Skulking Suitors

“Hey, got some questions for you,” a friend said. “A guy called last night and asked these, and I said I’d get back to him.”

“No problem,” I said, and provided the answers.

“By the way, who was he?”

“I promised not to tell.”

“What?”

“He told me who he was, but at the end of the conversation he made me promise not to tell you.”

“Why? What nosy, obnoxious questions could he have possibly asked that he doesn’t want me to know who he is?”

“Really nothing. He asked what your siblings do, why you live OOT—mostly things he’d know if he actually read your profile. And then the ones about whether you go to shiurim or have a rebbetzin or would be willing to Skype date.”

Then why won’t he tell me his name?

I am unable to come up with a good reason why someone would withhold their name in connection to their actions. Usually it means you’re embarrassed or afraid, or don’t want to take responsibility for it.

When a guy won’t put his name where his mouth is, I automatically assume he also writes anonymous letters to the Yated condemning everyone who doesn’t think the way he does. It’s not a promising start to our relationship.

Or wouldn’t be, if I knew who he was. That’s the point, right? I can’t hold it against him if I don’t know who he is.

In theory, at least.

This isn’t the first guy to try to hide his name from a potential date. Another friend of mine was playing reference for another friend of hers, when she got a call at 11pm from a guy who refused to identify himself.

“I could lie and give you a fake name, but I’m being honest and telling you that I won’t tell,” he explained proudly.

“Why won’t you tell?”

“Well, I don’t necessarily want it getting back to her, the kinds of things I’m asking about her.”

“Does that strike you as fair? That you show up on a date knowing highly personal information about her that she doesn’t know you know?”

“Well—“

“And do you really think she has so many guys looking into her at the same time that she won’t be able to figure out who you are?”

“Well—“

“And I will also mention that you called at 11pm, and the only reason I took your call was because I thought it was an emergency because who calls a stranger and a mother at 11pm on a work night?!”

“Well if you’re not going to tell her anything nice about me, I guess there’s no point in this call.”

That was actually what I told my friend, regarding my own non-identifying would-be suitor.

“You don’t need to bother calling back with answers to any of his questions. I’m not interested in a guy who won’t stand by his actions. You can tell him he’s officially nixed, whoever he is.”

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Not Something to Sniff At

I suppose I should weigh in on this Jewish Press article that has so many people in a tizzy. (Thanks Mother for alerting me; thanks O and everyone else for producing it.)

The article, in brief, is about a mother of a short-term learner who went to an event for hopeful wives of long-term learners, and was affronted by how little glitz she saw in the room. The aidels were barely wearing makeup, most had not chemically straightened their hair, and none seemed to have a nose job or stomach staple. Really, how did they expect to get married?

She goes on to describe how her life changed once she put her own proboscis under the knife, including her switch from single to married status.

Well, you can imagine the resultant horror among the JP readership. She lopped off her nose? Our European ancestors, in the alte heim, were persecuted for that nose! And she just ditches it because it became inconvenient?  The very idea!

Moreover, that nose she discards so carelessly was once considered quite regal. It was good enough for Caesar. It was good enough for Augustus and Octavius. It was even good enough for Caligula, who had no compunctions about taking a knife—or even a sword—to anything he didn’t like. And he left his nose untouched, thank you very much.

Caligula's Schnozz

Caligula's Sniffer

But it’s the betrayal that bothers me the most. I don’t know how you feel about it, but my nose has been with me since birth, through thick and thin. It’s the first thing to greet me when I gaze into the mirror in the morning. It has always let me know when my mother was baking, so that I could sneak into the kitchen for a sample. It warned me when the water in camp was sulfuric. It keeps tabs on the milk in the fridge, alerts me when the veggies I forgot in the crisper pass over to the other side, and lets me know when someone has made a fresh pot of coffee in the office.

