I had a great seat with a good view of the entire shull as well as a peripheral “trying not to be too obvious I am staring at you” view, to the other side of the rather low mechitza. Actually besides the legs of the ladies that would soon be shuffling in, the view was quite good, the glass was clear and polished allowing non-reflective views as well as providing a slight glare so as to avoid direct eye contact with potential victims of the piercing stare of hungry singles who are waiting patiently to devour the meat that lay across the barren wasteland of empty seats that led to the golden rows of luscious ladies.
I think that the high point of any singles shabbaton is when there is still that flicker of hope, the hope that the women will be good looking and the hope that one of the good looking ones will actually give you the time of day. That hope is at its peak during kabalas shabbos on Friday night, at that moment only the most gorgeous and usually frummest girls are in the shull. They stand huddled on the side, burying their faces in their siddurs as we men try to be cool and not oogle, but also try to catch some eyes or maybe even a nod.
The second before all the women walk in to the shull from their schmoozings going on outside- usually just one big reunion of the singles shabbaton groupies who know each other by face and talk about the same people they know every time they see them. These women walk into shull usually around the end of maariv and then two things happen. All the men and women equally become slobbering dogs on the inside and “supposedly mentches” on the outside. Carefully choosing their style of stare or look, do they want to just show how comfy they are in their own skin and just do a direct stare? Or maybe they are shy and do the “I think I’ll pretend I am yawning or cracking my neck” stare? Maybe they opt for the “holier then thou” stare, pretending to shuckel like a madman and with every sway of the side to side they narrow down their playing field automatically reducing all the fine young ladies on the other side of the wall to mere pieces of meat or chicken ripe and ready for the weighing in order to bring home and throw on the cutting board.
I opted for the “half asleep, leaned all the way back contemplating life, the ceiling and marveling at the amazing sounlessness of the shull pews folding mechanism”, One arm stretched all the way out into my almost empty bench and the other bent and cradling my head, with my feet folded and my eyes drooping I casually glanced over at what was to be the playing field for the weekend. Many questions and observations popped into mind, most importantly the looks- way hotter then last shabbaton was my immediate decision. Of course through my travels I have discovered that the mechitza makes everyone look better who sits behind it. First of all you can never just stare, unless you are one of those old men who are on the board and get to look over the mechitza and discuss what the presidents announcements will be with some random lady. Another factor in the mechitza making women look good is that the proximity to the actual specimens, tends to be farther then, say, a conservative shull. I also think the sheer pleasure of looking at something behind a glass encasement is like going to a candy store and wanting the fudge because it is always in some fancy case, also the thought that looking over is not so kosher, kind of like voyeurism in a way- makes the ladies so much more attractive.
Of course then you get into the mix of things and realize your hopes were crushed and they aren’t a bunch of supermodels, but then the fun kicks in. My stomach blocks all the nasty thoughts I have about my fellow shabbatonees and I focus solely on the task at steak. Findi9ng the place I am eating and gathering up the folks I am dining with. Small talk can wait for the meal, but now we need to go- I hate waiting around- we have all weekend to eye each other and all weekend to debate whether we would give them out numbers.
It took a little haggling but finally all of us guys and gals were rounded up and we followed a cute round man wearing a hat to his house. A talkative an interesting fellow I may say with a rather loud son who immediately took a liking to me. I wondered what kind of food they would have, I decided that it would be traditional and yeshivish- but that means nothing since that can go either way. Then again I was in the town that created The Kosher Palate cookbook that graces the kitchens of good cooks everywhere and if such fine food originated in this town, then surely the authors talents must have rubbed off on the other community members, plus this wasn’t a poor town either. This was the type of place where folks could afford to buy brand names orange juice and luxuries like sun dried tomatoes and terra chips, maybe it would be good after all I convinced myself. My stomach had been growling since the last food I had eaten at 3, and it was not enough to cover all the wear and tear I did on myself for two hours in my kayak afterwards, and it was nearly 8:30 at night now.
Just like the last shabbaton I went to I was not expecting to meet any suitable matches for myself. I had already predicted that conversation would center around shoes, makeup, Jewish Geography, shidduch nightmares and maybe some slight intellect about familiar neighborhoods where folks were from. I am not saying this to be negative, I simply already knew this was going to be the case, if not for my blogging habit I may not have even attended at all- but knowing that you will have some great material and a decent time reveling in the boringness of New Yorkers I decided it couldn’t hurt, I do like talking anyway and for $25 it wasn’t too bad.
