Same Page of the Rulebook

There are so many Rules for how to live life and date. No problem with that – in general, they’re helpful. Except when they’re not. Like when they conflict.

Take the general rule that you should always arrive five minutes early. Or be ready five minutes early. I’m always ready five minutes before a date, but my dates, for their part, rarely seem to operate on the Five-Before rule. They either lurk outside waiting until the clock strikes before they push the bell, or they show up somewhat later.

“He’s late,” my mother might observe.

“No,” I answer. “He’s probably operating by the Five-Late Rule. That the guy should show up five minutes late, because the girl is never ready on time.” I’ve  even heard of the Fifteen-Late Rule, but I hope nobody actually does that. So not appreciated.

Then there are the dinner-date Rules. Like the What to Eat rules. I’ve always wondered: if a guy takes you out for falafel, does it mean he knows the rules and is purposely ignoring it for kicks, or is he ignorant? I don’t know, so just in case I don’t lick my fingers.

(I must observe: it’s amazing how much different eating a burger feels when you’re across the table from a guy you barely know. When I was quite small I was sometimes told I had a big mouth. I discovered, when faced with a giant hamburger, that the mouth hasn’t kept up its growth. I just couldn’t take a bite without making what felt like a pretty silly face. To my utter shame, I found myself eating the burger with a knife and fork. What must he have thought… the mind blushes. No wonder we didn’t last long.)

What about the Rules for ordering? When I go out for dinner and the guy says “I’m not really hungry” and orders the cheapest thing on the menu, I wonder, “Does he know the rule that the girl orders something of comparable or lesser value than her date, so as not to put him out of pocket?” Then I shrug, figuring that if he does, and went ahead and ordered a $6 side as his entrée, he deserves a spank in the wallet. So I order whatever looks good, short of the house steak.

Humans have this compulsive need to make rules, starting from when they’re little kids inventing a game. (“No, you have to count to five before you move, and then over there you can only throw the ball to someone behind you, unless I’m standing over there…”) In theory, the rules are supposed to simplify things. (Kids don’t discover this until later.) You’re supposed to know exactly where you stand when you play by the Rules.

However, general knowledge of the Rules varies across the orthodox Jewish community and as a result, messages become garbled, daters befuddled.

Let’s do something!

I would like to recommend a comprehensive community education movement. It’s important for our young men and women to know how to conduct themselves during this most important of interviews: the date.

Do not stand idle on the blush of your brethren!

We’ll create an organization with a name that includes Irgun and Zecher in it; hire married women and kollel yungermen on a part-time, flexible basis; and start offering lectures, mini-courses, and guest speakers for high schools and conventions.

Together we can change the world!

A special panel of experts (advised by rabbanim whose signatures will appear on the bottom of our fliers) will examine current conflicting Rules and decide on which to keep or modify and which to throw out. They will also compose new Rules as they deem necessary.

Don’t just stand there!

Your donation will go toward printing handy little Qik-Ref booklets that fit into handbags and pockets for discreet reference under the table or in the bathroom, as necessary.

Who is with me?

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