My new hobby:
Most people either get nervous, anxious, or just plain pissed off at pointed prying questions badgering them about things as menial as yarmulke size to whether or not they have ever gone to a rated R movie. Most people hate to be interrogated, it makes them nervous to have to divulge their grisly details of their Jewish practices or their ambitions. People don’t like to be personal any more in general- look at our daily lives. The cell phone has replaced the operator that one used to have to call to dial out(imagine having to actually talk to a “live person” every time you wanted to call out)- and then no answering machines “hey uh I dint expect to get you I wanted your voice mail”. Or ATM machines or self service gas stations, car washes, and self checkout. Face it human kind does not want contact with each other. We hate the thought of having to speak to someone- everything is so automated that we have forgotten how to speak to one another.
Well this brings me to my new hobby. Talking to Shadchuns- that’s right I enjoy even look forward to talking to shadchunim- a new shadchun means at least 30-45 minutes of free entertainment, most young singles dread this activity- they all hate the prying and the judging. I love it, maybe I am some sicko, or maybe I love to talk, but I am the only I know of who enjoys this activity. Many view it as a chore, some are forced into it by their parents, some loathe the single life and fret about as they complain how they need some lovin’.
What is their to love? Well who else can you call up not know them at all and talk to about religion, politics and various opinions on the two. Please note most of the following paragraph must be read in a semi Yiddish- Boro park/Monsey Jewish lady who is in her mid 40’s accent. Not too many “vells” but plenty of New Yorkisms as I call them. “No pizza stores how do you eat, do you actually cook for yourself?”. I guess frum males never cook for themselves. Or how about the cosmic kippa scale:
Shadchun- So what kind of yarmulke do you wear? My favorite question btw
Me- well you know right now I have velvet one on, but I switch off depending on the weather, outfit etc..
Shadchun- (little bubble above shadchuns head) Switch off, no wonder he’s single. What exactly do you switch off between?
Me- well you know velvet is more weekdayish, suede more conservative and knit more casual summer style.
Shadchun- I am not sure I understand
Me- well in lamens terms, like women accessorize with their handbags.
Shadchun- I have a great girl for you, then they go on to tell me all about the family, they are so nice and they have money, and the parents are very smart.
Me- so what’s the girl like?
Shadchun- you know your average girl, smart pretty etc…
Me- that doesn’t tell me much, Is she into the outdoors?
Shadchun- we spoke about that and uh… she said shes OK with that
Me- what does that mean OK with that? I just told you my passion in life is driving 2000 miles to ride a 10 mile stretch of trail in Utah, and she’s OK with that. At this point I wished they made virtual reality phones so that I could strangle the Shadchun, all the while keeping the laws of shomer negia.-
Do Shadchuns actually listen to you? This of course is a central question in my sociological study of shadchunim. After much research and enjoyment I have decided half jokingly to try and keep a file in my head of the stupid things shadchuns say. I do tend to notice that they rarely call you up to tell about the girl- first comes the family. Well since this is the case- my blue collar roots just aren’t helping my case. I can just imagine the shadchun now. Oh his family is great his father is an electrician and his brother is a rock climber. They wouldn’t even bother asking about me- though I feel that if the shadchunim really listened to me and repeated the same things to the girls, they wouldn’t call me up at all.
Maybe shadchunim just want to throw you a bone once in a while so you think they are working on you. I eman OK with the outdoors is one thing- but do the girls know that they will be forgoing kosher pizza and shopping at Saks for the rest of their existence. Do they know that I will not tolerate MBD on my sound system, do they know that Blue Fringe is not in my CD collection. Have they even heard of the Beatles? Do Shadchuns relate important information, or do they just figure he’s 24 she’s 21 they both went to college and she doesn’t mind suede yarmulke’s as long as it’s not around the family?
I recently for shits and giggles put an ad on Craigslist.com that read “ Frum jewish, outdoorsmen, music junky seeks shidduch” I received an email from Shoshana H- who used to teach at MDS. She has a cousin who would be perfect for me. So she calls me up and the conversation gets interesting. (First off I wonder if this one of those married women looking for some aishes ish NSA) Don’t matter to me because I am bored tonight.
Me- So whats this girl like?
Shadchun- vell she’s more the Flatbush type even though her family lives in Boro-Park.
Me- does she even know where Albany is?
Shadchun- oh but you don’t plan on ACTUALLY living in Albany, what will you do there?
Me- As I stated before I enjoy the outdoors and small Jewish communities.
Shadchun- For now but when you have kids.
Me- yes when I have kids they will know what GRASS looks like.
Shadchun- Grass, Ich Veis Nisht, voos is dus
Me- So tell me (this is the part I like) What is the difference between Boro-Park and Flatbush besides size of hats and zip codes, I understand the quality of the pizza may be a bit different, and the mens mikvah’s are larger, I have also heard that the Chinese restaurants in Boro- Park do not serve the whole broccoli floret but only the stems. Oh and in Boro-Park they only wear grey and Black, sometimes Blue in the summer. But I digress these are mostly aesthetic qualities, WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE PEOPLE?
