Hide Your Shidduch Profiles in Shame

What is the purpose of a shidduch profile?

I would say to

1 – Convey the most germane information about its subject for matchmaking purposes and

2 – Intrigue potential matches enough that they want to date the subject.

Chas McFeely is a 40-year-old single guy who has reinvented the shidduch system in an effort to marry himself off.  To that end, he’s created an online profile and recruited his entire network of family and friends in trying to set him up. He’s even offering shadchanus!

The impressive thing about McFeely’s shidduch profile is that, unlike most of the utilitarian word documents that float around the shidduch system, his actually does that. With ten photos, eight of them lightly captioned, he conveys a pretty well-rounded image of his personality, lifestyle, sense of humor, and general appearance. Moreover, it leaves you wondering, “Do I know any music-loving, Scrabble-playing women on the west coast?”  Unlike most of the profiles I read, which leave me wondering, “If he sounds the same as the last six guys I’ve gone out with, is that good or bad?”

I think I’m going to become a proponent of interesting shidduch profiles. Hey, a cartoon profile got Stupid Inventor matched up.

I reformatted my own profile a few months ago and have been noting responses with a sociologist’s eye. Out of the dozen or so people I know it’s been sent to
– Three looked askance.

Of those three,

– One refused to use it.

– Two said, “Well I guess it weeds them out early on.”

In addition,

– Nine spontaneously and without prompting sent their compliments and said it gave them a better idea of who I am.

Of these nine,

– Four said it made them more certain than before that I’d hit it off with their nephew/brother/cousin/son/friend.

– Another four didn’t have anyone specific in mind (they had just vaguely offered to set me up), but actually called me back to discuss “what I’m looking for.”

So, thus far, I’d say jazzing up a profile is mostly a good idea.

Moreover, if a particular shadchan thinks it’ll freak out the Suggestion, (s)he won’t pass it on. A friend of mine, when asked to attach a photograph of herself to her profile, sent the best and most recent photo she had. It was at the zoo, and she had a giant python around her neck. It was only after their engagement that she and her fiancée found out that his mother had suppressed the photo.

So, do you need to spend a thousand dollars filling a website with professional photos of yourself wearing everything from a suit to tennis whites?  Probably not. But the McFeely comparison test is, when people finish reading your dossier, do they care about you at all?

Hat Tip to Cubic Zirconium for sending me the link.

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Glossary

A glossary of terms occasionally used on this blog, for the new or rusty, or those who simply don’t have minds that operate exactly like mine:

1DD – The One Date Dump. This differs from “One n’ Done” in that OnD is a type of very brief dating sequence, whereas 1DD is a maneuver pulled by one of the parties in a OnD.

Also4 – older brother, still dating.

Bad4 Shidduchim – that’s me. Bad4 is the first name, Shidduchim is the last name. Not to be confused with BadforShidduchim, the blog.

Best4 – this is my biggest brother. He’s Best4 because he was snapped up by the first woman who went out with him, and also because he decided he wanted to be called that. Most notable accomplishment: producing the finest kinfauna any aunt could want.

BNB – bayis ne’eman biyisroel

Done4 – this older sister is finally done for in the shidduch arena. Having a husband will do that to you.

FDO – First Date Outfit. This is a standard set of clothing carefully chosen as nicest or most versatile. It is worn on every single first date with very few exception. This makes first dates easier and less worrisome.

Good4 – younger sister, just back from seminary and starting to date.

IT – in town. This covers the greater New York City area, as well as certain areas nearby in the tri-state area that are indistinguishable from the New York orthodox community. It doesn’t matter if you’re from a different city and in a different city – you’re still out of town because you’re out of New York.

Kinfauna – One inclusive word for nieces and nephews. There has been contention that someone’s already suggested “niflings,” but I’ll wait til Noah Webster weighs in before I give up.

LBS – Little Black Sneakers. These versatile items of footwear are used by orthodox women who want to wear something comfortable but that will also not clash too much with their somewhat dressier (non-denim) skirt and black socks.

MF – An NMF who’s been married for 12 months or has had her first child.

Minor-league BT – someone who was always religious but has shifted to the right of his/her family and upbringing.

MMRC – The Miserably Married Revenge Club. You know who the members are unless you’re a member.

Mr. and Mrs. Shidduchim – those are the parental units for this blog. Poor things.

NEF – Newly Engaged Friend. ‘Nuff said. Okay, maybe not. NEFs are open targets for all types of teasing and good-natured abuse, the theory being that they’re too happy and self-absorbed to notice.

NMF – Newly Married Friend. This title lasts until shana rishona is over. These are the people you can’t visit, can’t call, can’t  get together with for the life of you because they’re so busy  being newly married and anxious about their spouse.

