When Everyone’s an Expert

People who get within sniffing distance of marriage are notable for their sudden transformation into SMEs (subject matter experts).  It is amazing, really, how only a taste of marriage can turn someone into a fount of information on the subject. Here are some of the courses available through the Marriage Department at TMI U.

The Meaning of Commitment 101

Taught by a newly ringed NEF, the meaning of commitment covers what it means to declare yourself dedicated to someone for life, no matter what. Lectures range between 5 and 15 minutes and may include an earnest entreaty not to be afraid to commit yourself; after all, it’s probably going to work out great for this NEF.

How to Just Take a Leap of Faith – Seminar

Taught by an NEF, this quick disposition covers the meaning of faith, as well as the necessary prerequisites for it. There is brief coverage of the technique of leaping, as well as some evidence provided that leaps of faith pay off. Really. Things turn out fine. They do.

These impromptu speeches by NEFs bother me the least of all the near-marriage lectures, because I know they’re mostly talking to themselves. They’re nervous, and they’re trying to assure themselves that they weren’t stupid, accepting a ring from a stranger in return for a promise to remain dedicated to them for life.

Sometimes I bait them, proposing more and more dire marriage situations, just to watch them brace themselves to remain committed, yea, e’en in such dire straits.

What bugs me more is when people who have very little experience will marriage become experts on the subject. For example:

The Simplicity of Shalom Bayis – Lecture

Presented by an NMF of about three months, this lecture covers how simple shalom bayis is to maintain. All you have to do is listen to the other person and be willing to compromise. Honestly, what’s the big deal?

How Bad Decisions Messed up Someone Else’s Marriage, a Case Study

Presented by an MF of one year, this analysis of the rocky marriage of a 3-year-old couple will dissect poor decisions they made that led to their current situation. The lecturer will detail how she and her still-honeymooning husband would never make dumb mistakes like that.

Just from sitting around in my armchair watching, I suspect it takes a year before a couple really feels comfortable enough to start taking advantage of each other. Then you have another year before they start getting fed up with each other. So you won’t be seeing any cracks until year three, unless the situation is really bad. Oddly, that’s around when MFs stop dispensing the free marriage counseling.

Of course, I don’t claim to be an expert. I’m just explaining my own theory (available in lecture series upon request), and why I’d never take serious marriage advice from anyone who hasn’t been doing it for at least five years. Ten preferred.

Otherwise, you might as well purchase my other lecture series:

Why My Kids Are Going to be Fantastic

In this course I will espouse that raising great kids is simple: all you have to do is understand what each child needs and provide it. What’s the big deal? 

I Can Be Annoying Too

Texts I should not have received from MFs:

“I love my husband so much. Don’t you sometimes think you’re missing this?”

“My baby is so beautiful. Don’t you wish you had one?”

“That man will buy me anything – the whole world if I let him.”

Texts I will not send:

“Girls night out. Didn’t get back ’til 2. So. Much. Fun!”

“Ice cream for dinner. Just didn’t feel like cooking, you know?”

“Hosted a bunch of girlfriends for the weekend. One long slumber party. Wish you coulda been there!”

“We’re all going camping. Are you coming?”

Trip to Israel in Summary

Excerpt from Conversation 1:

Mr. Shidduchim: Good bye! Have fun! Love you! Send my best to the relatives! And if you come back engaged I won’t be too upset.

Bad4 Shidduchim: Don’t hold your breath, please. I love you too.

***

My Luggage Contents:

“When you pack for England, you pack things for yourself for when you’re in England. When you pack for Israel, you pack stuff for everyone in the entire country of Israel.”

 

Contents of Large Suitcase #1 ( 100%)

  • For kinfauna (entertainment – 35%)
  • For kinfauna (clothes – 60.5%)
  • For me (3.5 oz deodorant – 0.5%)
  • For Also4 (electronics – 4%)

Contents of Large Suitcase #2 (100%)

  • For kinfauna (30%)
  • For Best4 (10%)
  • For assorted relatives, friends, neighbors, and random strangers who heard I was going to Israel (60%)
  • For me (0.0%)

Contents of Carry-on Suitcase (100%)

  • For me (95%)
  • For kinfauna (5%)

Personal Item (Knapsack – 100%)

  • For me (100%)
***

Excerpt from Conversation 2:

Passport Control Guy: Why are you coming to Israel?

Me: To visit my kinfauna. And friends. And brother and sister-in-law.

PCG: They live here?

Me: Yep.

PCG: They made aliya?

Me: Yep.

PCG: Why haven’t you made aliya yet?

***

Excerpts from Many Conversations:

Friend 1: You can wear a tichel to work in Israel.

Friend 2: If you make aliyah, they pay for your education.

Friend 3: You don’t have to waste your vacation days on chagim over here.

Relative 1: Why would you want to live anywhere else?

Relative 2: I bet we could find you a job if you came here.

***

Excerpt from Conversation 3:

Truck Driver: Why are you here?

Me: Visiting my brother.

Truck Driver: He moved here?

Me: Yup.

Truck Driver: He moved from the United States to Israel? Why?

Me: Um…

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.

Paranoia

I was sitting and chatting with a bunch of pregnant women.

Said pregnant women being my MFs, of course. We were yakking about such wonderful bits of nature like morning sickness and stretch marks and I almost said, “Gosh I wish I was pregnant.”

The statement would have been meant to be ironic, considering the the subject matter. But I bit it off at the tip of my tongue because what if they took it to be a hint that I found the conversation insensitive? Or as a piece of self-pity? I was so terrified of this that I choked it back and instead introduced the comparison of shea butter versus cocoa butter.

And a minute later one of the MFs said, “I bet you wish you were pregnant, Bad4.” And everyone laughed.

I heart my friends. Why was I worried?

The MF as a Reference

So, Good4 is working up her shidduch profile, in specific the list of references at the bottom. The Mater wants to narrow down the list so she chucks out one on the basis that she’s single while the other one is married. “The single one knows me better,” pointed out Good4. The Mater says that the married one is better.

I. Don’t. Get. It.

I really don’t. I know I’ve been through this before when I was picking out my own references. What on earth is wrong with single people? They’re the ones I keep in touch with, for goodness’s sake. I recently checked the bottom of my profile and discovered, listed there, an MF who probably doesn’t deserve the F in her title. Since she got married we’ve seen each other a grand total of once. I went to her for Shabbos – it was a miserable affair – on condition that she’d come to me in return, which she never did.

(Yes, I have MFs over with their husbands. It’s not nearly as awkward as you’d think. I do have a father, you know, and when guys don’t know each other they just swap divrei Torah and bingo! instant socializing. Not nearly as awkward as sharing a table with just your MF and her husband.)

I shot her a couple of emails, tried to organize a couple of get-togethers, and then gave up. We never really had much in common anyway, and heaven knows what she’s telling all those callers. So I took her off.

And therein lays the issue with using MFs as references. You may still have friendly feelings toward them, but they’re not really up-to-date. They’re off in MF-land where you’re just a blip on the horizon. They check up on you once every few months… and they are intimately acquainted with your dating life vis-à-vis reference calls. How absurd is that?

Or, as MF#1 put it, when she found herself fielding shidduch-calls shortly after we returned from seminary (she was the only MF I had): “I don’t know any of this stuff about you! Why am I getting these calls?”

And, as I put it: “Cuz you’re married and They won’t let me put anyone else on the list.”

So, why are MFs preferred? Can anyone explain this to me?