Explanation Requested

Can someone please explain to me why people want to know in which shul my parents daven when doing shidduch background checks on me?

This question is inconvenient to answer because, living in Brooklyn, they are thoroughly surrounded by shuls, which pop up not just in large edifices with stained-glass windows, but also in random basements and converted houses on residential streets. Aboding as they are in this Garden of Shuls, they take full advantage of the smorgasbord. My vague understanding is that my father rotates between three preferred locations, although I don’t know if this is divided by “shacharis, mincha, ma’ariv,” or “Shabbos/weekday,” or is on some kind of weekly rotation.  The womenfolk in the family stick with only one (it being equipped with a balcony).

I honestly couldn’t name all relevant synagogues. Nobody calls them by their names anyway; rather, by the name of their rabbis. Most of whom slip my mind at the moment. And who aren’t even known in the first place by the vast majority of Jews in Brooklyn, let alone OOT.

Truly, it doesn’t concern me from where my father comes home from shul, so long as he does arrive. And most weeks, it doesn’t concern me at all. Because I’m not there. And haven’t been. For a while.

So what does it have to do with me?

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.”

Repost: Why the Pre-Date Interview Should Be Instituted

While, in theory, I understand that people do rigorous research to defray the expenses of dating, sometimes it just gets ridiculous. Calling a dozen neighbors and formers teachers to ask questions they are not qualified to answer is just an effort in self-inflicting headaches. Also, it’s a pain in the neck for my friends, people who used to like me before they had to start answering detailed questions about my psyche.

Which is why I once petulantly suggested that mothers with tough questions ask me, instead of pestering my poor references. I still think that’s a good idea. If you’re going to be a difficult mother (or the mother of a difficult son, as was this case), just go straight to the source, and spare the collateral.

Of course, some questions are difficult to answer for more innate reasons…

20,000 Dollars Under the Sea

More Monday-morning controversy for y’all. Dig in.

“…and how they’re going to pay their rent with her in college and him in kollel I don’t know. And pay off those loans. I love my son-in-law to pieces, but next time we’re going to ask about student debt in the research stage.”

I overheard this line many many years ago at a friend’s sheva brochos. It brought to my attention a potential Big Issue. You know, the kind of thing you red flag in a Potential from the start, along with his/her attending 4+ high schools  or collecting shoulder-mounted SAM launchers as a hobby.

Yeah, I’m talking about those student loans.

Maybe this is not the place to go into Bad4’s Theory on Borrowing, but I’ll sketch it out in brief. There are two types of investments. There’s the gamble investment, like the stock market. You only put in money that you don’t really need. Then there’s insurable investments, like a house or car, that have some intrisic value (they keep you warm and dry). You can borrow against their value, which can also be insured.

College, imho, falls into the gamble investment category. There’s no guarantee that you’re going to get a job simply because you’ve got that piece of paper with the synthetic parchment grain. (Ask everyone who has gone on to graduate school [more debt] because they couldn’t find a job.) The knowledge is worthless without many other qualities that make you hireable. And it has no intrinsic value; try burning it for warmth or holding it between you and the rain. Try buying insurance for it. For what?

(I make a small exception for doctors, surgeons, and anasthesiologists, for whom unemployment exists only as the sort of fairy tale old nurses tell young interns to scare them.)

Yet, many people go fathoms deep in debt for a college degree. Debt that could take them years and years and year to pay off, especially if they have a home and family to support. (And car payments and a mortgage.)

Which brings me ’round to the question: should student debt be up there in the FBI question list? One of those things you ought to know before you go (out)? Is it a Fourth Date Question – for when  the skeletons start coming out of the closet?

Me: “Well I’ve got a blog.”

Him: “I’ve got six digits of students debt.”

Me: “Take me home now.”

Him: “Hey, I was okay with your blog!”

I thought it was just me who has a pathological fear of debt. Certainly everyone seems to think I’m completely nuts for avoiding it like chopped liver. Rationalizations I’ve gotten range from “Well what can you do?” to “It’s the cheapest loan you’re ever going to get! Enjoy it!” So I kept my distates for things with APRs under wraps, along with all my other weirdnesses, like my preference for warm winter jackets and life without a cell phone.

Then I saw this NYTimes article, linked through Orthonomics. Discovery: there are others like me! Someone even broke up over it! I’m out of the closet, folks.

Hi, my name is Bad4, and I have a pathological fear of irrational debt.

When I hear that someone has racked up $50k+ in student loans, I automatically place their IQ a standard deviation left of the mean. Perhaps it’s unfair, but I’d probably need to rack up $50,000 in psychologist bills to eradicate the creepy-crawly, raised-hairs-on-back-of-neck feeling it gives me, and that’s definitely not an investment worth making.

So, is this a serious shidduch issue, or should couples just bite the bullet and figure it out post-chupah?

But You Never Even Met Me!

Does anyone else find it mildly insulting to hear that someone is looking into you… and then never hear from them about a date?

I always wonder about those. Particularly about who was the last person to speak to them.

Not that I think someone is turning them off me with negative information. It’s quite possible they simply realized that we weren’t compatible. But still…