This conversation really happened… I watched “I” become “We” in one quick proposal.
I owe you guys an apology.
If you’re reading this, then you’re awesome. You keep coming back, trusting me to put up fresh, interesting content, and I have been letting you down recently. And, unfortunately, I am about to let you down even more.
A couple of years ago I tried writing a VBA program to simulate the dating process. When I ran my code, it got caught in an infinite loop. Taking this as a stamp of realism, I abandoned the virtual dating code and went back to reality’s dating code. I was living in the infinite loop, going out with new guys every few months on an endless reel of first and second dates.
Well, recently, a software developer offered to help me drop out of the loop.
And I accepted.
This makes me an NEF, the butt of my own jokes, and no longer suitable to author this blog. With this post, I tender my resignation, effective immediately. Reposts will continue regularly until they reach today’s date. I sincerely apologize to everyone who is disappointed or inconvenienced in any way and wish you all the best.
PS: Since you are doubtless wondering: Blogging is both bad and good for shidduchim. Sometimes for the same shidduch.
PPS: And sometimes 42 really is the answer.
There have definitely been times when I felt like the girl in the lower left of this photo. I mean, c’mon people! Leave me some single friends? Or at least space yourselves out so I don’t have to listen to all of you gush at once? Who am I supposed to complain to after hanging up from that?
I admit, I feel for her. I have never had to deal with 9 NEFs all at once trying to blind me with their rings. How fortunate am I! I never realized how good I’ve had it.
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?
Lots of people hate on NEFs. They’re flighty, they’re distant, and they don’t shut up about being engaged. But really folks. Look on the bright side. Engaged people are great! For starters, they make you feel wonderful about yourself.
I mean, just for starters, you are a supremely good person for refraining from hitting them over the head. You know, like when they go into teenage angsty detail of their troubles — like that their future mother-in-law suggested that the menfolk wear matching bowties at the wedding — with the same level of apparent trauma that they formerly reserved for being reprimanded by their boss, getting dumped by a great guy, or crashing their car.
And they’re so easy to save! The sanity of an NEF hangs in the balance at all times. If you prevent that balance from tipping, you are her hero. Like when she calls you up at a quarter to five desperate because she has absolutely got to get somewhere and try on a dress tonight or something bad is going to happen (I spaced out for that part). Honestly: the library books aren’t due yet. The bike can wait another day for its tune up. And alternatives to working late are always appreciated. It’s not a big deal! But her fulsome (and slightly embarrassing) thanks make you feel like you just stepped out of a telephone booth in a cape and tights. In a cape and garishly colored opaque tights that probably wouldn’t pass muster at a bais yaakov.
And then they’re entertaining! Sometimes it’s just observationally, as in, “This woman used to be so level-headed, but a double-shot of oxytocin has completely unbalanced her.” Or when she insists that she’s really totally normal and her NEFness is all in your head, “Yes dear, you’re totally normal. This is us sublimating our jealousy into the more socially acceptable gentle mockery.”
Also, the whole bridal industry is set up to cater to nutty NEFs. They love them and encourage them. It’s amusing to be escorted through David’s Bridal by a woman purposefully stroking your NEF’s Eness:
“You don’t have to worry about a thing, I’ll take care of everything today.”
“So have you known Him long? How did you meet?”
“This dress is like a visual love letter.”Did she just SAY that?
It’s generally not nice — or even desirable — to mock your friends. But once your friend is infected by e. Bridus, she’s not really the person you befriended anyway. So it’s open season.
And finally, contemplation and meditation is always a worthy pastime, and NEFs offer you fodder for that as well. After all, if an NEF can get so completely dramatic about something they won’t remember in five years, you have to wonder: are you overreacting about anything in your life? What looms overly large now, but really isn’t significant in the grander scheme of things?
Consider, also, the NEF as a warning on the instability of the human psyche. You think someone is rational and self-aware. Then, next thing, they’re gushing about how sparkly their ring is (sounding rather like your 9-year-old niece), and having meltdowns over bowtie ideas (2-year-old nephew).
Makes me think I’d like to elope.
Thanks to SuperGirl for sending me this Tumblr link. It describes a safety precaution I have to keep in mind as some friends steadily march their way toward engagement.
Knives are just for food.
Knives are just for food.
I really and truly don’t get the whole unofficial engagement thing. Either you’re going to marry a guy, or you’re not, and if you both know that you are, then why pretend it’s not certain?
I also don’t get NMF #17, who bought a ticket home for her l’chaim three weeks in advance, but didn’t get engaged until the chosen date. Hello? That seems quite a length of time to be in suspense.
And I’m not buying the excuse that she wanted her parents around when it happened. I mean, they obviously knew why she was coming home. So she was already engaged, just not admitting it. And if everyone knows, why not admit it? …
…we can go ’round and ’round this loop forever. I will close it off by throwing up my arms and declaring people illogical and slightly cooky. Besides, I’d like to point out, unofficially engaged people are very nearly engaged, which means they’re only one proposal short of losing their senses altogether. One must be forgiving if they seem less than lucid. They’re obviously practicing.
One cheerful byproduct of this unofficial nonsense: it does lead to a delightful expansion of the vocabulary. Because, as a LeahR points out, we now have a young person in a heretofore unidentified state: that of being not-quite-engaged. So, they are not SFs (single friends), nor are they NEFs (newly-engaged friends). They are, she suggests, ANEFs (almost newly-engaged friends; pronounced “Ay-Neff”). They begin to exhibit some of the broader symptoms (being busy most evenings, not returning phone calls, smiling to themselves at odd moments in the conversation), but they don’t yet have anything sparkly on their hand to really trigger an episode.
If you’re lucky, you are let in on the secret by the ANEF, as part of their strategic preparation for their engagement (see link for details). If you’re not in the top tier of informed friends (like I was with NEF #17), then you’ll just have to infer it from their erratic behavior. (Hm… flying home shortly after starting a new job with no vacation allowance built up… odd that. She must really miss her mother’s cooking… or maybe something else?)
Either way, it’s essential to identify when you have an ANEF on your hands. It will prevent untold frustration and sleepless nights wondering if aliens abducted your friend and left one of their own in her body.