Why I Don’t Speak to Shadchanim

…because, these days, sometimes I can’t help but sound like the crazy old lady I’m doomed to become.

I have not willingly sought out a shadchan in years, but for some reason they’ve been calling me these days. The following conversation was transcribed about 10 minutes ago. I admit, I was cranky. I was overtired, had half a cupcake for supper and I was trying, unsuccessfully, to make sense of the fees on my 401k. Not really the best time to get a phone call that goes like this:

Me: Hello?

Him: Hi, I’m a shadchan. Can you hold on?

Me: Sure, I guess.

Him: Thanks. [disappears for a few minutes] Hello, thanks for holding.

Me: Yeah, no problem.

Him: So I got your information from another shadchan and I have a few questions. Are you still 26?

Me: No, I’m 27 these days.

Him: And what do you do?

Me: My Job.

Him: I see. So are you looking for a more modern guy?

Me: I don’t know what that means.

Him: I mean do you want someone who is more modern.

Me: I don’t think we’ve been properly introduced. Can you please explain this to me? Like, what’s your name?

Him: My name is My Name.  I’m trying to complete your profile so I can set you up.

Me: [In my head] I really don’t think that is going to happen, if you divide your guys into “more modern” and “less modern.” [out loud] I guess I’m looking for a YU type. Halachic Man, not yeshivish.

Him: Left wing YU or right wing?

Me: [sigh] I don’t know.

Him: Moderate, then.

Me: Sounds good. I’m all for moderate.

Him: And your parents? Are they the same as you?

Me: I… [to myself] Is this question objectively objectionable, or is it just me?

Him: I mean, are they to the left or to the right of you?

Me: [to myself] In family pictures, it’s one on either side. [aloud] I guess to the right?

Him: Hm. Okay. And you live OOT?

Me: Yes, I do.

Him: And your parents are there too?

Me: No, they’re IT.

Him: Oh, where IT?

Me: In Their Neighborhood.

Him: Is that Flatbush or Boro Park?

Me: Neither. Or either, if you prefer.

Him: I’ll put down Flatbush. And why aren’t you there?

Me: Because my job is here.

Him: Oh I see. And do you have relatives out in OOT?

Me: No.

Him: You board? Have an apartment?

Me: An apartment.

Him: And are you willing to relocate?

Me: No, not really. I like it here.

Him: [doubtfully] So I need to find a guy who is willing to relocate. Or maybe somebody local… Hm. I don’t know.

Me: [ticked off by the implication that no such people can be found] Tell you what, if he’s got a better job than me, I’ll consider moving.

Him: What’s your salary?

Me: Decent.

Him: Decent for a woman is not very much.

Me: Excuse me?

Him: Well you know, women get paid less out there.

Me: [snappishly] On average, when both the man and woman have the same job. But seeing as most of the last dozen guys I went out with were all unemployed or underemployed or employed in low-paying fields, it really seems unfair that they all expected me to relocate.  Seriously. Even the 35-year-old living with his parents because he can’t afford his own rent. I think he planned to house us both in their basement or something.

Him: Well, okay. I’m glad I have your information. Don’t call me, I’ll call you.

Me: No fear. Thank you. Good night.

Him: Good night.

Sometimes, I think, you can gauge how likely you are to get a good match from a shadchan based on the sorts of questions they ask. I once had a conversation that went like this:

Him: [To wife] What do you think of NerdyGuy? I taught him in middle school. He’s single now, in Touro, studying accounting. Brilliant boy. So many ideas. He once brought in a kiddie pool for a carnival game and carried it all the way home on his head! Can you believe it?

Me: What’s wrong with that?

Him: Exactly!

Me: [sigh] Sounds like a great idea.

Friday Repost: More Shadchanim

Personally, I think trying to discuss your ideals in marriage at a wedding is a recipe for disaster. (See this item about sign language.)

But sometimes, it’s just the people you’re talking to who are a disaster… Like this poor friend of mine, who I’m glad to say, has since married a guy who matched her description exactly, and the Women in Black’s not at all.

Singles (the Bills & the People)

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.

Shadchanim and Suits

It was not so very long ago that I made fun of young women who visited shadchanim while ostensibly unwinding from the stresses of life. Thus, it is with deep embarrassment that I confess to… <Blush/>

To visiting… <Deep blush/>

On vaca… <Covers face/>

But I can justify it! I mean, I never go anywhere near that Town. It was a once-in-three-years opportunity! I know it’s against the rules of vacation, but it would have been foolish not to!

Methinks I doth protest too much.

Good4 says I must be getting desperate, but I would have phrased it differently. Perhaps that I have a heightened desire to close the single chapter of my life or an intensified awareness of the drawbacks of being unpaired at this stage of my life, or… Whatever.

To my own credit, I would like to point out that it was not part of the original vacation plans. I only thought of it while in the car driving away from NYC. Which spawned a problem of its own, immediately grasped by my ever-perspicacious mother, who asked, when I related the tale, “What did you wear?”

An excellent question – one that I pondered throughout the week of vacation. When you’ve packed a small carry-on full of t-shirts and long black skirts, what do you wear to visit a shadchan?

People make fun of women who pack fat suitcases full of clothes and shoes for every occasion, but it really isn’t a laughing matter. You simply don’t know what situation will arise, and invariably it will require clothing you didn’t pack.

A woman can never pack too many pairs of shoes.

I was contemplating that truism while surveying in dismay the three pairs I’d brought along. The hiking boots, the water shoes, and the sneakers.

Granted, the sneakers weren’t too bad. They were my LBS – Little Black Sneakers, the preferred footwear alternative for women who wear black socks. They would have to do. I hoped the shadchan wouldn’t notice.

The skirts – well, a long black skirt is respectable, isn’t it? It’s not like I even own any slinky skirts or pre-worn denim or anything. And as for shirts – well, thank goodness there was a sky-blue polo among the sweats-gray and orange t-shirts. Really all I needed was a quick stop in a pharmacy for some mousse (thank goodness I keep hair clips on my knapsack zipper pulls) and I’d be good to go.

Well, good enough to go.

At this point in my narrative my mother and Good4 are silent, positively riveted with – well, some strong emotion. The wonder in my mother’s expression is doubtless admiration for my resourcefulness. Or else uncertainty over whether I’d done myself more good or harm. But none of us had taken into account the view from the other side of the dining room table. That is to say: what does a shadchan wear when cramming a last-minute appointment into her busy evening? Hm… Never thought about that one.

When a nervous young lady, dressed to the nines, is arriving in your house, I guess you can’t really come out to interview her in your housecoat and plush bunny slippers. The pressure runs both ways.

“I’m so glad,” the shadchan confessed to me. “I felt bad about not changing into my sheitel and shoes, but then I see you…” her hand gesture takes in my sneakers and hemline. I murmur my excuses, but they seem unnecessary. She isn’t rudely pointing out my under-dressed state. She is contentedly pointing out the happy coincidence (Good4 would shout “Hashgacha pratis story!” at this point) of our being mutually dressed down on this occasion.

I wonder if, in the future, if  I ever visit another shadchan, I should call ahead and offer a sort of truce: I’ll dress down if you dress down?