Thursday Link: 29/31

Thanks O for sending me this. You will want to cover your ears toward the end. The language heads downhill around 1:30 and takes a nosedive at 2:00. But I can’t resist posting it because it’s just true… although when you’re Orthodox, it’s called 22/24.


Women are From… Oh Sorry

Dear Bad4,

Last week’s post about communicating through the shadchan reminded me of weird feedback I get after some of my dates. Things like “she needed to go to bathroom after drinking all that diet coke” or “you took her to a shopping mall where she’s bound to meet friends” or basically, “you should have read her mind.” Why don’t girls tell you these things on dates? How else am I supposed to know?


A Long-Time Dater


If you’ve been reading marriage books and shalom bayis books, set them aside. The married woman (defined as wedded for more than one year) “owns” you, and therefore treats you as a possession. But if she doesn’t own you yet, then you’re dealing with quite a different animal.  And there is one thing you should know about most women: they don’t want to inconvenience you.

Trust me on this one. Someone lifted my phone and sold it to a ghetto-dweller last week. When I finally made contact with the guy, it took him about 5 minutes to make me feel guilty for wanting my phone back. I mean, he paid for it, right? I couldn’t demand it back without compensating him his loss. And since he didn’t have a car and it was cold and snowy, and he was doing me a favor by returning it, I couldn’t really demand that he pay to take a bus to my neighborhood to do me the favor of returning his purchase, right? I should go pick it up from his.

Then I felt guilty about inconveniencing the cops over what was really just petty theft. And depriving my male accompaniment of the timely comfort of his supper. And even after I got my phone back smelling like marijuana, containing Pepper50 in my contacts list, and sporting a photo of its temporary owner as the background, I still felt sorry for the guy in the backseat of the police car.

I mean, I could have replaced the phone for a hundred bucks and I would only have had to enter  145 contacts by hand and it wouldn’t be such a big deal to fly cross-country for vacation the next day without a phone… really I didn’t need to put all those people through all that trouble, did I? The guilt will haunt me for all eternity.

Or, well, for a few weeks at least.

If you read articles about why women don’t succeed in the workplace (I do), they tend to list the same set of crimes: not demanding higher salaries, not negotiating, not interrupting men when they speak at meetings. Sometimes not speaking at meetings at all unless asked directly. Not arguing, disagreeing, or grabbing the best projects ahead of everyone else.

Why? Well, they don’t want to embarrass anyone. Or put down anyone. They don’t want to seem aggressive or greedy or difficult to please. They don’t want to be difficult, disagreeable, or inconvenient. And they’re not even on dates with strangers when they exhibit these behaviors!

So, no. She will not interrupt the flow of your conversation to ask if you can move someplace warmer. She will not disturb your walk along the beach for the small matter of a bathroom break. She will not tell you that she’s fleishigs when you take her Starbucks; she’ll manage with tea.

After all, the conversation or the walk is going so well, and you might feel bad about Starbucks and what if you don’t have a backup location to go to? It would put you on the spot and you might feel bad or even resentful or think that she’s pushy and it’s not important, really…

…Not important until the shadchan asks how the date was and she can’t remember how it went because all she can remember is needing the bathroom.

Like it? Hate it? Oh I hope not. If there’s anything I can do to help ease that feeling, let me know. I’d hate to think you were upset or discomfited by anything we did.

Above Love

What intrigued me most about this conversation was my coworker’s perspective on the question: does marriage need love?

When I was in the bais yaakov system, they repeatedly informed us that love comes after marriage. You pick out someone you’ll be compatible with in terms of personality and hashkafa, and then you fall in love with them afterwards.

I took this on faith, the same way I took most everything on which I had no other perspective, and sallied forth to look for someone compatible to marry.

We all know that yeshiva educations are lacking in many ways. Science, math, history, and basically any secular study. Well, I have found another gaping hole in the education of our young men. It dawned on me slowly, but about a year or so into my dating career it crystallized: nobody had told any of my gentleman callers that love came after marriage. My dates wanted to fall giddily in love before they proposed, and when they didn’t, they told the shadchan “no.”

The one who left me most confused was the guy who was clearly smitten on date one, but failed to ever be smitten again, and after four dates gave the shadchan a garbled excuse for why he didn’t want to go out again, but which even the shadchan admitted boiled down to “Not sure what happened but let’s not keep trying.” I was puzzled. Didn’t he realize that his crush was a shallow, ephemeral rush of hormones created by a combination of lighting and angles and gazing into eyes and as easily gained or lost as the conditions permitted?

But eventually I came around. I realized that love was clearly an important thing, and by not insisting on it, I was short-selling myself. I decided that I too would require my dates to be conceivably loveable in order for us to go out again.

I wish I could say that this changed my dating life. That I started a career as a dating diva, turning down guys because they were too hairy, or skinny, or big-footed. That wasn’t what happened. What happened was that, instead of the guy saying “no” after date two while I dithered “Well, if he’s interested”—instead, we both said “no” after date two, and my ego came out much the less bruised for it.

