I Scrubbed My Brain, But the Stain is Still There

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that a guy called a friend to ask about me, but insisted on remaining anonymous.

He wasn’t completely anonymous, though. Based on his questions, I pegged him as dead-on yeshivish. And based on his area code, he was apparently from Monsey.

And I have a problem with yeshivish guys from Monsey.

Someone who self-described as “yeshivish” solicited a friend on a (admittedly skeezy) Jewish dating website.

Now, whenever I hear about a possible match with a yeshivish guy from Monsey, I wonder: could that be him?

I know this soliciting sleazebag is about 31 years old. I know he still lives with his parents. While that’s not enough to identify a secret skank beyond a shadow of a doubt, it’s enough to cast a shadow on a very small population subset.

Is that good enough reason to refuse to go out with 31-year-old yeshivish men from Monsey who live with their parents?

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Yeshiva in the Marriott

I recall once sitting in the women’s section of a bais-midrash-and-shul and watching the boys learn below. They bent over their books, they consulted with each other, they consulted with even more others, they flipped through books to point things out, but for the most part it was a quiet operation. Still, I’ve heard it can get pretty heated, with arms waving, more books being opened, and crowds gathering, taking sides, and putting money on the winner.

Okay, maybe not that.

But anyway, I’ve always believed this scene of heated Talmudic debate, because it basically describes Also4 when he and I are home at the same time. And I’ve always wondered: is this some magical affect that I have on yeshiva boys? Or is it yeshiva guys in general who have a proclivity to boisterous debate?

I have not dated too many serious learners. In general, friends and family assume I’m slightly off the bais yaakov derech, so they set me up with the “weak” boys — the ones with the jobs and the hobbies and sometimes [lowered voice] the college degrees.

But I’ve been out with a few. And they all went like Shabbos lunch with Also4. We disagreed on everything, even when we agreed. We argued just for the sake of arguing. We wrinkled our noses at each other, insisted the other misunderstood, and were positive that the person sitting opposite each of us was clueless.

Yes, I’ve had superlatively heated debates on dates.

I remember the first time this happened. I came home from the Marriott utterly distraught. “He said YU is wrong. How could he say that? Then he said modern science is right. Then he sneered at me for being religious.” Apparently, it’s okay to try to make your date look dumb by playing devil’s advocate and seeing what happens. I had been under the impression that exchanging dissonant ideas wasn’t a bad way to spend a first date, but after that date I changed my mind.

Civilized debate, to my mind, goes like this:

Gentleman: I think A. [sips tea with pinkie sticking out]

Gentlewoman: Oh really? I happen to think B, myself. [helps self to a crumpet]

Gentleman: Oh dear. You do know that A is supported by fact X, don’t you? [nibbles on a biscuit]

Gentlewoman: No, I didn’t, but I do know fact Y.

Gentleman: Hm. But are you aware of fact Z? [deep, satisfied draught of tea]

Gentlewoman: Yes, and it is countered, to my mind, by fact C. [dabs mouth with lace-edged handkerchief]

Gentleman: Interesting. Well, I suppose I can see you might choose to believe B. What do you think of the weather?

Gentlewoman: Oh! Unseasonably warm, don’t you think?

[Conversation turns to meteorologics]

I mean, let’s face it: how many arguments have you seen where one party actually convinces the other? On a point of law, perhaps. But as soon as you leave black-n-white territory, you leave most of your chances of making a conversion.  Disrespecting your debating partner, however, is a fantastic way to ensure that he or she pays no attention to you whatsoever.

Debate with my Yeshiva Guy went like this:

Yeshiva Guy: A is fact.

Me: Actually, I’ve got reason to believe B.

Yeshiva Guy: [snort] Seriously? B? You do know fact Z, right?

Me: No, but, what about Y?

Yeshiva Guy: [waving hand] Y! Please. Everyone knows what Y really is. And how about Z?

Me: But I think that’s countered by C. [sits back and crosses arms]

Yeshiva Guy: Oh, I see. You’re one of those people.

[Subtext: How did I get set up with you? My mother didn’t do enough research! Boy am I going to complain loudly when I get home.]

For the record, yeshiva guys: this is not how a good date goes.

This has happened to me with no less than three oreos; four if you count the Chofetz Chaim boy who showed up in a regimental blue shirt and spoke earnestly about going forth and doing good rabbinical missionary work in foreign nations like Indiana.

However, I am willing to assume a little bit of the responsibility here. Maybe Talmudic Lawyers aren’t schooled in tea-table debate, but I’m the one disagreeing in the first place. I have discovered that many women never disagree with their dates at all! They nod, smile, and at their most contentious, gently question. “Oh! You really think X is the best explanation for G? Well, I don’t know about these things, but I always thought sort of Yish. But what do I know.” Then they go home and tell the shadchan that they’re not interested, while the bewildered boy asks for a second date.

