I think I’ve posted more about photographs than almost any other topic, to the point where I’m rather bored by it. But it is freshly indignifying to people all the time, so here’s a post about girls and boys and pictures.
I’m finally really getting the problem with showing photos to someone before they go out. I reach this conclusion via SYAS, where the photo is the first thing to slam me in the eyes when I get a new suggestion. And yeah, I can’t seem to help mentally sketching the guy in my head based on superficial impressions.
“Whoa, look at that Adam’s apple… I bet he’s the tall, gawky, nerdy type. Ooh look, he’s a programmer. Who’s surprised, raise your hand. Probably a little socially awkward with a ‘hyuk hyuk’ laugh… okay, shut up, Bad4. You’re really being obnoxious. Who, me? I wasn’t being negative. Nerds are cute. I’ll be able to buy one of those “I love my geek” shirts from ThinkGeek.com. Look! He likes museums… and political events. What does it mean when someone says they ‘like going out to political events’? What’s a political event? Oh gosh, he didn’t use capital ‘i’ in his little personal paragraph. Or commas or apostrophes. Forget it. There are a lot of things I can take. Not txtspk in a dating profile.”
There’s a certain guilty pleasure in being the one doing the judging, but it’s mostly guilt, very little pleasure. I don’t want to be shallow. And my father, who disapproves of anyone seeing pictures of anyone else before dating, is quick to point out that photos are often a poor representation of a person.
“Remember the guy you said looked like a middle-aged burgomaster in his photo? Well, he was a lot better in person, wasn’t he?”
Yeah, totally true. Good thing I hadn’t judged him by his photo.
“So don’t look at the photos,” my father insists. “At all. And take yours down too.”
“I can’t take mine down!” I protest. That would look like I had something to hide. Who would go out with someone who doesn’t have a profile picture?
“My friend’s neighbor’s daughter didn’t have a picture on her SYAS profile,” my mother informs me. “And she got married through it.”
Okay, score one for the anti-photo crowd. I’m still not convinced. Yes, I might be more willing to go out with someone if I had no photo instead of an awful one, but…
Are my pictures awful? I have no idea. This is not because I didn’t scrape up the best photos available. It’s because, I’ve noticed, people tend to be poor judges of their own photos. You know like those photos people put up on LinkedIn, where they are solemnly gazing off into the distance? The subject means to look visionary, but generally they just look like they have a stomach ache.
In my opinion, nobody should put up a profile picture until they’ve taken an extensive poll of all their acquaintances and a few random strangers to ascertain that the snapshot both resembles them and is also flattering (if possible). I have not done this. Making such a fuss over a profile picture would be distinctly uncool. Also, I’d need to take more photos.
So, pictures up – or pictures down? I don’t know. But til then, I will try to squinch my eyes shut and not look too hard at the pictures. Cuz judging by the pictures would be shallow. But those lowercase “i”s? Sorry, they’re still a dealbreaker.
I would like to bring your attention to a promising new shidduch writer. She’s in Hamodia, but don’t let that give you pause. This is no long-married woman complaining because her daughter is 24 and single. It’s a sharp-tongued woman, recently married at 34, who knows how to make her point on the thin line of civil indignation between anger and apology. The name of the column is “Single as a Dollar Bill” and she (DB) has some great stories. This week she mentioned the shadchan who had her play car service driver so the shadchan could use the trip from Long Island to Brooklyn to get to know her.
That wasn’t the star tale, though. The really good discussion starter was the one about the time she submitted her photo and profile to a shadchan and then arrived for an interview to find the woman sobbing at her dining room table. DB was a little taken aback, naturally. But it only got worse when the shadchan explained why she was so upset.
She had just finished an interview with one of her “Best Bochurim.” BB was a guy with alle gutte ma’alos: the looks, the yichus, the star rating in his yeshiva, brains, blah blah. And after sifting through all the photos in the shadchan’s files he’d complained, “Why don’t you get any pretty girls?”
“I don’t know why I don’t!” wailed the shadchan to our heroine. Which disturbed DB muchly.
Good4 was reading this aloud to Also4 and myself, and at this point she had to interrupt. “What’s the big deal? He wasn’t insulting her specifically.”
“He still called her ugly, even indirectly,” protested Also4, knight errant (or at least mentch). “And even worse, the shadchan agreed.”
“I’m still trying to figure out why the shadchan is so enamored with this jerk,” I said, poking Good4 to make her keep reading.
It turns out this was column #2, so we had to go back and dig up the back issues to find the first one. This one revolved around the recently married DB being told that singles are bitter because they don’t have a married life “Like you and I do.” Also4 enjoyed it particularly. As a single guy in his late 20s in Israel, he’s subject to plenty of pity, condescension, unwanted favors, and advice. I have a feeling we’re going to have to cut out future articles and mail them to him.
Anyway, as of these two articles I’m a fan. I look forward to more good horror stories and acerbic commentary in the future. You go girl.
A would-be shadchan called my mother about a prospective date.
“Can you fax me Bad4’s profile and a picture?”
My mother made reluctant noises. She doesn’t like this whole “send a photo” business.
“He’s looking for a really beautiful girl, so he needs to see a picture first,” the shadchan explained.
At this point I would have terminated the conversation, saying that the only person who consistently refers to me as beautiful is my grandmother, and she has both a great deal of bias and cataracts. But my mother, bless her, is more zealous for my pride, and she continued the conversation, asking about the young man. He is in college and yeshiva and plans to go to law school.
“Well, I’ll ask my daughter,” my mother said. “Can you provide a profile and a photograph?”
“What do you need a photograph for?” asked the would-be shadchan, baffled.
“Just to know what he looks like,” replied my mother vaguely.
“That’s not how it’s done,” the shadchan worried. “She’ll see him plenty on the first date.”
“True, but she may not want to, if he’s lacking in visual appeal.”
“I just wouldn’t feel comfortable asking him,” the shadchan fretted. “I don’t think he’d be willing.”
My mother insisted.
“This is very unreasonable of you.”
“Well, then I’m afraid he’s just not for us,” my mother said regretfully, and that was that.
You go, Ma!