Shadchun- Vell you know? Some half Yiddish mumbling follows
Me- Excuse me.
Shadchun- So where do you plan on living? (Smart ones those shadchunim, maybe they took a course with Ari Fleischer) Change the subject real quick eh.
Me- you know upstate NY out west maybe…wherever I get a job
Shadchun- out west like Miami
Me- Nah like Denver, Portland, Seattle maybe.
Shadchun- oh in California… see those are big Jewish communities. But I am not sure this girl would be good for you because her parents want her close by- like maybe in Flatbush.
I met a shadchun named Mrs. F in Monsey while staying there for shabbos.
Let us skip to the good stuff.
Shadchun- So I see you want a more open minded girl.
Me- well what do you mean you see?
Shadchun- well your wear colored shirts on Shabbos.
Me- well open minded is always good, you know racists, homophobes and bigots just aren’t my type.
Shadchun- well you know, one who will accept you for who you are
Me- hmm a novel concept
Later that day at shalosh suedos- this women and my cousin arranged for some girl who she thought would be good for me to swing by the house for shalosh suedos.
The girl that came was quite cute- I mean I would do her, but not to judge , Oh fuck it Ill judge, I just don’t think I would click with a 20 year old girl who lives at home and is a bus monitor for a Bais Yaakov. I just don’t get these shadchuns- that’s why they make me so happy, they test ones intellect and logic. They are like a live rubix cube- always the same yet always impossible to figure out.
I feel that the reason I enjoy talking to shadchunim so much is that I don’t care- one may think I have one broken engagement under my belt and I better start being serious about getting married. The problem is that its summer- so while frummies are eating pizza in the Catskills- I am rolling in the mud with my bike and paddling my kayak through the upstate NY waterways. I guess community pressure to get married does not exist when there is no large community dictating whether or not you can use the internet for your job.
10 years ago it was “kids at risk” this was when the Frum community discovered that, get ready, Frum boys and girls drank and smoked and enjoyed the same sexual practices as everyone else on this planet GASP. Well switch to 2006 and we have the “Singles Crisis”, it’s kind of like whenever CNN or Fox news develops a new storyline such as “the war on terror” or “wicked weather” or “obesity crisis”, yeh catch phrases whenever the Jewish Press needs to sell more copies or the Homowack hotel isn’t selling out fun filled torah weekends. All of the sudden there is a crisis. It may even be a big conspiracy to unite the Jewish community against the problem of keeping our birth rates high because obviously there are too many single 21 year olds who don’t have nay kids. The days of the baby factory are over my friend. What actually constitutes a “singles crisis”- is it decided at the Hague or the Geneva Convention. Who starts the crisis. The Star–K couldn’t be them because they are actually giving a bonus to singles who marry Baltimore girls- there’s just something about that water in the Chesapeake Bay- causing too many single girls over 22, apparently the Brooklyn guys are not immune to this water and they don’t want to take a chance. Or maybe the RCA – they do like conspiracy or maybe the OU. Whoever it may be I definitely doubt it is a crisis- why is it that the singles scene on the UWS is not a crisis. Could it be that they may have JOBS and EDUCATION, rather then 2 years of seminary and a summer job at the bungalow colony, those bungalow jobs add wealth to your resume. Oh and let me tell you- I have heard from undisclosed sources on deep background that some shadchunim even ask for a resume. How do you write a cover letter to a girls parents. I would like the position of impregnating your girl at least 10 times and learning while you support me, and my wife cooks.
I have absolutely nothing against people who choose this lifestyle, by all means repopulate the inner regions of downstate NY and continue to make amazing kugel and all those other fine brown foods that adorn shabbos tables everywhere, but this crisis is filling up the editorials in our Jewish papers everywhere. One cannot go far without colliding with this absurd topic. I think this “crisis” may cause singles to feel that they are getting old and must quickly get married. The crisis creates a false notion amongst singles, the barrage of singles events and speed dating create this sense of desperation among singles, no wonder they cannot stand shadchunim.
I admit I am completely narrow minded when it comes to this. I understand there many communities in which a 22 year old girl or boy is an old hag already. Or maybe this is just part of the progression of the shidduch scene. Let us contemplate this semi-fact for a moment. The orthodox Jewish world takes a good deal longer then the non-Jewish world to realize fads, styles, or even reality. So I present to you- “the Woman’s Lib movement” you know somewhere around the late 60’s early 70’s when women decided to have careers in something other then walking incubators. Women decided to get jobs and stop having children. Women decided that childbirth sucks ass and working ruled. Switch to somewhere in the first 5 years of this millennia- Jewish women want to have careers too, granted it took them thirty years. The problem is that the Jewish Women’s Lib movement is lagging instead of getting married at 19, they get married after graduating Stern, and becoming an occupational therapist- (I have met hundreds of them and no one has any idea what they actually do.)