OOT – out of town. You know where that is. It’s anyplace that’s not here.

OnD – One n’ Done. You go out once. ‘Nuff said.

POS – pathetic older single. An ambiguous term without defined usage. Possibly community dependent.

S7D – Standard Seven Date Sequence. This is reference to the ultra-orthodox, non-chassidish practice of going on approximately 7 or so dates before engagement. Sometimes more, sometimes less. This isn’t a hard and fast rule. Just a convenient way of generalizing.

Sconcer – to look over someone’s shoulder while you’re speaking to them, so you can scan the room for more interesting people to talk to.

Smearcat – a cat that’s been… well, roadkilled.

Women in Black – You know how you have to be “seen”? And how you have to be careful how you act and dress because of who might “see” you? Who are you anxious about? The Women in Black. These women, who wear black suits to weddings, have their eagle eyes on you from the second you come back from Israel until you walk down the aisle. After that they’re keeping an eye on your stomach. (Applies to females only, though I’ve noticed the male waistline tends to grow after marriage as well.)

It’s Officially Unofficial!

Another friend has officially joined the dark side, and Bad4 is officially confused about the official part of it.

I’ve never understood this “not officially engaged until tomorrow night” business. Either you’re engaged or you’re not. If he proposed and you accepted, then you’re engaged. If he didn’t propose and you didn’t accept, then you’re not. And if he didn’t propose but you both know he’s going to propose and that you’re going to accept, that makes you, apparently, unofficially engaged, and also, in my opinion, quite weird. Why not get it over with already?

How do you end up in that sort of situation anyway? He calls up and says, “I’m going to propose tomorrow at 4 pm,” and if she doesn’t say, “I’m going to refuse you tomorrow at 4 pm” then they go ahead and tell everyone that they’re “getting engaged”? But you can’t say mazal tov yet, because they’re not engaged. So what’s the point? I guess so you can be parked outside their house when you get the call on your cell phone, “I’m engaged!” so you can run in to their l’chaim shrieking, “Ohmigoshohmogosh! You’re engaged?!!? Mazal tov! When did it happen? I had no idea!”

I used to not understand this “unofficial” business at all, but I think I have a handle on it now. I’ve been getting a lot of this “when you get engaged, you better tell me” business. Ironically, the more you tell people that you’re not getting engaged, the more firmly they believe that you’re a hop skip jump from a diamond ring, and the more urgently they press upon you the importance of letting them know ASAP – preferably before it happens. In fact, while trying to notify people that Friend #7 is now “officially” engaged, I had at least two conversations that went roughly like this:

Me: Guess who’s got herself engaged?

Her: You?

Me: No! Would I go and do something like that? Friend #7 is engaged to Guy #7 from Location #7! How cool is that?

So when I run down the list of people who absolutely must know the minute I get engaged, it makes me want to crawl into bed and not go out. First there’s your parents, because heaven knows they’ve been waiting long enough for the opportunity to hang up the phone, slap each other five, and go, “Ye-ah! Finally she’s someone else’s problem!” Then there’s your grandparents because you can’t have them find out second hand – that’s just rude. And any siblings who are married need to be informed as well.

Then either you or your parents need to call the aunts and uncles who would be insulted to find out from anyone else, even though you know they’re going to wrinkled their foreheads and wonder, “Someone proposed to her? Well, every pot has a lid. Can’t wait to meet this guy.” But before them come your close friends who you really want to tell because you’ve been dying to tell them about this super-awesome guy you’ve been dating for weeks, but couldn’t. And then there are the good friends who absolutely cannot find out from OnlySimchas first, or you can kiss your bridal shower goodbye. And a handful of friends you need to call because they’d want to hear it from you, for some reason. In summary, getting engaged sounds like a headache of obligations.

This “unofficial” engagement takes care of all that. The first tiers of people to find out are of course the parents and grandparents. They surreptitiously spread the information to immediate relatives so they can be strategically nearby when it becomes “official.” Meanwhile, since no secret stays a secret once more than one person knows it, it somehow gets leaked to a single loudmouth friend. Because it’s a leak, nobody feels insulted that they weren’t told directly, because of course no friends are being told directly, because it isn’t official. And of course they only spread it among the upper tier of friends, who are all primed to be available the minute you call them. But you don’t need to call them. Because along with the information that you’re “unofficially engaged” comes the release time for the official engagement. As soon as the clock strikes, your name is on OnlySimchas and friends are calling each other, and everyone understands that they’re not hearing second-hand because nobody has yet heard first hand. So when you finally get around to calling, nobody minds that you’re the fifth person to tell them that you’re engaged. How efficient is that?

