Choices, Choices

Kid in a candy shop
My “Dear Abby” account received the following question the other day:

“Do you have a method for deciding who to go out with, when you’ve received 3 suggestions at the same time, each of which is roughly in your ballpark but nothing that makes you jump in excitement…all in equal balance so as to cancel out any clear advantage one has over another?”

Excellent question! Yes, I do. Or maybe I don’t, but the decision is usually made for me. The algorithm goes like this:

Were any of them suggested by an aunt? He could be a one-legged leper with a closet full of dead wives, but if an aunt suggested him, we’re going out. Because my shoulder socket can only take so much torque.

(To be fair, no aunt has ever suggested a one-legged leper.)

Does one of them have a more aggressive shadchan? In the past, I have said “Yes” to one guy, and then gone out with two more before him because their shadchanim were so pushy. It was easier to go out with them than deal with the twice-a-week phone calls and emails.

“So this other boy, are you still going out with him?”

“Um, well, we actually haven’t set up a date yet.”

“Well let me know when you’re done with him.”

“That’s what you said two days ago.”

“And you never got back to me!”

Luckily, they were both 1nDs, so there was no overlap.

If neither of these decision-makers take the difficult task off my hands, it will depend on whether I actually want to date. Like, in general.

If I’m just coming off a dating streak, I probably don’t. I want a break to spend my Sundays doing things I want to spend my Sundays doing. It’s depressing to realize that it’s been a month since you’ve been out on your bike, and you have nothing to show for it except four more guys you won’t be seeing again.

If it’s been a while, I probably do. At this point I may be doing Tai Chi in the park Sunday morning, and instead of being Zen I’m wondering why my well of men has dried up. Is this it? Have I dated them all?

With that in mind, I consider the following:

Is one of them only temporarily available? Sometimes, you’ve okay’d someone ages ago, but he’s always busy when you’re free, and you’re busy when he’s free. If a guy has limited availability and I want to date, then I will give him precedence. If not, then not.

Is one of them local?  If a guy is far away, I know he’s going to arrive for our first date searching for a reason to break up. If I don’t want to date, I will pick him first. Otherwise, I’ll go with someone closer.

If no decision has been made at this point, then who cares? Hang both profiles on the wall and throw darts. If your aim  is anything like mine, you’ll wind up hitting the Chofetz Chaim portrait. And you can’t turn down a date with the Butcher of Radin, can you?

SYAS and Me

“You have a suggested match from YourFriend on SawYouAtSinai!” exclaims the flagged email at the top of my inbox. I’ve been staring at it a for a week now. So I unflag it, but refrain from deleting. I don’t know why. I have no intention of clicking through.

About five years ago, an identical email did get me to click through. I set up a profile just to find out who the guy was. I was disappointed, after all that effort,  to find out that I couldn’t see the guy’s name without plunking down cash. So i  logged off, but let my profile hang around a while. And that only got me more emails about matches being sent to me. Finally, I caved.

I signed up.

That credit card charge for 9 months of service could be described as the biggest instantaneous waste of money of my life, excepting the time I got a speeding ticket. My membership expired after 9 months without my having a single date to show for it. Somehow, I managed to refrain from renewing.

But my profile was still out there, floating around in Sinai-space. And not realizing that I wasn’t a Gold member, shadchanim would occasionally throw a match at me. But, as I explained to one shadchan, it never seemed worth $18 for just a chance at a date.

Things finally came to a head earlier this year when a SYAS shadchan  actually called me to ask what was up with my profile. “I see you’ve let most suggestions expire,” she said.

“I can’t exactly accept or reject,” I pointed out. “I’m merely a non-metallic member, restricted to hands-tied gazing at nameless profiles.”

“Oh,” she said. “Well would you like to sign up?”

“No, not really,” I said. “I can get no dates myself, without paying for the privilege. I can even get dates myself, often enough to keep me happy.”

“Well you’re lucky then,” she said briskly. “I recommend that you delete your profile.”

So I did.

But SYAS works on the candyshop principle. They keep dangling things in front of you until you give in and go inside. And the crazy part is, all the teasing and advertising and carrot-waving is done not by SYAS itself, but by well-meaning volunteers. All those friends and unpaid shadchanim who say “I saw this guy I think would be great for you on SYAS.”

