Pity Me

“I don’t like eating out at families for Shabbos,” my Flatmate said. “I hate being the nebach case at the table.”

“You think that’s why people invite us?” I asked. “Really?”

“Well why else do you think they do?”

“For the pleasure of our company?” I replied, suddenly doubtful. Maybe my company isn’t all that scintillating. Maybe the only reason people invite me over  is because otherwise they imagine me alone in a dark room with cracked walls, lit  by a single, dangling, lightbulb, sitting at a wobbly table eating dry bread salted by my own tears.

Then I laughed. That was ridiculous. Who could imagine I had such a pathetic existence? No, they definitely invited me over for a much-needed break from discussing community politics and preschool options. They probably appreciate having someone new around to provide a more youthful perspective and broad-ranging conversation…

Friday night, as we proffered our parting thank yous to our hosts, the hostess leaned in and urged us to invite ourselves over any time. “You know Elisheva, who lives a few doors down from you? She has a hard time finding meals for Shabbos. She told me that sometimes she eats all alone. I feel so bad! But sometimes the week just gets away and I forget to invite people. So don’t feel uncomfortable about calling, okay?”

Pop. That was the sound of my bubble.

Okay. So maybe they don’t invite me for varied conversation. Maybe, I go to them for varied conversation. The truth is, if you want to imagine me in a nebach situation, it would be a teeny drop different than the dry-bread-in-a-dark-room situation.

You’d have to imagine me in a brightly lit, spacious apartment, at a table brimming with food and surrounded by friends, all carrying on an LCD conversation about… dating. It sounds so familiar, I suspect we had the exact same conversation last week.

“Hey, anyone try any new recipes lately? Read any good books?” I try.

Blank looks.

“Um, how’s work?”

“Ugh, not on Shabbos.”

“Goethe? Post-modern art? How about that government shutdown? The weather?”

“C’mon. This is what I come here for,” a guest says. “To get in my weekly crabbing about dating.”

Sigh.

Diaper brand comparisons? After-school daycare? Bring it on.

Nebach me.

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Living Out of Town

“A guy moved here last year for a great job with a great company. He stayed here about three months before he packed it in and left. He said that if he stayed, he would probably never go on another date again.”

I guess three months was long enough to go out with the 6 single women in town.

People: if more singles lived out of town, more singles could live out of town.

Be brave.

Be bold.

Leave the tri-state area.

Where Are All the ‘Singles’ Communities?

I know about Washington Heights and the infamous *hushed voice* Upper West Side.  I’ve heard there’s even spillover into northern NJ. And there’s Baltimore. But is that it? Two metropolitan locations on the Eastern seaboard are the sum total of options for orthodox single people to live after they’ve grown out of their parents’ house? It seems kind of limiting.

Does anyone know of any that I’m missing?

If not, how about colonization? If we can get about 30 singles to seed a nice location, and then make a big to-do in all the newspapers and publications of a digital and print sort, I’m sure other people would follow.

There are distinct benefits to living out of town. The cost of living index for NYC averages about 200. (100 is average for the country.) The cost of living index for South Bend, Indiana is 98. For Portland, Oregon, 109. Indianapolis, 88. Milwaukee, 101. Moreover, all of these places are less crowded. Some are even downright pretty. The less urban may have fewer cultural opportunities, but they make up for that with greater access to sporting activities. (Imagine not having to drive two hours to find a hiking trail!) And did you know that a few years ago Waterbury, CT was rated among the best places to live?

Some of those places could use a yeshiva, ’tis true. If the guys are in Lakewood, it’s a bit of a trek for them to meet you in Denver. Which is why I think that all those Lakewood kollelim that are scattered about the country should also include a junior division. Yeshiva guys should be encouraged to learn in out of town communities. Even just temporarily.

Yes… I like that, actually. Temporarily. They can come, learn and date, and then leave. They’ll get to meet the local single populace, and as an extra bonus, experience life outside the tri-state area.

So, how do we start?