I’m not going to lie. I enjoyed that phase of my dating career. There was such certainty in it. I never felt guilty about turning down a guy whose company I didn’t mind but who didn’t have a bat’s chance at the optometrist of interesting me romantically. Nor did I feel very bad when one of those guys turned me down. “I wasn’t so into him anyway,” I’d shrug.

There was some cognitive dissonance. I mean, who is into anyone after spending 4-8 hours with them in a formal setting? Do I have a single friend in my life that I fell in love with at first sight? Or even second sight? (Actually, some of my oldest friends are people that I hated at first sight.) Dating like this was some kind of absurd parody, and it was never going to land me a mate. Why was I even trying?

Worst of all was the fear lurking just below the surface: was I in the right, or was this the highway to picky older singlehood? If Mr. Perfect showed up, would I turn him down for failing to make my heart flutter?  Absurd from one perspective, reasonable from another, and completely theoretical from every which way. Mr. Perfect never showed, or else he never agreed to a third date, so I didn’t need to face down my theories with my beliefs.

I coasted along until a late-night conversation with a friend.

“You’re not a guy,” she informed me. “You can think with your head. You pick someone reasonable and you try to make him fall in love with you.”

“You make it sound so easy,” I groused.

“I know, I shouldn’t talk. I don’t have guys falling at my feet either. And I haven’t met any that I’d want to. But if I found a half-normal Sephardi guy to marry, I would do it in a second, love optional.”

With that, I was back in mega-uncertainty mode. Not that it mattered, since I didn’t date anyone half-normal for quite a while, but lacking a principle to live by was troublesome.

And now, here was the lab tech, telling me the same thing as my bais yaakov teachers: pick someone likable for whatever accessories they have, and let love follow after marriage.

Wrong? Right? Indifferent? Say it below.

Let’s Riot!

Ezzie sent me this link about sex-selective abortion in the east from the Freakanomics blog a while ago. Mostly what I got out of it was the following paragraph:

In Egypt, for example, at last count fully 50 percent of men age 25 to 29 were unmarried. That’s a huge number in a society that is very focused on family. Some scholars contend such low marriage rates have left a population of easily influenced young men—and helped contribute to the Arab Spring protests earlier this year.

Did you see that? When women are stuck being single you get Gone with the Wind: pining at home or catfighting over wedding bands. When men are stuck single, they riot and overthrow governments.

Which sounds more fun to you?

We women have come a long way in the past century. We can vote, we can work, we earn and advance in the working world as equals with men. But we still can’t bring ourselves to riot.

Ladies, it’s time to take control of our lives. Are we going to forever be playing catchup with the male population?

We’re single too! Let’s react to that as equals with men!

We can’t afford to be left behind!

We must let the world know about our discontent!

We too have a right to smash things when we’re upset!

Yes we can!

Let’s riot!

Agree or Disagree?

Conversation about manicures is proceeding. Mr. S declares himself out of his depth. 

Mrs. S: Some men get manicures.

Mr. S: Really?

Good4: Yeah, it makes their nails look nicer.

Bad4: But not with polish.

Good4: Clear polish. Uh huh.

Mr. S: I don’t know… it doesn’t seem manly.

Bad4: Well, a whole lot of things that are passed off as “manly” are just plain gross.

Mr. S: Yes, well, that’s the point of being manly. You get to gross out women.

Still Off Topic: How You Peeve

Okay, here’s the fun part. Here’s a list of things that annoy people. Go through the list and tell us the following:

1 – are you male or female?

2 – are you guilty of said behavior?

3 – are you annoyed by said behavior?

Be honest – and be pseudonymous if you must, but be honest. This is data collection going on.

Since I suppose it’s only fair that I go first…

List of Peeves

singing/humming/whistling to yourself whilst going about your business

always having a negative attitude [Always irritating.]

constantly criticizing other people/things [Ditto]

leaving things on your bed and/or desk

staying for way too long and talking with absolutely every person at any and all social functions [That’s my host at the kiddush the morning I’m actually ravenous.]

never asking directions

drinking straight from the sink as if it’s a water fountain, with no cup [Not annoyed by it, not guilty of it.]

having too many shoes [Is there such a thing?]

putting back empty containers [That’s just stupid. And annoying.]

Putting back jars without screwing the tops on properly [Ye-ah that’s annoying. Says the girl mopping pickle juice off the kitchen floor.]

cracking knuckles [Occasionally guilty. I mean, knuckles sometimes need cracking… Not annoyed by it.]

Setting your alarm for very early and definitely before anyone else wants to get up

hitting snooze repeatedly because you set that alarm before even you want to get up [Had a sem roommate who did this. The only reason I never killed her was because I was too tired to get out of bed. The worst part? It was this jaunty dance tune. Argh!]

setting an alarm even though you sleep right through it [Had a sem roommate who did this too. It was practically a chorus of ignored alarm clocks in there. I offered to break this one’s alarm clock, and I offered to wake her up instead. The latter suggestion went over better.]

