humor or be really into shuffleboard. (Which, let’s face it, is fascinating. I mean, who on earth can be really into shuffleboard? I want to know more about such a person!)

Shy people, like me and my date with the boring dates, are at an especial disadvantage in shidduch dating, where a 4th date can have the deeper meaning of meaning you want to get deeper. You have three shots at being interesting enough for a Fourth Date. And if you don’t cut it, you’ll hear through the grapevine how boring you were.

The crazy part is that two shy people don’t necessarily a mismatch make. Take, as an example, this true story about two young women who moved into an apartment in the Heights together. Neither had ever met before, but had mutual friends who vouched for the sanity of the other. Although both were lots of fun when cozily ensconced in their social circles, they were both introverts, a little insecure, and were not great at breaking ice.

“We literally did not talk to each other for like, two months,” one of them said. “Well, we said stuff like ‘Is this yours?’ and ‘Maybe we should move the couch here?’ but that was it.”

It took several meals with mutual friends before the two started chatting, and even longer before they began intertwining their social calendars. Then they discovered that they liked the same music, had complementary preferences in housework, and both wanted to take a flower-arranging course. Before a year was out they were finishing each other’s sentences. And now they’re so tight they’ve been known to impersonate a married couple ironically.

So, shy people: even if the person opposite you isn’t obviously shy, consider that maybe they just might be slow to warm. And then: shy people of the world unite! (Okay, couldn’t resist that one.)

20,000 Dollars Under the Sea

More Monday-morning controversy for y’all. Dig in.

“…and how they’re going to pay their rent with her in college and him in kollel I don’t know. And pay off those loans. I love my son-in-law to pieces, but next time we’re going to ask about student debt in the research stage.”

I overheard this line many many years ago at a friend’s sheva brochos. It brought to my attention a potential Big Issue. You know, the kind of thing you red flag in a Potential from the start, along with his/her attending 4+ high schools  or collecting shoulder-mounted SAM launchers as a hobby.

Yeah, I’m talking about those student loans.

Maybe this is not the place to go into Bad4’s Theory on Borrowing, but I’ll sketch it out in brief. There are two types of investments. There’s the gamble investment, like the stock market. You only put in money that you don’t really need. Then there’s insurable investments, like a house or car, that have some intrisic value (they keep you warm and dry). You can borrow against their value, which can also be insured.

College, imho, falls into the gamble investment category. There’s no guarantee that you’re going to get a job simply because you’ve got that piece of paper with the synthetic parchment grain. (Ask everyone who has gone on to graduate school [more debt] because they couldn’t find a job.) The knowledge is worthless without many other qualities that make you hireable. And it has no intrinsic value; try burning it for warmth or holding it between you and the rain. Try buying insurance for it. For what?

(I make a small exception for doctors, surgeons, and anasthesiologists, for whom unemployment exists only as the sort of fairy tale old nurses tell young interns to scare them.)

Yet, many people go fathoms deep in debt for a college degree. Debt that could take them years and years and year to pay off, especially if they have a home and family to support. (And car payments and a mortgage.)

Which brings me ’round to the question: should student debt be up there in the FBI question list? One of those things you ought to know before you go (out)? Is it a Fourth Date Question – for when  the skeletons start coming out of the closet?

Me: “Well I’ve got a blog.”

Him: “I’ve got six digits of students debt.”

Me: “Take me home now.”

Him: “Hey, I was okay with your blog!”

I thought it was just me who has a pathological fear of debt. Certainly everyone seems to think I’m completely nuts for avoiding it like chopped liver. Rationalizations I’ve gotten range from “Well what can you do?” to “It’s the cheapest loan you’re ever going to get! Enjoy it!” So I kept my distates for things with APRs under wraps, along with all my other weirdnesses, like my preference for warm winter jackets and life without a cell phone.

Then I saw this NYTimes article, linked through Orthonomics. Discovery: there are others like me! Someone even broke up over it! I’m out of the closet, folks.

Hi, my name is Bad4, and I have a pathological fear of irrational debt.

When I hear that someone has racked up $50k+ in student loans, I automatically place their IQ a standard deviation left of the mean. Perhaps it’s unfair, but I’d probably need to rack up $50,000 in psychologist bills to eradicate the creepy-crawly, raised-hairs-on-back-of-neck feeling it gives me, and that’s definitely not an investment worth making.

So, is this a serious shidduch issue, or should couples just bite the bullet and figure it out post-chupah?