Of course since I am only recently single I have not had the will or means to go to “singles events” you know those ones that aren’t billed as single events but still are. “come hear a shiur by Rebetzin Jungreiss about finding your bashert” nope definitely not a singles event. Or hey its for singles but young couples can come too. Personally if singles events contained shadchunim I would jump at the opportunity. A bunch of New York singles talking about estihann’s sushi specials does not sound intruiging, but a bunch of nervous, intimidated singles sitting round a table with a shadchun giving advice oooh heavenly.
Other singles feel that they must move to neighborhoods with many singles yet they complain and bemoan the situation. Oh I hate the scene here (here may be the Upper West Side, or possibly Washington heights “the new up and coming singles scene”) yes constantly complaining about how they hate the scene yet they move into one of the more popular buildings, and hang out in the shulls which contain the scenes. But of course they hate it, they hate how shallow it is and everyone just going to shull to flirt rather then pray. Interesting the last time I checked the UWS contained probably upwards of 25 orthodox synagogues, yet singles always wind up in two of them. I had a cousin who lived on the UWS “a very hot one may I add” and no that’s not wrong because her parents were first cousins that got married- so ha I can think my cousin is mad hot if I want to. Anyway she constantly bemoaned the scene as gruesome and pathetic- yet every time me and my brother decided to stroll around central park when the weather was warm- there she was our little hot cousin/social butterfly flirting it up.
My problem is that I have not even entered the singles scene I am more of the sidelines/wallflower type. I try to get in the mix but its tough for tree-huggers, we alternative folks tend not to fit in no matter how much we try- actually I don’t try at all- rather I always portray myself as nuts. Typical conversation between me and “normal” people.
Girl- So what did you guys do last weekend?
Other Girl – you know went out Saturday night, ate out Sunday morning- caught up on sleep.
Girl- yeh I went to a movie after Shabbos, then you know hung out with friends
Boy- Shabbos I was on the UWS- it was chilling, Saturday night we went to this awesome bar.
Me- what was so good about the bar, was there live music?
Boy- oh no, no music it was just really cool.
Me- must have been something interesting
Girl- I went to this awesome bar too last week…..
Other girl- So what did you do last weekend? Pointed at me
Me- I can choose to be normal- stating that I hung out with friends and had fun(I actually rarely hang out with friends) Instead I always choose shock value- I love the looks on peoples faces when they find out you are from another planet- past Westchester county. I have tried to be normal I really have but it doesn’t work. See when I had long hair I didn’t even have to speak- it was so much fun”Oh so how long have you been frum?” always expecting me to be wack or on crack. So anyway I always answer the truth- the truth is I was riding my bike all weekend on some gnarly trails in the Catskills, furthermore I probably road some skate parks, wandered around some abandoned industrial sites. May have even went to some concert or some free show in a coffee shop, maybe hit up some flea markets. You see to normal 30 something’s this would be totally feasible but to young single orthodox Jews its just too much. I can see what is going on in their heads. “What is wrong with this guy? Does he actually have hobbies? What the heck is a flea market? Concerts are so goyishe.” I think I just desire to be different its some sort of complexity I have. I like to be different amongst Jews- other people don’t matter. I am a hobby snob, I can blame it on A.D.D. for now.
Anyway the usually responses to this would be “oh that’s nice” so did you hear about the Kiddush at OZ this coming weekend- its gonna be hot. Or oh that’s nice your 24 years old and you still ride your bike- so childish.
Singles do not provide nearly as much entertainment as shadchunim do. They just don’t have the same responses as shadchunim do. Maybe I am not hanging around with the right singles. Myabe I need to infiltrate the ultra orthodox singles community. You see shadchunim tend to be weathered from years of hocking with frummies, while if singles are over 22 and living their own they are considered “modern” this may be because they are semi-embracing singledom. While “frum” singles do not embrace it, they hang their heads in sorrow and succumb to squeaking old yiddisher mamalas hounding them about their grandchildren being perfect matches for them- they also tend to live at home and hone up on their cooking skills and holding baby skills.
Why doesn’t the frum world actually want singles to meet each other?
It seems that for all the attention placed on the impending singles crisis- we do not do enough to facilitate the meeting of singles. For instance at weddings- why cant there be a section for singles to mingle- hey that rhymes, how about some random round robin seating at weddings. There is always a smorgasbord of good looking chicks dressed to the tee. Why is it the only way I get to see the girls at a wedding is when they are dancing the hora, and even then I have to sneak into the women’s section or peer through cracks in the mechitza, they should at least have those peepholes that look through kind of like at construction sites.
In conclusion Shadchunim rock. And singles scenes rock, even though the singles themselves actually suck some 90 degree, 80%humidity, hairy ass enclosed in spandex, while running down the bridle path in central park.