Leaving the shopping bags anywhere and everywhere instead of putting everything in place.

Talking on the phone when I am trying to fall asleep.

Not putting books back on shelves.

Leaving clothes to hang on the back of the bathroom door. [Messy, but only irritating if they never ever get moved. Not guilty.]

Not making one’s bed

clicking/tapping pens

dripping water all over the bathroom floor after a shower [This one bugs me. I mean, why should I have to wear water shoes in my own bathroom? Not guilty, of course.]

Being cheerful in the morning [Sometimes guilty. Depends what it’s the morning of and whether my roommate hates cheerful people.]

Making noise when I’m asleep (or before I’ve had my coffee)

Leaving books in the bathroom [I’m always amused when people have libraries next to the toilet. Seriously, how much time can you spend there?]

Leaving a computer in the bathroom [The mind rebels. Not peeved, though.]

Eating in front of the computer

Giving pet names to the spiders and yelling at anyone who dares to touch them

Allowing the dog on the coach and the bed

Letting a cat eat in one’s plate

Not putting back the drinks in the fridge [Not guilty, yes peeved. Clean up after yourself.]

Drinking from the carton [If it’s your own personal carton, I don’t care what you do, but keep your lips off anything we share. Wouldn’t do it myself, though, barring dehydration and lack of cup.]

Leaving toothpaste uncapped/capping it sloppily [Toothpaste, if not carefully maintained, has the capacity to degenerate into something decidedly messy.  Keep it neat, please.]

Squeezing toothpaste from top not bottom [Oh how this bothers me. It is just plain wrong.]

Hair/stubble in the sink/shower [I try not to do it and appreciate the same consideration.]

Toilet paper over versus under

Socks left on the floor

Clothes tossed over chairs [Yeah, I do it. And usually put it away the next day. You couldn’t recreate my week’s dress history by drilling through archeological strata on my armchair or anything. I think randomly chucked clothing is fine, as long as you keep most of your clothing in the closet, not draped over the furniture. I mean, if you’re trying on a gazillion outfits in search of the perfect one, you can’t be expected to hang rehang every item you go through in your quest.]

Toilet seat up/down [Keep it down!]

Hanging laundry to dry on the shower rod [Bothersome, but not grievously irritating. I generally avoid it.]

Scattered shoes/slippers

Things stuffed into drawers

Closet doors left open

Things not returned to their places (be it bathroom scale or box of tissues)

Leaving lights on [Turn off lights behind you. This one bugs me. I don’t do it.]

Leaving dishes in the sink [Guilty. Well, why do dishes three times a day when you can do them only once?]

Leaving things in the pockets of laundry [Pockets? Who has pockets? You must be male.]

Slurping soup [Eyew. Please please please don’t do it. I only do when I’m trying to make the parentals despair.]

Not replacing toilet paper that’s run out [If you don’t do this then you are a selfish and shortsighted… irritating person. So there.]

Makeup left on sink [Is this referring to goopy things dribbled on the sink or bottles?]

Discovering a New Specie

Let’s face it. In the orthodox world, we don’t get to meet the other gender too much. So when we’re growing up we get all our information from books and from our siblings (who we know perfectly well aren’t normal specimens, because if the rest of the world was like them why haven’t we self-destructed yet?)

Then comes dating. A short, intense, and gruesome period of being chained to within a ten foot radius of one of those creatures. The result? Only mildly enlightening. Again, you are full of hope that you just met the exception, not the rule. Generalizations are brutal and cathartic (“boys are stupidheads”) and not even believed by the speaker after a week of chocolate, long nights of sleep, and being set up with a better guy.

Then comes marriage! You’ve finally found the perfect representative of the opposite specie. And you are living together in close quarters and mutual trust. The sort of position any naturalist would love to be in. But you’re not swapping with them, because this is amazing. It’s charming. It’s entertaining. It’s like finally meeting the star of a novel or movie.

Here, right here, is a Woman! And she’s just like you heard. Chatters a lot. Wrings her hands over what to wear. Whirls about the kitchen with the best of intentions but dubious results. Fills most of the bathroom with little tubs, bottles, and jars with uses beyond your comprehension. Finds a subtextual insult in all your well-meaning phrases.

Alternatively: here is Man. He leaves the toilet seat up. Scatters used socks across the bedroom. Presents you with flowers with such an earnest expression and thinks it’s the flowers you like. Believes everything tastes better deep fried. Has feelings as fragile as your own, though he’d be insulted if you pointed it out.

Or whatever. The generalizations are different every time. Leave a man in an apartment with a woman for three months and he believes that he’s ready to write the field guide on the female specie. And the same in reverse.

The single friend must learn to control her eyes, preventing them from rolling, while listening to the NMF (both male and female) spew bright-eyed, enthusiastic generalizations about how women are so mercurial and men are so hairy (I quote from real life) based on (one hopes) experience with only one member of the species.

Fear not, my friends. This too shall pass. Well, maybe not, but it’ll slow. Until they have sons and daughters and a whole new set from which to draw their observations.