On Being Twenty-Seven

Twenty-seven is the best year of your youth. This is an absolute fact, according to the Huffington Post articles I’ve been getting from another 27-year-old friend, so I know it must be true.

Twenty-seven is when your career is skyrocketing, you’ve finally grown into yourself, you’re at your most beautiful (or handsome), your physical peak, your sharpest, your brightest, your most scintillating, and your greatest desirability. There’s a bit of a suicide bump at the end of 27, when people realize that this is it, it’s all downhill from here, to beer-gutted mediocrity and cat-ridden obscurity.

Clearly, Robert Herrick was speaking a universally acknowledged truth when he said:

That age is best which is the first,

When youth and blood are warmer;

But being spent, the worse and worst

Time still succeeds the former.

I can’t say my experience contradicts the venerable Huffington Post on this matter. Twenty-seven has treated me very well. In fact, it’s been a fantastic trip so far. Being asked to list what I’m grateful for at a Thanksgiving feast was a struggle; how could I narrow it down to a few key items, when everything in my life is so amazing? I almost feel a bit sorry for all those married people who never got to experience 27 with all the breezy freedom of being single. (To be fair, they probably reflect the sentiment back at me with a “what-do-you-know” comment about committed relationships. Ezehu ashir? Truce, my MFs. Truce.)

That said, twenty-seven doesn’t usually last for more than 365 days—366 if you’re lucky. And it’s all downhill from there. So if ever you’re going to have an optimized shot at avoiding a houseful of cats, twenty-seven is it. Not that your chances take a swan dive after, but this is the peak—or so they say. I mean, you’re probably just as desirable at 28 as you were at 26. Unless the drop-off is steeper? Does the Huffington Post has any of its deeply scientific articles analyzing this?

Well, let’s not worry or be stressed out about it. Let’s just finish off with a final, relaxing stanza from Mr. Herrick again:

Then be not coy, but use your time,

And while ye may, go marry:

For having lost but once your prime

You may forever tarry.

…You know, he never does say exactly how to manage it. In fact, Herrick sounds a whole lot like the MF who says “Well if you want someone to go on vacation with, get yourself a husband.” Gee thanks. Didn’t think of that one. I guess I’ll go out and propose to the first interested commenter on Trip Advisor.

Oh well. At least I’m still twenty-seven.

And it rocks.

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Designer Bride – II

Continued from previous post reviewing ‘How to Create the Perfect Wife’ by Wendy Moore: Designer Bride I

If you know what kind of life you want, and you know what kind of spouse it will take to make it happen, why shouldn’t you insist on exactly what you need? Such hubris led our hero Thomas Day to attempt to create the woman he could not find. He adopted a 12-year-old orphan and raised her himself, inculcating her with his doctrines.

Sadly, it did not work.

At the age of 14 she rebelled against the heavy burden of housework he put on her. Also, she wasn’t enjoying being pricked by pins and shot at with a pistol to develop her stoicism.  It seems that even meek, grateful orphans have their limits. So he banished her to boarding school.

Lesson 1: You can’t force people to fit your mold.

Day went back to dating women of his social class who were out of his league. One had to be dumped because she was too attached to her earrings. Another returned his proposal-by-contract with a point-by-point rebuttal, saying things like “Equality is essential for a happy marriage,” and “I couldn’t imagine being subservient to a husband in all things.” Yet a third suggested that she’d marry him if he became socially presentable, like by brushing his hair and wearing clothes that fit and weren’t rumpled. (Lesson 2: The most deficient are the most demanding.)

In despair, he went back to his orphan, who was finished school. He gave her strict orders on exactly how to dress for his proposal. But something small was off (record doesn’t say what, but friends agree it was a trifle), and he banished her forever, furious at her disobedience.

Lesson 3: You can’t demand perfection in your spouse. They’re only human.

Unbelievably, lesson 4 is that every pot, no matter how dented and warped, has a lid. There was a woman who wanted to marry Mr. Day. And she did. It was a rocky marriage though, between Thomas Day and Esther Milnes. A marriage full of his tests and trials. A marriage full of verbal spats. A marriage from which Esther stormed off at least twice, moving out of the cottage in the woods and in with her mother-in-law. See lessons 1 & 3.

Which brings us to lesson 5: If you’re pretty sure that the reason you’re single is all the fault of the opposite sex, the fault is probably in you.

Continued in next post: Designer Bride III

HT Kansasian

Designer Bride – I

I just finished a great book called How to Create the Perfect Wife. It’s a non-fictional account of Thomas Day, a Georgian-era gentleman, and his attempt to, well, create for himself the perfect wife.

Thomas Day knew exactly the sort of life he wanted to lead. He wanted to retire from the shallow, frivolous contemporary society and live in a small cottage in the woods. He would spend his day reading philosophy, writing poetry, dispensing charity, and trying to make the world a better place. And he knew exactly the sort of woman he needed as a life partner.