We’ve grown from these experiences together (although not always at matching rates). I consider my nose an old friend. What kind of person is so cavalier about excising such a loyal companion? If this is how easily she lops off a friend who has been at her side (so to speak) for her entire life, imagine how she treats friends of lesser duration when they become inconvenient. I’m so relieved we didn’t go to school together.

Besides, there is more to a nose than its mere physiognomy. How it is treated, presented, and carried, indeed, the very attitude of its bearer toward it, will create the overall effect of the nose much more than its actual topography. A charming, graceful, feminine woman can carry off a beak of less delicacy than herself. The trick is not to walk around with your head hanging in shame, as if your nose is weighing your face down. Carry it with pride! Pride for your heritage, pride for its regal cast, and pride because it’s a part of you—and you’re worth being proud of. However, I will concede, that if a woman is still single at 23 she should probably go to charm school to learn a more demur carriage and delicate bearing.

Cleopatra's Beak

Cleopatra's Beak

Another technique is to remove the focus from your nose entirely by being so lively and flirtatious that nobody can spare the time to focus on your schnozz. There is an ancient Egyptian saying: “She who can flirt with the pros can rock any nose.” It dates back to Cleopatra, who, according to legend, was well endowed in the nasal way. And yet she was a talented seductress, seducing no less than J. Caesar himself, who had no shortage of beautiful women chasing him.

How did she do that? Legend relates that when Caesar came to town, Cleo didn’t wait for an invitation. She had herself rolled into a rug and delivered to Julius as a gift. When he unrolled the rug, out she popped, batting her eyelashes, patting down her hair, and asking to hear in person about how he tamed those Gauls.

I recommend that the self-consciously benosed maidel try something similar for her next date. Instead of shyly sidling nose-first into the dining room where your date is making polite small-talk with your parents, wrap yourself in the living room rug and roll in with a bang! Leap out and announce, “I’m he-ere!” Ask him something flattering and personal. Start the date like this and do you think he’ll even glance at your nose for a second? I sincerely doubt it.

JP's unairbrushed schnozz

JP's unairbrushed schnozz

There is one more non-surgical treatment for an unbeautiful nose. Think of the many famous people who have had unartistic sniffers. Due to rhinophyma, JP Morgan’s nasal organ was a different shape and color every day. Yet he was well beloved by his two wives, four children, and the ever-insolvent US government. And consider one of the more famous big schnozzes of the silver screen: Barbra Streisand. Although her nose was the subject of public criticism, she married twice. From this we can derive a very simple solution to the nosily impaired—one simple step that will have men beating a path to your door: become rich and famous. Because, it is well known, you cannot be both rich and ugly at the same time.

And that is the real way to solve the shidduch crisis.

Beautiful Barb as God Bequeathed Her

Beautiful Barb as God Bequeathed Her

Repost: Why the Pre-Date Interview Should Be Instituted

While, in theory, I understand that people do rigorous research to defray the expenses of dating, sometimes it just gets ridiculous. Calling a dozen neighbors and formers teachers to ask questions they are not qualified to answer is just an effort in self-inflicting headaches. Also, it’s a pain in the neck for my friends, people who used to like me before they had to start answering detailed questions about my psyche.

Which is why I once petulantly suggested that mothers with tough questions ask me, instead of pestering my poor references. I still think that’s a good idea. If you’re going to be a difficult mother (or the mother of a difficult son, as was this case), just go straight to the source, and spare the collateral.

Of course, some questions are difficult to answer for more innate reasons…

Repost: Why You Went to College

This is funny. But true. A friend of mine visited a shadchan who confided that she prides herself on never giving advice. But for this friend, she felt that she just had to break her rule.

You see, Friend was not in college. Friend had a decent job and an active social life, and Friend was enjoying this. She felt no particular rush – after all, she was only six months post-seminary. She couldn’t be expected to know what she wanted to do with life yet, and why pay for expensive college courses while she figured it out?

“You have to be studying something,” the shadchan said. “The mothers always ask. It could be anything – it doesn’t have to be college. Take a course. But you need to be studying something or They won’t like it.”