To Know or Not to Care?

I have received a correction on the matter of the non-identifying caller  from another reference of mine. Apparently, he wasn’t trying to hide his name from me so I wouldn’t know who had done the asking. He intended to hide the fact that he had called at all, so I wouldn’t be disappointed when nothing came of it. There must have been a miscommunication or misunderstanding, and it got passed along to me as “someone called, can’t tell you who.”

In other words, he wasn’t being creepy and evasive, he was being nice.

So I guess I owe him an apology for suspecting him wrong. While I do usually operate on the assumption that most people aren’t trying to be jerks, I have had enough experience with no-name callers to be predisposed to suspicion.

If we were back in summer camp, we’d say I owed him a brocha. So my wish for him is that he should waste less time looking into people who aren’t right for him.

But really, did he have to do that?

To be honest, I don’t care if I never find out that someone has looked into me. I assume it happens every now and then. But the idea of someone deliberately hiding the fact from me in order to preserve my tender feeling strikes me as, well, a tad condescending. I mean, I’m not a little kid any more. If I can’t handle rejection by the ripe old age of 27, I’m in trouble.

But that could just be me. I have objected to being treated like a child ever since I was a child. In fact, my very first memory, from when I was two and shouldn’t have any memories, was of getting upset at my parents for not taking me seriously. I then spent the proceeding six years resenting relatives who called me cute and pinched my cheek because that’s not the sort of thing you say and do to someone you respect. Clearly, I have taken myself a little too seriously for about as long as I have had a sense of self.

So I decided to find out via proper research methods: is this subterfuge necessary? Or does it just complicate people’s lives unnecessarily?

Study on the Dating Sensitivities of Orthodox Jewish Women between the Ages of 22 and 31 with Regard to Men They Have Never Met But Who Have Already Rejected Them

Methodology: Text messages were sent to all the singles in my Contacts list. In order to avert pool bias toward a Bad4-Friend-Type, I also contacted Good4’s friends. Singles were also asked to pass the questions along to their friends and return the results.

Singles were asked two questions, sequentially. The second question was only asked after the first had been answered.

The question were: “If a guy looked into you and said no, would you want to know, or would you rather not know?”

This was followed up by the question: “Would you be hurt to find out about it?”

Sample Size: 11 singles, 5 under the age of 24, and 6 over the age of 24.

Results: I’ve divided the respondents into “Below 24” and “Above 24” to see if there are age-related differences.

Results for the question “Would you want to know or would you rather not know?”

Below 24:

“Prefer not to know at all. Except for the occasional times that he said no cuz you’re too frum or something because then it’s flattering instead of insulting.”

“I don’t care. It probably depends on the person because some people want to know that people are suggesting things even if nothing comes from it. And some would be hurt to hear people said no. There’s no better way, in my opinion.”

“Rock and hard place. Probably to know he said no.”

“Yes I’d like to know if you aren’t asking this hypothetically. If I had no idea I wouldn’t care.”

“Don’t really care either way. If he said no, it’s not gonna go anywhere.”

Above 24:

“[I would want to] Know.”

“I’d like to know that someone tried to do something on my behalf. But given the above options [know or don’t know], I’d rather not know.”

“To me it makes no difference. Unless I personally know the family/boy, I don’t care if he said no; he’s a stranger.”

“Nothing about it at all. Obv. You know about my low self esteem.”

“Probably know nothing.”

“Honestly I would not care.. I would assume looks, height or something superficial. Honestly if people are saying bad things and the idiot is listening, then forget that dude anyhow…”

Since everything looks prettier in a graph:

Slide1

Results for the question: Would you be hurt to find out?

Below 24:

“Nope. Family policy is “one closer.”

“Depends if I knew him or was desperate to go out with him. But I will get over it.”

“That would depend on how I felt about the guy.”

“Depends if I would have wanted to go out with him. Not so hurt, but a lot of rejection over time is hurtful, yes.”

Above 24:

“More annoyed than hurt. But I’d also rather know the guy said no as closure. How often does someone suggest a possibility and then leave it hanging – did he say no? Did the shadchan just drop the ball?”

““Can’t be uber-offended if he says no without meeting me. I am not that fragile. And then I know not to pursue him in the future. And I know my friends were thinking of me.”

“It would bruise my ego a little but if I don’t know the guy that’s not the worst rejection in the world. Def not the same as being interested and then they say no.”

“Yes, I’d wonder what was wrong with me.”

“No, I am currently going out with someone. Even if I wasn’t, I have the philosophy that if someone doesn’t think I am right for them, it is nothing against me (it just means we wouldn’t be right for each other). One more down. 😉

“No.”

“No, I don’t recall that [ever] happening.”

“No, why should I care if someone I don’t know said no?”

