Quote of the Week and Reason for Getting Married (Unnumbered)

Overheard by Relarela: “I want to get married so that my friends will make me shtick.”
Well, granted, shtick is when you find out exactly how interesting you are, or how interesting your friends think you are. Don’t you ever wonder what they’ll come up with for your wedding? Sometimes I’m terrified that I’ll get married and people will show up with some lame maypole and arches and that’ll be it, and then and there, on my wedding night, I will learn how truly boring I am.

Wedding-night suicides happen outside of The Princess Bride too, you know.
It’s a depressing possibility. Almost makes me want the opposite: not get married so that I don’t see whether my friends make shtick or not.


Friday Repost: More Shadchanim

Personally, I think trying to discuss your ideals in marriage at a wedding is a recipe for disaster. (See this item about sign language.)

But sometimes, it’s just the people you’re talking to who are a disaster… Like this poor friend of mine, who I’m glad to say, has since married a guy who matched her description exactly, and the Women in Black’s not at all.

The Truth is They’re Out There

I’m talking about the Women in Black.

They warned me about them when I returned from seminary. These women would be watching me at weddings, on the street, at casual events… they’d be taking notes, and if they liked me, they would marry me off. My fate was in their hands.

I didn’t believe in them.

My argument was rudimentary: I didn’t see them, ergo they didn’t exist. None of them ever asked my name from me or any of my friends. I went to weddings, marched the streets, and attended events without once feeling their gaze penetrating the back of my Little Black Suit. So I discounted their existence.

Well I was wrong. They do exist. But I don’t merit their attention. That’s the sad fact.

I know they exist because a younger friend of mine recently entered shidduchim at a belated age. And she can’t seem to get away from the Women in Black. They’re the neighbor in her friend’s living room. They’re the woman who gives her a ride home from a wedding. They split a piece of seven-layer-cake with her at the kiddush.

She tells me with a startled delight about how she just asked this woman for a ride home from a wedding and in the car it turned out the woman was a shadchan and had asked for her information and thought she had a boy for her. She tells me about the woman she met in a living room who makes shidduchim and will certainly be on the lookout for her. She recites a veritable litany of “accidental” meetings with Women in Black. But oh – I know it’s not accident. No: when the Women in Black want to find you, they find you.

It’s depressing.

The only time I ever met a Woman in Black at a wedding was when one asked me the name of one of my friends. I thought it was a fluke. But no, it’s not them. They exist. It’s me. I don’t exist. Not on their radar, anyway. The Women in Black have seen me and they did not care to dwell on what they saw.

Yeah, that’s depressing.

And liberating. The Women in Black aren’t keeping tabs on me! Wahoo! No need for obsequious kowtowing to their standards! Let’s go running down Avenue J with pajama pants sticking out from under our denim skirts!

Thinking About the Couple

So, I’m at a wedding, sitting at the chupah. There are these tehillim cards on the seats so you can engage your mouth in a productive way during the ceremonies. The first three folds are tehillim, and after that are a string of personal prayers: for successful children, for a spouse, for health, for long life, for sustenance…

Don’t get me wrong. On an ordinary day I would go straight through all of those from beginning to end without compunction. But not at a chupah. When I’m at a chupah I want to be davening for the couple. They’re about to set out on a perilous journey (etc etc), and a new marriage is, in many ways, scarier than eternal spinsterhood. At their own chupah, would it be too much to ask for a few prayers?

And yet, at their own chupah even the couple aren’t davening for themselves. They prepare these long lists of friends to daven for, for all the items listed above. I’m sure it’s wonderful for them to be so selfless at this pivotal moment in their life, but is it really the best use of their time?

But what the bride and groom do is their own business. As a perennial member of the audience, though, I’d like to request a Prayer for a Couple Getting Married to be written and published in these pamphlets. Is anyone up for the job?

To Each Their Own

Visited a museum this weekend. One item that piqued my interest was the mention of a courtship dance performed by northwestern American Indian men. It involved wooden wands decorated with buckskin fringes; beyond that no details were provided. Alas, YouTube has none either, but you can guess what it may look like from related footage. I think it would be fun if our guys had to dress up in fringes and eagle-feather bustles to court us, don’t you?

Of course, in the next room over it discussed the Wedding Trade. And you thought we had it down to an irritating science, what with who gets the sheitel and who gets the bechar and who pays for the band and who gets the couple for the first Pesach. Well, among the Wasco, Walla Walla, and Paiute, it’s something like this:

The boy’s family gives the horses. The girl’s family gives food. The boy’s family provides skins, the girl’s family, baskets. And there are gifts of clothing and jewelry and wampum and goodness knows what else, each required by one of the sides. The description, given by soundbyte, went on for about 5 minutes.

Just in case you thought we were unique and particularly obsessive.

There was a section with period actors and actresses, so I strolled into a woman’s kitchen as she was doing her dishes. “Goodness!” she exclaimed to her neighbor who was keeping her company. “Why she’s the first woman I’ve seen all day who’s dressed appropriately!”  I agreed that it was scandalous how some of these other visitors dressed, but perhaps it was understandable considering the difficulty of obtaining or making fabric out on the frontier. Well, naturally we got to talking, and she asked me, point blank, without any of that smothering sensitivity one expects in frummer areas, if I was a spinster.

I guess it’s obvious enough, if not exactly written on my forehead.

I admitted  that I was indeed a spinster.

Seeing my somewhat abashed expression, she hastened to assure me that being a spinster was nothing bad – it was being a productive member of society, earning your own keep, so you didn’t need a husband. And heaven knew they could use a spinster out there – she pulled her Montgomery Ward catalog off the shelf to show me how much yarn costs, and we agreed that I could certainly undercut the company by using local sheep and alpacas.

She thought if there were more independent women around, why, women might just get the vote! Not that her husband would let her vote – he thinks women are feebleminded –

Seeing the expression on my face (mostly embarrassment for her husband, actually), she hastened to assure me that he was a good, law-abiding man – obeys the rule of thumb, and never switches her with anything thicker than that digit.

I said I thought I was going to look into that spinster gig very seriously after all.