Why Single People Should Learn Sign Language

Ah, weddings. Don’t we all love weddings? I love friends’ weddings, anyway. Relatives weddings are another story. Not that I’m not happy for the couple and all that, but there’s always that double check on your appearance to make sure you’re not going to embarrass the nuclear family in the presence of the extended family. “Oh no you’re not wearing that little black suit. Wear the other little black suit.”

As a single person, it gets worse. Because not only do you have to worry about offending the family eyes, but there are also those other people who you must see, and while you’re at it, must impress. In other words:“Before you walk out the door let me see if you’re presentable because I hear there’s a shadchan at table 29, and table 32 is going to have the mother of someone who was mentioned as a potential match, and why aren’t you wearing a necklace?”

Because I never remember a blasted necklace. Last time I wore a necklace to a wedding, a friend fainted from the shock and they had to bring her around with water. Her makeup smeared, and I decided I wasn’t going to do that again—too much fallout. But seriously, I’m not trying to antagonize anyone. I forgot.

Anyway, I shrugged off the “shadchan at table 29 business” this wedding, because the shadchanim who were supposed to be at Blushing Bride’s vort never materialized. I went confidently and benecklaced.

I guess I underestimated how much my parents had cranked up the Marry Off Bad4 project. Or else it was the fact that my aunt, finally disposed of her own young old maid, decided to do something on behalf of my mother’s. So she actually briefed the shadchan on table 29 and told the mother on 32 to look out for me.

Luckily, we arrived just in time for the chupah, so the only embarrassment I had to suffer was failing to recognize a great aunt I’d only met twice in my life 3 years ago. Question: when someone asks “Do you know who I am?” and you suspect you do but aren’t sure, is it better to hazard a guess and risk being wrong, or should you just say “no clue”?

Anyway, after the chupah I chatted up all my cousins for a polite amount of time, and then we went off to find the sinks. Naturally, it was on my way back in after washing that my mother caught my eye and started beckoning. I’m sure I made an incredible impression on the Woman in Black by just shaking my head and continuing to my table. But I came back a couple of minutes later, being a good and obedient daughter. They were positioned directly behind the band, which was playing at decibels to match the ritzyness of the wedding, which was considerable.


My mother didn’t even notice that I was trying to communicate with her. But being used to raising her voice to command the attention of rioting children, she was better able to convey to me, “THIS IS MRS. MADEASHIDDUCH! SHE MADE SOMEONE OR ANOTHER’S SHIDDUCH! I WANT YOU TO MEET HER!”

I smile politely at Mrs. Madeashidduch, being otherwise struck dumb. Not because I was awed by the fact that she’d successfully matched two people up, or even that I wasn’t sure what to say next, but simply because when you know a person is only going to catch every third word that you say, you have to choose your words carefully. In the end, I said nothing, letting my mother shriek about how astoundingly wantable I was. (Which is why, naturally, she’s so eager to get rid of me.)

I finally escaped back to my table, but my mother finds me there; she hasn’t forgotten the shadchan at table 29. I sigh and follow her to table 29.

“SO WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?” asks the table 29 shadchan.

“SOMEPLACE QUIET ENOUGH TO TALK!” I respond, lungs beginning to ache. She seems to agree, though, and we move off to the corner farthest from the band where we can talk at only 2/3 capacity.

So what are you looking for?” she asks again.

These bands have got to get quieter. I’m willing to bet that most Orthodox Jews lose more hearing between the ages of 18 and 25 and 45 and 55 then at any other point in their lives, just from attending weddings. I was rather disturbed to find that I couldn’t hear myself bentch unless I shouted. I kept waiting, as I bellowed through Nodeh Lichah, for the music to stop abruptly and me to be left shouting into the silence like in that practical joke 5th graders adore so much. I was also horrified by the ringing audible in my ears every time I stepped more than fifty feet away from the dance floor. But most awful is the way the music disrupts the brisk matchmaking business going on along the sidelines, as Women in Black discuss and talk to Girls in Black. Some consideration, please! We’re trying to get married—do you mind?

All this would be less of a problem if singles and shadchanim all knew Sign Language. We could all go deaf without knowing it, and still be able to ask and answer, “So, what are you looking for?”

If anyone knows how to sign “What are you looking for?” please let me know. And if there are signs for “earner, learner, learner-earner, earner-learner,” please let me know too. I’d like to collaborate on a YouTube video for the edification of the frum populace. With all the shidduch initiatives going on, I think this is one worth pursuing. Girls are there, shadchanim are there, why not bring them together in productive communication, instead of this screaming inefficiency? Post below if you would like to participate.