In beautified form:

Slide4

Discussion:

It appears that most women are not quite as delicate as supposed. Only one woman said she’d be upset to be “rejected.” The ones who said “It depends” specified that they’d have had to have previously agreed and truly wanted to date the gentlemen. Notably, these were almost all under the age of 24. A towering majority of the singles over 24 simply said “No.”

Conclusion: 

It appears that when dating a woman who has no prior knowledge that you are investigating her, you need not worry that she will be saddened by your “rejection” of her. If she has previously agreed to go out with you, and is of young and tender age, you may want to tread delicately. If she is old and hard boiled, forget it. She doesn’t care about you.

Bad4 Hits the Phones

I recently had the privilege and fun of making some research calls on behalf of a friend. I volunteered for the job; I thought it would be fun. Instead, I discovered that I did not miss my calling in undercover spy work. Subtly extracting information from a suspecting subject is not my strong suite.

Below, “She” is the Single on behalf of whom I made the calls. Her line is the information that Single requested I get about the subject, Mr. Adam Adamson.  “Me,” my name, I call myself. My line is what I say to the reference on the phone. “Re” is the reference I was calling.  Her/his line is the gist of what I extracted. Me to She: what I relayed back to Single.

 

She: “How does he spend his free time?”

Me: “So…tell me about Adam Adamson.”

Re: “Well, he’s a great guy, a wonderful learner, just back from Israel. Always up for anything and always busy with something. You know, he always keeps busy on the side earning a little. Working in a store, delivering groceries, giving rides…”

Me to She: “He doesn’t waste a second. A masmid of life.”

 

She: “Find out what he plans to do with his life.”

Me: “…so, he seems like a pretty motivated guy. Where’s he heading?”

Re: “Well, right now he’s still learning and plans to do that for a while. After that, I haven’t heard.”

Me back to She: “Got none.”

 

She: “Find out if his family is normal.”

Me: “So, you know the Adamson family very well?”

Re: “Oh yes. A warm, wonderful, loving family.”

Me back to She: “Sounds a heckuvalot nicer than your family.”

 

She: “Find out if people like him.”

Me: “So how do you know Adam?”

Re: “He’s good friends with my son and he comes over often. Such a nice boy. He runs errands for us all the time. I’d set him up with my daughter, but he’s so close with my son that it would be weird.”

Me back to She: “His reference likes him. That’s good enough, right?”

 

She:  “Find out if he’s chilled or uptight.”

Me: “Er….” “Um….” “So.” “How is working with him?”

Re: “He’s great! He’s up for anything. But if he thinks something is over the top he can stop it without sounding disrespectful.”

Me to She: “I dunno what kind of camp he worked in, but it sounds like da bomb.”

 

She: “Find out if he’s a mensch.”

Me: “So, is he a mentsch?”

Re: “The definition of the world.”

Me to She: “This is harder than I thought.”

 

Me to She: “So? He sounds amazing. If he was five years older I’d date him myself. When are you going out?”

She to Me: “Not interested.”

Remarkable Replies

We often make fun of dumb shidduch questions. Because, let’s face it, they can be strange. What animal would she be? Why did his grandparents move to the USA? Why did she go to that seminary if she’s supposed to be smart? But sometimes the answers you get are even stranger.

Like the mother of a son who was somewhat put out to be told: “She would scrub toilets to support Torah!”

An excellent sentiment, no doubt. The sort of thing aidel bais yaakov maidels are encouraged to anticipate with great joy on a regular basis. But the mother of this son had not graduated bais yaakov recently. Thus, she found the image of her daughter-in-law on her knees enthusiastically scrubbing toilets for a living while her son learned a little off-putting.

While investigating a young woman for Also4, my mother once found herself listening to a description of the perfect family: nine children, the mother a loving housewife, the father in the bais midrash studying. A charming family portrait in muted oil colors. Only one thing was missing.

“Uh, how do they pay their bills?” Mother asked.

“The apartment is paid for,” the neighbor said. “There aren’t many expenses after that.”

“Really,” the Mater said. The conversation was beginning to leave the world she knew, but had not yet dived into the Twilight Zone. “But even so, they must have some sort of income. Nine children?”

“Well, not all of them are still at home,” the neighbor pointed out. “Really, they don’t need much.”

My mother raised a mere five children herself, and never got the impression that we didn’t need much. Especially when we were teenagers and it was supper time. Or lunch time. Or breakfast time. Or snack time. Or any time between.

“Not much, but something!”

“Well, it’s not for you or I to ask,” the neighbor said primly.

Okay, we have arrived. Play the theme music.

“Really,” said the Mater.

“That’s code for ‘he sends naïve yeshiva bochurim to Japan with drugs,’” I suggested. (I was at the kitchen table having a mid-morning, post-snack nibble.)

“They do live in Bnei Brak,” the Mother said thoughtfully.