Possibly, this is an important tool missing from my toolchest, when it comes to getting second dates with men who have bi-chromatic wardrobes.

But then again, honestly, who wants to go out again with a guy who thinks X? That’s crazy when you know Y!

You Can’t Win (Unless You’re Clued In)

Diagnostic Criteria for 299.803 Social Asperger’s Disorder
[The following is from Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM IV]

(I) Qualitative impairment in social normalization, as manifested by at least two of the following:

(A) marked impairments in the use and comprehension of social conventions
(B) failure to develop career aspirations and dress preferences in lockstep with peers
(C) a lack of spontaneous seeking to share and duplicate the life experience of the peer group

(II) Restricted repetitive & stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests and activities, as manifested by at least one of the following:

(A) encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal for the demographic
(B) apparently inflexible adherence to specific, functional routines or rituals in opposition to non-functional social conventions
(C) persistent preoccupation with purpose, point, or utility of behaviors
(III) The disturbance causes clinically significant impairments in social, occupational, or other important areas of interaction with the given peer group.

(IV) There is no clinically significant general delay in language (E.G. single words used by age 2 years, communicative phrases used by age 3 years)

(V) There is no clinically significant delay in cognitive development or in the development of age-appropriate self help skills, adaptive behavior (other than in social interaction) and curiosity about the environment in childhood.

(VI) Criteria are not met for another specific Pervasively Weird Disorder or Antisocial Mania.”

Do you ever get the feeling that everyone else in society was issued a manual at birth, or maybe upon graduation, but somehow you were left out of the distribution list? I imagine this is how an Aspie feels when everyone is laughing at a well-turned bit of sarcasm. Which is why I decide to call it Social Asperger’s.

Every now and then the fog of incomprehension that often hovers between me and today’s yeshivish/ultra-orthodox Jewish norms lifts, and I see the light, and a big “Eureka!” pops out of my mouth. I bask in smugness at unraveling the mystery, when suddenly I realize: everyone else knew this all along.

I had one of these “aha” moments while rereading this post last week. In the post, I complain that I’m branded as “immature” and “unready for marriage” because I don’t have plans for a career yet. This struck me as unfair because my flexibility was what left room for a spouse in my life.

I laughed when I reread it because now I have the opposite problem. Having chosen a field, I’m considered too nerdy or smart to date anyone in any other field. Having launched a career, I’m now considered too career-oriented and geographically bound to date pretty much anyone.

Catch-22, right? You just can’t win. I mean, what kind of career would have satisfied these Women? Only one that’s more obviously transplant-able and non-ambitious. Like masseuse maybe?

Or – oh. I see.

OT, PT, SP, and SE.

Ooh. I get it. Now I get it.

Man, I am slow.

Now See Hair…

I always thought it was just the yeshivish community that had an unreasonable grudge against curly hair, perhaps dating back to when straight was in fashion. Or when curly was in fashion. We tend to be slightly out of step with out prejudices. Sometimes the line is “That’s in fashion! It therefore can’t be modest to dress that way!” But other times, the argument is,  “Nobody wears that, so it’s completely unacceptable  to stand out like that.”

Curly hair, sadly, gets the negative end of both approaches. When curly is in, it’s fashionable-and-therefore-wrong. (“Why would you want to look like some pruste bum from Hollywood?”) When curly is out, it’s outlandish (“It stands out and screams ‘look at me! I want attention!'”).

So, I always thought it was a frum thing. Until NMF#7 sent me this link about curly hair in the general population, making me wonder if the curly prejudice isn’t more widespread than I thought. Really? A mainstream woman in a liberal artsy field complaining about hair discrimination? We totally need a support group.

What on earth is wrong with curly hair?

The Bein Hazmanim Feeding Frenzy Has Begun

“The boys are back!”

The clarion calls sounds through Brooklyn, and is immediately followed by the clatter of heels on pavement as every mother of a bachelorette joins the stampede.

“The boys are back!” the murmur spreads across the city. Young ladies crane their necks out the window and then hurriedly pull them back in to dab on some makeup and check their hair.

“The boys are back!” the younger siblings whisper, pressing their ears against closed doors and comparing filched profiles behind the couch.

The boys are back!

Yes, it is bein hazmanim, and droves of eligible young men are pouring into the tri-state area and other Jewish metropolises. These are hungry salmon, looking to date vociferously before the season is up and they need to return to their swimming grounds in the Holy Land.

Once a week dating? Leave the leisure for the dog days. If the tempo of every other night is too much for you, get out of the race. There are hordes of women vying to give it a try in your stead. You have only three weeks to cram in the dating experiences of a month – hurry, hurry, hurry!

Who knows? He might be the One!