It works very well, but it’s still silly. If and when I get proposed to, I’m going to give my answer and go home and go to bed. My parents will sleep better if I don’t tell them until the next morning, and I can do all my phone-calling over a leisure breakfast. Nobody will be insulted because everyone will be insulted. It’ll work great! I think.

But Nooo Doctors

When I was little, one of my mother’s favorite picture books was But No Elephants. It was not my favorite. Too much of it stretched my childish credulity about how people act.A salesman with a car full of animals sells a granny-type, Tildy, a beaver as a pet. The beaver is useful; she appreciates him. The guy keeps coming back selling her more useful pets, like a woodpecker, etc. And each time she grudgingly agrees to take the pet with the stipulation, “But no elephants.”

That’s where I began not understanding. Yes, elephants take up more space and eat more, but they’re also stronger and have those wonderful trunks. Every animal has its pros and cons; why wouldn’t she even consider the elephant?

When it comes to shidduchim, there are some things that people just won’t accept, because all they can think of are the cons. Which is why the average Mr./Miss Premed has serious issues getting a date. Everyone assumes that Doctor Mommy is somehow an oxymoron, or that it’s impossible for a frum person to make it through medical school spiritually healthy.

I’ve got a neighbor who’s a pediatrician. He works from 8 am to 10 am and from 4 pm to 6 pm, because that’s when most kids discover that they’re sick. The rest of the day he learns. There’s a female pediatrician who zips around all the male-run private practices doing annual checkups for the squeamish teenage girls. How’s that for flexible hours? And hospitals do run on shifts. Once you get over the killer interning/residency years, it’s easy street in terms of choosing hours. (OK, sort of.) My point being: there are many types of doctors out there, and a physician has some leeway in choosing when he or she works.

Just for reference, your average physical therapist also works 9-5. They can only go into that much touted “private practice” business when they’ve built up a clientele, and even then, they’re not really choosing their own hours; their clients choose for them. And for most clients, weekend and post-5pm on weekdays is when it’s convenient.

So how do premed students go about getting married? Well one Miss PreMed tells people she’s “going into the medical field.” People automatically assume “physical therapy,” because that’s so much more appropriate than doctor. Heck, dissecting a dead and defenseless guy or taking off one’s shirt in class to look at back muscles is all in a day’s work for an aidel maidel—and that’s just Gross Anatomy class.

Of course her real goal comes out eventually over the diet coke. And that’s when things get interesting. One guy, upon hearing that his date intended to go—pardon my language—to medical school [rinse out mouth with soap], got wide-eyed and said,

“Um, I just remembered, this isn’t such a good night for a date. Let’s go.”

Gotta give him credit. This guy’s got finesse.

“Why a doctor? Why not a nurse?” Some feel the need to ask. “That’s also helping people.”

Aw c’mon, folks. Some people are meant to be in charge. They’re too smart to spend their life changing bedpans.

“I asked my rav and he said it’s OK for me,” Miss Premed complained. Being exceedingly bright and capable, she feels confident that she’ll be able to balance family and schoolwork, but if not, she knows her priorities, and it’s not the degree. Why doesn’t anyone give her a chance?

Oh yes, and it’s essentially the same thing with lawyers.

How Long Do You Take?

 

Way back there was a Dilbert cartoon where Alice asks Dilbert what he’s wearing to the office party. Sipping his coffee, Dilbert replies, “Whatever comes up in the rotation, I guess.” The next frame shows him beaten up and telling Wally, “She shrieked something about spending a week in fifty stores to find the perfect outfit…”

Some people take a full two hours to prepare for their dates. Or so they tell me. It starts with a shower and then blow drying and then ironing (hair) and then clothing and makeup and pantyhose that keeps ripping and the list seems to go on forever. By the time they walk out the front door they must be exhausted, not to mention fried in the brain.

On the other end of the spectrum is little Miss Dater (aka Mickey Mouse online) who sneaks in the back door while her parents distract her date in the front hall, slips into something nicer than her work clothes, and appears two minutes later, bright-eyed and bushy tailed and ready to sip diet coke. Or diet water. Whatever.

Now, I think I’ve found a happy medium with a half-hour prep time, but still. When around two hours after the date ended the shadchan calls and says, “He gave the thumbs up, how about tomorrow night?” my first thought is, “Like I don’t have anything else to do with my life?” For the two-hour prep crowd, that must go quadruple. Do guys just change their shirt and put on a tie?

“I just put on whatever I wore on Shobbos,” my brother tells me. “It’s only a first date. An hour and a half and 2-to-1 you never see her again.”

Did you hear that, two-hour-prep girls? Don’t beat up your poor date. Just get smart. Put on whatever you wore on Shobbos.

Hilchos Dating – Dibur

 

Ah… the first date. The halacha dictates that this date takes place in a hotel lounge over a diet coke or bottle of water. Talk should be light but discerning.