We tried to put a positive spin to vagrancy. It was difficult. I  mean, that was a common conviction of Jazz era gangstas. It bodeth not well.

Of course it is possible that they wear clothing from a gemach, eat out of Yad Eliezer packages, use electricity only for emergencies, and live off their child tax credits. That would be better than trafficking illegal substances – by a photo-finish margin.

So Also4 went out with the Future Convict’s Daughter.

Nothing came of it.

We were all very relieved.

Backstabbing References

There’s a personality of folk who have very narrow definitions of acceptability. I’m not talking about any particular religious subset, as you can find people with narrow definitions of “us” almost everywhere. But life gets really fun when you step outside their line in the sand… and they’re playing at your shadchan.

Take the aidel knaidel Friend who decided to attend Brooklyn College instead of, say, Touro, Stern, or one of the various fake options. She knew it was a controversial step, but she didn’t realize how much until a former high school classmate called up with a shidduch idea. It was for a cousin of hers who was finishing a degree in the University of Southern Mississippi.

“I was like, does he have a chavrusa down there?” Friend related. “And she was like, ‘I don’t know, does it matter?’ So I go online and do some googling and I can’t even turn up any Reform shuls down there, let alone an orthodox one. There isn’t even a Chabad in Mississippi. So I’m like, ‘Why is he down there?’ and she’s like, ‘I don’t know.’ So I’m like, ‘Well find out and get back to me, okay?’ And she never did.”

‘Course it works the other way. Like the guy from Lawrence who decided to go to YU and whose aunt decided he had flipped out and kept trying to set him up with girls from Borough Park. Talk about confused.

Oh, it’s always fun when people try to set you up with the wrong sort of guy (“is he wearing torn cut-offs in that photo or is it my imagination?”) but it can get downright scary when such people are in your reference list. Thus found out the Friend who kept hearing that people were looking into her but never getting a date.

“Oh well, I guess it was never meant to be,” she assured herself while going on with her dateless life.

Until she received a worried phone call from Reference #4. “Friend,” Ref#4 said urgently, “What have you been up to?!”

“Oh the usual,” Friend answered. “Shopping, working, studying… why?”

“Not that,” Ref#4 dismissed, “I mean why do people think you’re modern?”

“What?”

“I keep getting shidduch calls from women who all say that they’ve heard that you’re very modern and they’re worried that you’re not right for their boys.”

Friend mulled that over in a shocked silence for a few moments. Granted, there had been the day she’d worn pink paisley rain boots, and one of her new skirts didn’t have a pleat it in anywhere, and she worked in downtown Manhattan and she’d been seen walking out of the Avenue J library with a DVD but… Seriously?

She passed a sleepless night performing a cheshbon hanefesh. Maybe her high school teachers wouldn’t cite her as a role model, but she wasn’t modern. (Whatever that meant: she knew she didn’t fit her own definition of it.) Morning found her quite decided: it wasn’t her fault. Someone was spreading rumors.

It was like living inside  a serialized Jewish novel. Her shidduch chances were being destroyed by a malignant gossip-mongerer. Someone was out to get her. Her life would be ruined by vicious slander and she’d be an old spinster one day visiting the nursing home for companionship when an ancient crone would come beg her for forgiveness before she died, admitting that she (the old crone) had been the one to tell everyone that she (Friend) was modern.

The most obvious place to start looking was her references list. So she started at the top, making friendly phone calls, discussing oh, life, the universe, and everything, and also all the mothers who had been calling about her recently…

It was Ref#3 who said, “Yes, and they were all planning to learn. I told them you weren’t interested.”

Whoa. Culprit identified!

“Um, what gave you that idea?”

“You did. Remember that conversation we had two months ago when you said that you weren’t interested in kollel learners?”

“Yeah, but I meant long-term learners. Not guys keeping regular sedarim and maybe learning a year or two after marriage.”

They worked out the little misunderstanding to the best that they could and Friend moved Ref#3 to the bottom of the list. So much for the malignant gossiper. Why does melodrama only happen in novels?

What Most of My ‘Suggestions’ Sound Like

Don’t you love the way people always have the perfect guy for you… and don’t know a thing about him? I sometimes feel like certain people just automatically think “smart, offbeat – hey, let’s set him up with Bad4!” That might be enough for them, but it’s not really enough for me.

Person: I have a guy for you, Bad4.

Me: So tell me about him.

P: Well, he’s really smart.

Me: Really. How?

Now, I ask this because experience has taught me that “really smart” can be roughly translated as “ability to talk about things I don’t understand.” The exact smartness level indicated is then a relative variable dependent upon the knowledge base of the speaker. For the average special ed teacher, for example, “smart” can mean “he took Intro to Physics and won’t let anybody forget it.”

P: At the bar mitzvah where he met my brother, he was talking about how the band could save money by turning the vibrations from their music into electricity.

M: Hm.