She had to be smart and educated in all the same interests as he, but not so ambitious as to write her own novels or poems. She had to have simple tastes and spurn the frippery of the times. She’d wear her hair loose and unstyled. Her neckline would be high, her sleeves long. She would not own earrings or, preferably, any jewelry. She would be strong and capable, willing to endure his difficult life of privation and philanthropy. She would not engage in trivial pursuits like music and dancing, and she must have plump white arms.

Crazy, isn’t it? I mean, what kind of guy dictates the way his wife does her hair or what she does her spare time? Oh wait…

I once met a guy whose first criteria for a potential date was “doesn’t have Facebook.” His second was “will only cover her hair with a scarf or hat.” It only got more detailed from there. Another guy had a list of acceptable college degrees for his wife-to-be. I asked what he’d think if I found him the right girl, but she came with her own list, like how many times a week he has to learn, and maybe something against the way he asks random girls like me to call him by his nickname. His response was that if their lists didn’t match, clearly they weren’t meant for each other.

This is how many of us date. We have a dating pool of perhaps a few hundred candidates, but we still reel off detailed criteria down to how many years he should want to learn and what he can do bein hazmanim. And heaven forbid he should show up in a pink tie.

But if you know what kind of life you want, and you know what kind of spouse it will take to make it happen, why shouldn’t you insist on exactly what you need? Such hubris led our hero Thomas Day to attempt to create the woman he could not find.

Continued in the next post: Designer Bride II and Designer Bride III

HT to the Kansasian

Friday Repost: Gaffe Contest

The good stuff usually gets said as the evening wanes and the conversation gets stilted and the daters desperate. When they’ve stirred the ice in their glass too many times, when they’ve already casually glanced at all the paintings, when they’ve covered everyone’s siblings and summer camp history, then the brain turns to slush and the tongue slips.

~ The Bulwer-Lytton Dating Contest

Shidduch Reading List Additions

I started on a shidduch reading list many years ago:

Reading List 1

Shidduch lit

And now I’m going to add another two books to the list.

This past Shabbos I finished Seven Blessings by Ruchama King. This one is an astonisher. Written by a frum woman about frum women, the characters are actually real people you could potentially meet on the street. This may be why it was not published by Artscroll or Feldheim. Pick it up at your local library.  Or support a good religious writer and buy it instead.

The second book I literally couldn’t put down. I read it in one straight sitting, finishing in the wee hours and tottering off to bed. Data: A Love Story presents a paradigm shift for the serial dater. Sick of bad dates with lousy guys, Amy Webb sits down to crunch the numbers and find her husband the 21st-century way: via algorithm.

She then proceeds to prove that you don’t have to date everyone every suggested to you “just in case.” Oh, and that wisdom about how you shouldn’t make a list? Throw it out. You need a list.

Naturally, her parents freak out. She’s being too picky. She’s being too hard. She may be letting someone great pass her by. But she perseveres and, wouldn’t you believe: finds a guy who matches her list! Who likes her! Who proposes!

So you see, it can be done if you do it the right way. So excuse me now. I’m off to compile my List.

 

The Bachelor’s Soliloquey

I am a big fan of Hamlet’s soliloquy. When you think about it, life hardly ever averages out on the euphoric side. I don’t think human programming permits it to. So why do we bother going through with it? In his soliloquy, Hamlet does an excellent job hashing out our reluctance to kick the bucket (although I think he leaves out two biggies: inertia and curiosity).

But I’m not taking this into the realm of literary criticism or existentialism. What I meant to say is that the soliloquy is eloquent and thorough, and rarely done justice in a parody. But the one below manages. It’s even easy to elocute with proper inflection.  If I knew who it belonged to, I’d cadge the rights for the Shidduch Musical. Thanks to Relarela for sending it.


O wed, or not to wed;–that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in a man to suffer
The slings and sorrows of that blind young archer;
Or fly to arms against a host of troubles,
And at the altar end them. To woo–to wed–
No more; and by this step to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand hopes and fears
The single suffer–’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To woo–to wed;–
To wed–perchance repent!–ay, there’s the rub;
For in that wedded state, what woes may come
When we have launched upon that untried sea
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
That makes celibacy of so long life;
For who would bear the quips and jeers of friends,
The husband’s pity, and the coquette’s scorn,
The vacant hearth, the solitary cell,
The unshared sorrow, and the void within,
When he himself might his redemption gain
With a fair damsel. Who would beauty shun
To toil and plod over a barren heath;
But that the dread of something yet beyond–
The undiscovered country, from whose bourne
No bachelor returns–puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of!
Thus forethought does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And numberless flirtations, long pursued,
With this regard, their currents turn awry
And lose the name of marriage.