Um… light? As in what exactly? Anything conceivably “light”—as well as many things that are quite “heavy”—you tend to know already. Sometimes to the point of idiocy.

A friend of mine didn’t want to date until her older sister was engaged, so when someone redt her a fellow she insisted on knowing everything down to the color of his socks (black) before agreeing to go out. He, for his part, was jaded from being redt the wrong sort of females, so he insisted on knowing her entire biography, including the part that hadn’t happened yet, before agreeing to go out. Their first date must have been like an old reunion. As the parents shut the door behind them, he probably said something like, “I’m glad to hear you did well on that history report.”

“Yes, especially since I didn’t have much time to work on it…”

“Well you were busy with more important things.”

“True. But still, I like to do a good job on my work.”

“I know.”

“I hear the flu is going around Lakewood—I hope that’s not what your chavrusa caught.”

“Oh no, no way. It’s just strep—he found out this morning.”

“That’s great! So he’ll be back to learning with you tomorrow! How are you finding Yevamos?”

Etc. etc. Since they did all the dating before the dating, they were ready to get married after two dates (I kid you not), but hung out for six for the sake of propriety. (After all, what would people say? Not like it matters once you’re engaged.)

Then there are some really gauche ways to handle the first date. Here’s what one shlimeil did to a friend. He handed her a diet coke, cleared his throat, and said, “Why don’t we take turns telling what we know about each other and then we can fill in the blanks?” That did not go over well. Especially since her parents had neglected to inform her that she was going on a date until one hour before it was supposed to happen, and she wasn’t even sure what his name was.

Rov poskim agree, however, that you should either ignore those topics or rehash them while pretending you don’t know anything about them. If he provides information that contradicts what you’ve heard, things can get exceedingly interesting. Sometimes it doesn’t even have to contradict. A friend went out with a guy who she was told was accepted to Columbia. He nonchalantly admitted that he’d applied to the engineering program, which has a ridiculously high entrance rate, just to keep his parents happy, but had no intention of attending. (“Engineering? Me? Are you kidding?”)

Me, I try not to get too much information beforehand, which suits my parents, who don’t enjoy collecting it. I’d rather find out the truth from the horse’s mouth than a lot of fantasy from his neighbors who want to marry him off because “he’s such a nice boy.”

There’s a whole ‘nother sefer-worth of “halacha” about how long the date is supposed to be (one date asked me if it was OK to return me home 15 minutes before the minimum) and how long to keep them hanging before approving a second date, and on and on ad nauseum.

At this point, I just declare that hidebound regulations are “not our minhag” and get on with whatever feels right. Who has time for this nonsense?

Miss Special, Meet Mr. Best

My brother was complaining about the huge amount of special girls out there. He says he gets a small amount of information about each proposed match, and too much space is wasted on how special she is. “They’re all special! There are too many special girls and too many best bochurim.”

At first, I wasn’t sure why he cared about the best bochur business. Then I realized. Being a best bochur himself, he resents the flooding of the market and the dilution of the name.

Not that being a “best bochur” should be such a big deal. One Shobbos in Israel I ate with an entire yeshiva. Yep, all four students. It can’t be too hard to be the best bochur in that place. In fact, they can even rotate it, depending on who’s dating that week. “Best” is a very relative term. Who cares?

And what’s with this ‘special’ business? It’s gotten to the point where you’re most conspicuous if you’re not special. And I’m afraid I’m not. If anyone has ever called me “special” they need their head checked. I assume that “special” is a way of saying “aidel” without saying it. Or else it’s a way of saying “there’s more to her than meets the eye.”Which is another way of saying, “she looks incredibly boring and ordinary, but since you won’t go out with an ordinary and boring person, let me assure you that she’s really got something more to her. Just don’t ask me what.”

“Special” sounds slightly vaguer than “sparkling.” Someone once tried to set me up with a fellow who, in his long list of must-haves in a mate, included “a sparkling personality.” My personality doesn’t sparkle, glitter, twinkle, or coruscate. It just plods on steadily, day after day, except when it decides to sleep late and then you don’t want to meet me. I can count on exactly one finger the number of definite sparklers I know. She was engaged a few months out of high school, broke the engagement, and was engaged again a few months later. Which should let you know how in-demand those sparkling personalities are. Shucks for the rest of us.

(By Mr. I-Want-a-Sparkler’s list, he seemed to require a butterfly who would flutter solicitously around his flame and “help him achieve his full potential.” Aside from having a husband who has achieved his full potential, I couldn’t see what was in it for me, so I said no thank you. He is now happily married and I am still happily single. Life works out very well if you give it a chance.)

Back to my point, if I had one: does anyone know what “special” actually means? And does “best bochur” have any meaning at all?