I’m Old – I’m Young – I’m Old

NASI, our local favorite do-gooding organization for singles, has come up with yet another dollar-driven plan to marry us all off.

For those not in the know, NASI is the North American Shidduch Initiative. They believe strongly that the Shidduch Crisis is an issue with numbers, but they also believe that it can fixed with numbers – number framed in green and in close proximity to a president, preferably.

NASI is regarded by this blog as a well-meaning but misguided fellow – the sort you’d pat affectionately on the head while explaining why yet another one of his crazy schemes won’t work. After all, they (whoever they are) do try hard. And they do seem to believe that their ideas are absolutely amazing. One imagines their little think tank arguing things out in an ivory tower before enthusiastically bursting forth to purchase full-page ads, without ever running them past a real, live person.

At lunch one day, Finance Manager was holding forth on the sorry state of the single scene in her life. She explained that all she wanted was a guy with a job and all his teeth and not a total jerk, but she couldn’t find one and that’s why she was still single. “Me too,” I agreed. She cast a cold glance at me, as if to say, “Did you hear mewling from the nursery?” Embarrassed, I realized two things:

(1) I was 25, which was probably a good 7 years younger than her, and too young to get married by her standards and

(2) I look about 20 and have the job generally held by an entry-level 21-year-old, which made my comment even weirder.

I’m used to being practically middle-aged, but her approbation jerked my life back into perspective. Hello! Bad4! You’re not that old yet!

Then, last week I see this little announcement by NASI. It’s yet another scheme – this time a GAMECHANGER! They’re going to marry off all those over-the-hill grannies (well, not grannies obviously – great-aunties?) with their latest and greatest Shidduch-Crisis-Solving Scheme.

Who are those old maids? Well, their scheme starts with the 22-year-olds…

Ouch.

Hey Finance Manager, don’t look at me like that. I am way old and single. NASI even said so.

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Travel the World, Meet New People, and…

Some are born shadchanim. Some achieve shadchanus. And some have shadchanus thrust upon them.

There are people who set up other people for a living. It is well known that they spend all their waking moments picking pink slips out of a pillbox hat and matching them to blue slips from a black Borsalino. There are also people who make a point of matching up singles. They meet singles and then meet other singles, and try to pair the two up. They create “shidduch circles” where they swap names with their friends. And so on.

And then…

And then there are the people who once set up their niece with the very nice boy down the block. Nothing much ever came of it, but the neighbor mentioned it to your aunt. And when your father said he was desperately seeking someone to set up his daughter, the aunt mentioned her to your father. And your father mentioned it to you, in the fashion of mentioning that strongly recommends follow-up action. And you, convinced that you’re going to see a professional shadchan of the first order, dress up, print crisp copies of your shidduch profile, and deposit yourself on her doorstep.

When does she sadly apologize for not being a shadchan? It varies. Sometimes it’s over the phone, so you have the option of discovering prior engagements that forces you to take an indeterminate rain check.

Sometimes it’s not until you ring her doorbell, and then you sit through the next half-hour being exceedingly engaging, because you know you’re wasting your time (and hers), but you don’t want it to show.

Sometimes it’s not until after the interview, when you realize that you just bared your soul to someone who was just being nice. She couldn’t bear to turn you away before. It wouldn’t have been nice to turn you down cold, considering your position as a rapidly aging single female. So she didn’t mention that she doesn’t actually know any boys (except the nice one down the block, but he’s married now to a very fine girl from Monsey). Now she can’t bear to see you leave with your hopes raised, so she breaks the news, very apologetically.

It’s not her fault. She just gave you an hour of her precious time too. And she’ll probably feel guilty for a whole day for not knowing who to set you up with. She might even call her friend to ask if her nephew is still single, only to find out that he’s learning at a yeshiva in Sydney for the next two years.

No, if anyone is responsible for the absurdity of the situation, it is that whole chain of people who are so desperate on your behalf that they conjure shadchanim out of the air where none exist, and pass them on, figuring, “It can’t hurt to meet people.”

Well, you can never tell.

It just takes the right person.

You need to be seen, you know.

Sometimes, chatting amiably to strange Women in Black, I wonder who failed to mention that the woman wasn’t actually a shadchan. Letsee… this woman is my mother’s, friend’s, friend’s… cousin? Sister-in-law? Something like that. So, it might have been the sister-in-law. Or the friend, or the other friend, or my mother.

I have to admire the number of links in the chain. Aren’t there only supposed to be three degrees of separation between orthodox Jews? And yet, here I am, discussing my  ideal mate with someone five degrees away; far enough for a serious game of broken telephone to take place.

My central nervous system generates glib answers to questions I’ve heard dozens of times before. Meanwhile, the back of my brain is wryly observing that in most aspects of my life, the opportunity to meet new people would be considered an exciting benefit. Really, why would this be any different?

I cross my ankles, sit up straighter, and try to enjoy the benefits of being single.

Now Here’s a Solution I Hadn’t Thought Of…

(Of which I hadn’t thought)

Marrying yourself.

After all, one is company, two’s a crowd, right? And who is more perfectly matched for themselves than themselves? You’re already used to your peccadilloes (which aren’t even so bad). You don’t mind picking up after yourself, you love your food, and you think all your jokes are hysterically funny. You never disagree on what to do with a Sunday afternoon, whether it’s too hot or too cold in the bedroom, or what newspaper to subscribe to. Yep, I think she’s on to something there…

Hat tip to the Overland Park reader and SiBaW.