“Is she spiritual?”
The MF who fielded this one brought it up with me one Shabbos afternoon. “Are you spiritual?”
“No,” I replied immediately. “Spiritual” means colorful scarves, Carlebach minyanim, and Chabakuk reading lists. It means having an “amazing, inspiring experience” whenever there’s a critical mass of people singing. It means Tzefat, Bat Ayin, and Meron.
“Oh,” said the MF, who had found the question puzzling. “I said you learn regularly and stuff, but that wasn’t what they meant.” No indeed.
Not an absurd question, considering. Apparently the caller was asking on behalf of a happy chossid. Of course it would have been simpler to just ask if I’m the happy chossid type, but I’m not going to nit-pick.
What the confused MF had answered was the “What does she do for spirituality” question. Similar words, but a world of difference in meaning. I don’t really like this one. Yes, granted, there are people who go to shiurim with their friends a couple of times a week. But not with their MFs. (Try getting an MF out of her house after 7pm. Good luck.) And there are also plenty of people who go to shiurim without their friends. Or who get their shiur in their inboxes. Or who do it over the phone or via podcast. Or any number of other acceptable options that MFs (or SFs) wouldn’t know about. (Then there are people who don’t bother with this stuff and don’t seem to need it either. Is “she has an impeccable moral compass” a good answer to that question?)
I’ve also never understood why people ask my friends about my siblings. “Can you send me a roster of your siblings, where they live, and what they do?” one Friend asked. “People always ask and I never know what to answer.” Honestly, folks. This is why I gave you the aunt’s phone number and the neighbor’s number. My friends are my friends. They don’t know what seminaries my sisters went to. If they did, I’d be a little creeped out. Maybe even jealous.
When MF #5 got married to an Ivy League-educated gentleman who planned to learn in kollel, I overheard her mother complaining.
“When we did our research we didn’t know to ask about student loans! She’s just starting out, and already she’s $20,000 in debt!”
“It could be worse,” her conversant comforted her. “I know a dentist who married a doctor. $300,000, and they think they got off easy.”
“Well at least they have good jobs. My future son-in-law is learning, and long-term he wants to teach. They’ll be living in a basement the rest of their lives.”
That was the first time I thought about debt as a factor in marriage. I am debt-averse to an extreme. Not everyone sees things my way, though.
“Take out student loans,” Done4 urged me when I was in college. “They’re the cheapest loans you’ll ever get in your life.”
“You’re still paying interest and committing future earnings,” I pointed out. “Earnings you can’t guarantee that you’ll have.”
The idea that my careful financial life might be thrown over by someone who thought education was a stage in life to pass through, like puberty, with no bearing on his future, was scary. And it was unbelievable how many guys I dated said they were only in college because their mother said so, and they didn’t want to do whatever they were getting a degree in, and kollel sounded nice, actually, yeah.
Sure it does. So does being back in the womb. But do you belong there?
So I wasn’t rolling my eyes when credit scores showed up as something people want to know before you go (out together). It’s a great way to get an idea of your partner’s fiscal responsibility. Or at least open the discussion about it.
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.
Is it not the strangest question ever? “Would you go out with someone who wears a knitted kippa?” “Would you go out with a girl who wears denim skirts?” “Would you go out with a guy who doesn’t have a college degree?” “Would you go out with a girl studying to be a doctor?”
A gentleman was asked one of these types of questions. His reply? “That’s kind of like asking me if I’d eat baking powder. If there are other ingredients with it, then yes, I do.”
How’s that for clever? Here’s one of my favorite ways to eat baking powder. What’s yours?
Combine 5 teaspoons of it with the following ingredients:
2.5 c whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons honey
2 C milk
4 tablespoons oil
Mix wet and dry separately. Stir to moisten. Drip tablespoonfulls into a frying pan greased with hot oil. Fry.
“Does chinuch count as having a job?”
Does the question not answer itself?