Daydream

“You know that awkward feeling you get when a woman is going on about the shidduch travails of her 21-year-old daughter, and you realize that you probably shouldn’t mention that you’re 25?”

Thus questioned a friend, caught in  a waiting room with a distressed mother.

“Yes,” I agreed. And immediately my mind drifted into snarky mode, and I started imagining what I might say in that situation, if I had been there, and if I wasn’t a sweet, mild-mannered aidel maidel.

I would lean forward, nodding gravely. I would agree that it’s very difficult for a girl to get a date. “And it only gets worse,” I’d assure her. “When I was 22, they started setting me up with all rejects–the guys who’d already been rejected by every girl in the tri-state area, and for good reason. It’s a boy’s world and a young girl’s world. Unless an older girl has connections, she can’t get a date with anyone less than neurotic.”

Or maybe I could take a more comforting tack. “It’s not so bad,” I could tell her. “I’m friends with many normal, beautiful, successful, well-adjusted women who are–” [lower my voice] “Thirty or even older who have great lives, even without husbands. They live together in crowded apartments and talk about dating at least once a day, but I don’t think too many of them cry themselves to sleep at night. Not too many. And they have such great careers. They go on exciting vacations. They bike and run for tzedakah organizations to get out their frustration. Sometimes, I think my married friends are secretly jealous. Who wants to be pregnant anyway? It looks so uncomfortable.”

Or I could be holy: “Maybe it’s just not meant to be. Not everyone has the same tafkid in life, you know. Maybe Hashem is saving her for something grander than marriage.”

Or I could…

My mind wanders, imagining the most obnoxious ways to comfort a woman who thinks single and 21 is a tragedy. But of course I could never say it. After all, she really believes it.

So, what do you tell someone who thinks her daughter is suffering at 21? What can you tell someone to convince them that life is not over if you’re still single at 23?

 

 

Old Questions

Her: So, what are you looking for in a guy?

Me: All the usual – heart, lungs, kidney, spleen… preferably in the right places with no extra things growing. I don’t usually look myself, though. I leave that for his radiologist. Why?

 

Sometimes I get bored of answering the same questions over and over. Especially when they have no real bearings on outcome.

Classifieds in New-Shidduchville

My Shidduchville correspondent got married a while ago and went to where all Shidduchville graduates go. Recently, she spied a classified in a local circular.

Wanted – Looking For a Shidduch for my amazing friend.  no space to describe her. Do you know of a great guy around 30, a ben torah,  who wants to live in israel? lets talk.

Well, there’s details for you. Although, truly, this seems to be how very many dates are set up. “Amazing Friend, meet Thirty-Year-Old Ben Torah. Talk about how you both want to live in Israel.”

Then again, I shouldn’t complain. There are shadchanim that require you to fill out multi-page questionnaires that include everything from where your parents grew up (Relevance, any?) to what school you want to send your children too (Because that will never change).

Is there a happy medium somewhere? I think so. But don’t ask me for details. I’m currently writing a mini-essay on The Role of My Rabbi in My Life for a shadchan.

For the Peanut Gallery: Offensive Defensiveness

This came up over Shabbos:

You’re on a date and your partner is grilling you aggressively. (“What are you learning? Who do you learn with? How much do you cover?” or “What are you studying? Why? What do you plan to do with it?”) You’re pretty sure it stems from lack of experience and nervousness. You’d like to gently deflect the questions and change the course of the conversation to something lighter and friendlier without offending the other party or making them think you have something to hide.

What do you do?

For Women Mostly

A couple of posts back I kvetched about guys who shove the onus of date planning onto the woman. Two gentlemen replied that if a guy plans the date, he will be perceived as “controlling.” Now, I know there’s a lot of narishkeit that they tell us females with regard to dating. But I’ve never come across a genuine piece of narishkeit from the male side until this. At least, I think it is. But before I say anything that I’ll have to eat later, let me ask all the dating women out there:

Have you ever felt like a guy was “controlling” because he planned a date?

Have you ever felt like a guy was “controlling” on a date, and if so, what did he do to deserve the label?

Hall of Fame: Even Unto the Fourth Generation

I’m a third generation American with roots in New York back to the 1900s, shomer Torah umitzvos straight down the line. I’m rather proud of that – I would like to think I’ve inherited some of the character and strength of conviction that kept my forbears religious 35 years before the shtetl transplanted itself to Brooklyn. But I wouldn’t bank on it. I wouldn’t bet on my inheriting much of anything non-genetic from my great grandparents, and even that’s been pretty well diluted.

Which is why I was tickled to hear that someone looking into my brother asked, among many other equally pertinent questions, “Why did his great grandparents come to the United States?”

I’m grateful they asked, because otherwise I would never have learned the answers. As you shall see, they are quite relevant, and you will be able to predict my own behavior based on their reasons:

Great grandfather #1: He was living in the spiritual oasis of the Russian army, when one day, while parading through St. Petersburg, he had enough. The parade of soldiers wheeled left at the corner, and he kept marching straight, and didn’t stop until he put a continent and an ocean between himself and a court martial.

Great grandfather #2: He was collecting money in the United States for Telz Yeshiva when Telz Yeshiva ceased to exist. Since the circumstances surrounding the abrupt non-existence of Telz weren’t exactly pleasant, he brought over his family and settled down.

Great grandfather #3: His father took a look around at what was happening to Jewish settlements in Eastern Europe under Cossack reign, and noted that the life expectancy was astoundingly short. Decided to follow the divine commandment of “vichai bahem” and took off for more salubrious parts.

Great grandfather #4: Ran to the United States from Jerusalem to escape the Turkish draft during WWI. He settled down, opened shop, and started sending money back to the yishuv in Yerushalayim. After the war, they told him not to come back because his checks were more valuable than his physical presence. Additionally, the haskala was thoroughly ravaging the Yerushalmi “shtetl,” and in terms of spirituality, the United States was probably better than the Old City.

I find these snapshots of history very interesting, but I’m not sure how much they say about me or my brother. (Especially since I didn’t even know them until yesterday.)

However, as scandalous as my great grandparents were, I know of at least one great, great grandparent who was far worse, so it’s a mercy that these shidduch researchers, like God, stopped at four generations. My Yerushalmi great, great grandfather got tired of watching his wife starve and his children go barefoot, so he took some spare change and lit out for the territories. He traded with the Northern Plains Indians for a year and returned to Yerushalayim with enough gold napoleons to last him six years, and that included some serious real estate investments; he bought back most of Har Hazeisim from the Arabs. After six years, he returned to the wild Midwest for a second go ‘round. He rode all day, and slept at night with his tallis and tefillin under his head. While I would like to think he never missed a minyan, I am forced to contemplate the possibility that he might have missed just a few. Which is why I think it’s best if we keep this relative under wraps. Who knows what people might think? It would be badforshidduchim.

Of course, if he’d left those gold napoleons for my dowry, they might, like Hashem, have counted the good for a thousand generations.

Or at least until the gold ran out.