You hear it a half-dozen times and it starts to get to you. Especially during dry periods when you start to doubt that you can find someone on your own, while everyone seems to know someone for you on SYAS, and maybe you’re going to die alone with cats because you’re too much a parsimonious curmudgeon to just sign up for what you know is an awful experience but which is also some kind of Singles Tax every woman must pay until she’s neatly stashed away in some man’s care.

Let’s be straight about this: The site isn’t exactly philanthropic. The singles can’t set you up with their discards, and the shadchanim aren’t allowed to bypass the website. Really, there’s no option but for you to bite the bullet and plunk down the cash.

But then my inner cat-lady says “No! I will not cave! I will not spend good, hard-earned money on a fruitless service with a debatable ROI!” And thus inspired, I straighten my back and stand strong against temptation. I can do this.

In fact, just typing that paragraph so inspired me that I think I’m going to delete that email. Thank you, YourFriend, for thinking of me, but I will stand strong.

Besides, I’d have to set up my profile again.

Hanging Out on the Boardwalk is Good For Shidduchim

Thanks, Relarela (or should I call you NEF #17 now?) for this post on why it’s important to Be Seen: because you never know who will make your shidduch.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard that phrase and rolled my eyes at it. But apparently it’s true. Because you won’t believe who set up Chava and Mordy

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.

Where Have All the Posts Gone?

I have always envied those really great writers who seem capable of banging out n0vels about things they know nothing about. Floridians who write about surviving the Klondike gold rush, or Californians writing about being a woman in modern Pakistan, or the NJ housewife writing murder mysteries placed in Communist China.

How do they do that? I wonder. How can they capture the experience so well when they’ve never experienced it? Of course, I’ve never experienced it either, so I don’t really know. But it seems very realistic.

Myself, I’ve always been stuck writing about things I know, like learning to drive with your parents in the backseat, or solving Laplace transforms. (That last one went over like week-old sushi in creative writing class.) Being a single dater in the Orthodox Jewish universe was one of those things.

Was.

Because I’m not any more.

No, please. Don’t engage me. I stopped being a player in the dating scene when I moved out of town.

There are about four single males in this city, and we managed to size each other up in a couple of months. There were some good efforts at setting me up with a dentist in St. Louis and a firefighter in Boston, which fizzled after less-than-fascinating phone conversations in which the gentlemen made it clear that if I wanted a date, I’d have to go to them. (Did I just call them gentlemen? Misnomer. I’m a whole lot more in-town than St. Louis. Seriously–the nerve!)

Those were the enterprising shadchanim. The ones who said, “He wants to live OOT, she wants to live OOT, let’s bring them together!”

Some didn’t even try. Paraphrased quotes from emails:

Shadchan: “I received your resume [Call it a profile! – editor’s note] and I deal with the type of boy you’re looking for. I heard you’re moving back to New York soon, is that true?”

Me: “Maybe in a year or so. But I visit regularly.”

Shadchan: “Well, email me when you do move back, and I’ll see if any are still available.”

AnotherShadchan: “I received your resume [It’s not a resume! – editor’s note] earlier this week and noticed that you live in OOT. When will you be moving here?”

Me: [to self] “When? When? Does anyone else see an objectionable assumption there?” [in email] “Maybe in a year, but I visit regularly.”

AnotherShadchan: “Because, you know, it’s so hard to get boys to travel even to Philadelphia, let alone to Baltimore. It’s just a hopeless cause.”

Me: “Thanks, I guess.”

YetaThirdShadchan: “I have your shidduch resume [It’s not a farshtinkener resume! It’s a profile! – editor’s note], and I have an idea of a great guy for you. Are you willing to relocate?”

Me: [dismayed] “For the first date?”

So, since I’ve moved to this lovely town, I’ve dated (as in, met in person) a grand total of two people. This is not a sufficient quantity to sustain a dating blog. Hence, a drop-off in quantity of posts.

Want more BadforShidduchim? Send dates. Venturesome fellows, not afraid to feel the dirt beneath their tires or ask directions from someone drinking beer on a couch on their front porch watching the cows come home.

Seriously, guys. You need to get out more.

Or you could just make yourself available when I’m in the tri-state area. Is this asking too much?

Friday Repost: Operation Marry Off Bad4

I can finally remember this weekend without any signs of PTSD. It was the weekend my parents introduced me to nearly a dozen women in the hopes that one might marry me off. I don’t know where they get their hopes from, but I guess hope is not a bad thing. If it keeps them busy and happy, I’ll put up with it. But I’d rather factor polynomials in my head.