I say “Hm” because I’m not exactly impressed yet. What kind of obsessive geek subjects a captive audience to his hair-brained electricity-saving scheme? And if he were really smart, he would have spent the bar mitzvah sketching the final blueprint on a napkin and avoiding red wine so his shirt would still be white for his meeting with the venture capitalists the next day.

The truth is, I’m sorry to say, too many people with science and math degrees are just big-mouthed show-offs. I’ve heard solid C-students brag about impressing girls at the bar by telling them that their glass of beer is really just a triple integral. If these girls had taken the multivariable calculus course they’d know that this brilliant line about beer glasses is the most basic piece of information you can come out with – liking “cells are the building blocks of life” from bio class.  But they haven’t, so they think these guys are uber-clever.

P: (sees I’m unimpressed) He’s getting a PhD at Cooper Union.

Me: Hm!

On the one hand, “Cooper Union” is a pretty decent indication of smartness. On the other…

Me: Cooper doesn’t have a PhD program.

P: Well, he’s doing something advanced in anthropology there.

Uh oh.

Me: They don’t have an anthropology department.

P: Well, it’s something like that. I’ll find out for you. So do you want to go out with him?

Me: Um… Well… you haven’t really told me anything about him.

P: Well, what else would you want to know?

Me: Is he a mentch? Does he learn? What does he want to be when he grows up? Where’s he from?

P: Oh, I’m not sure. But that’s research stuff – you can find out after he’s looked into you.

Me: Then what exactly are you asking me here? Would I be willing to consider a guy who is smart and who may or may not be pursuing an advanced degree possibly in anthropology or else in Cooper Union? Yes. I’d also consider a guy of average intelligence pursuing a degree in advanced vocal arts at the Julliard School. That’s not make-it-or-break-it information.

P: Okay. I’ll get back to you then.

P is never heard from again. Possibly it’s because I’m being a difficult, unreasonable single. Or maybe she couldn’t find him again.

A Guy Lichened to a Mushroom

Riddle: Why did the lichen go out with the mushroom?

Answer: Because he was a fungi.

Does anyone else get very nervous when they hear that a guy is Fun? Fun guys scare me because, as far as I can tell, Fun guys don’t know how to have fun for less than about $50 an hour. Fun guys run around doing things with speedboats, parachutes, and submachine guns – all things that make you go wide-eyed and “wow that’s so cool” although it’s never seemed cool enough for you to actual waste money on it.

Fun guys don’t really get why you haven’t, though. Possibly it’s because you’re not Fun. They get a kick out of regaling you with tales of their Fun exploits going back to high school when they purchased a $300 motor for their bicycle. And in return, the most you can offer them are relatively parsimonious exploits involving 12-foot-long potato eyes or diet coke and mentos.

I never get very far with Fun guys. In the briefest case, we never went out at all because the shadchan changed her mind after Fun Guy strolled into her house unabashedly wearing a $200 tie. “Maybe he’s not for you after all,” she said.

Fun guys scare me because the fairly innocuous label Fun implies the dreaded label High Maintenance. Guys who need to hop onto jetskis or ATVs on a regular basis in order to feel like they’re enjoying themselves are an Expensive Proposition. I somehow feel confident that my husband and I will have enough to argue about without a signed and sealed guarantee that we’ll also argue over recreational expenses.

It’s not that I don’t get a kick out of adrenaline rushes.  It just doesn’t make my list of necessities for survival. On a tight, newlywed budget, or hampered by containing a miniature human, I could have plenty of Fun with old newspapers and packing tape. To me, Fun can exist without adrenaline.

Whereas, one gets the impression that a Fun guy, deprived of high-end, high-speed, high-altitude, and high-tech Fun, would either lose his identity and melt away into just another dreary, overweight, cubicle gopher, or chafe at the bit and run away, probably in a red sports convertible averaging 106 mph.

And who needs that?

When I try to recall the most memorable moments of my life, they don’t involve speed, height, or fancy equipment. Usually they do involve creating/accomplishing something, learning something, or spending time with people.

Things Bad4 Does or Would Like to Do for Fun:

Make elaborate Purim costumes

Throw parties with interesting new foods or fun themes

Hike in relatively remote wilderness (swim there too [if applicable])

Sing along to a fun song while strumming an air guitar or dancing around the room with a family member

Tap a maple tree and make syrup out of it

Study martial arts

Tease Good4 (maybe this should be #1?)

Bike/roller blade/run with a friend

Kayak around Manhattan (okay, never gonna happen…)

Scuba dive (one day… okay maybe not. But here’s my splurge)

Grow a vegetable garden

Play Settlers of Catan

Water fiiight!

Meet new people and hear about their lives

Read a funny book on a green lawn in a light breeze with a frosted glass of water and a big pile of cookies just an arm’s length away

Play tag (come on… you know you want to!)