The chrain choices brought a frown to my face and knowing that my mind told me not to ask for some mayo or some other choices I threw some mildly sweet redish maroon shrain on my piece of fish, I could see the red dye making its way to my plate in the and making viens in the small piece of fish, by the time I plucked off my first piece my fish looked as though it had just been ruthlessly murdered and now sat in its own blood and urine. I dolloped some humus on the side and went to work, scarfing down this amazing, warm whole wheat challah that when mixed with the dying fish’s fluids and humus really hit the spot. The dole lettuce salad had hearts of palm in it and the dressing was creamy and delicious. I loaded up and as always was the last person standing, as my fellow table mates dropped like flies. I scoffed at those puny New Yorkers who are spoiled with multiple places to eat and food in every grocery store, they stood no chance to my out of town lack of kosher food self.
The conversation flowed like water off the Hoover dam and was about as interesting as those late at night infomercials with Chuck Norris and his Bowflex. Talk centered around Brooklyn and the landmarks that everyone lived near and this usually pervades the conversation in general. To me there is only so much dumb conversation I can take, but whenever I try something different people think I am nuts. I actually always say I am going to be normal, try to not be myself, maybe pretend that I enjoy talking about people I know in Queens College, about TV shows and maybe throw in some great story about Israel and shawarma. Its so hard though and I always fail, my true self comes out and either people love it or hate it, there is no in between.
I always try and steer the conversation towards the unique aspects of someone. I mean, why would I want to talk to this girl over the next, so I figure I will ask them a question like- what do you do for fun? Or what are your hobbies? Or what do type of music do you like? For some reason of another girls like to self deprecate themselves and tell me that they do nothing interesting. What the hell does that mean? It happened several times actually that I asked:
What do you do for fun?
“Nothing really, I work the whole time and when I am not working, I am sleeping”
So you never do anything?
I am not making this up either, do people not have interests, what actually drives people. Shouldn’t people have some passion. I did notice that many people these days are addicted to their cell phones- is that passion. Is hanging out with friends and family a hobby? Its nice and great I love to as well, but an interest is not something of the sort. If they say children- many of them do- that’s a passion.
The Jewish Geography at shabbatons is also interesting to note because most of the time it does not flow. Like at my table there was a kid who’s sister went to University of Maryland, and a girl across from him went to Silver Springs for high school. This is what a call a desperate not thought out attempt at the crappiest type of Jewish Geography. Similar states, but not the same town and not the same age always create conflict and never work. The other problem with Jewish Geography is that it is like Timothy Leary- always trying to stay high, but inevitably going down and ending. You know what happens after a great Jewish Geography conversation ends? Awkward silence, shifting legs, crunching ice and a wave of the hand to an imaginary friend pretending to call you away from your terrible situation. Is the low that JG creates worth the 3 minutes of hyper fluid conversation that resembles oral diarrhea?
The oneg was pretty nice until the point where we sat around circle for the ice breaker and I realized that the hottest girl in the room was my ex-fiance’s best friend. Talk about awkward eh, I guess there is a certain point when everyone over a certain age and single has to relish in each others company.
I thought the ice breaker was great, while most people thought it was stupid. We all sat around in a circle, went around the room and introduced ourselves with our name, age and location- kind of like A/S/L and then we had to name our favorite place that we went on vacation to and it couldn’t be Israel.
So based on peoples favorite vacation spots I and everyone else in the room judged each other. I think it’s a great ice breaker- because for instance I was instantly interested in people that said places that sparked my interest. There were exactly two that sparked my interest. One said Yellowstone and the other said Yosemite, I ended up waking up to Yosemite who ended up not being anything like I judged- shows the stupidity in judging eh. It as family trip back in the day, so she wasn’t a tree hugger or anything and was quite the boring non-passioned type. Most people said Florida, Bahamas, Puerto Rico. Furthermore you can judge these locations for hashkafic purposes, someone who is yeshiva type will probably not go to the Bahamas for tznius purposes.
The shabbaton I went to was a totally different crowd, I would not like to- but all I can say is the older crowd seemed more desperate and burnt out. Some of the same guys were on this one, but with the younger more vivacious ladies who are new to the shidduch field it was much more warm and happy. People didn’t walk around alone trying to latch onto to conversations and equal amounts of men and women stood with each other.
The one thing that this shabbaton did have, which would have been bothersome if I was actually interested in anyone was Cock Blocking, instead of having a bunch of nerdy loner types hovering near by trying to be noticed, there were a lot of extroverted semi-pimping wannabes.
Let me preface this, 99% of the men on shabbatons do not have one iota of pimp to their name- but at this shabbaton they tried and they were able to implement the ancient art of cock blocking whenever they saw a chance. Here’s the situation: you are having a great one on one conversation with some fine looking piece of kishke and everything is going well, you think the deal will be closed and you may be one of the few people that leave with a date, and then your newly acquainted buddy usually your roommate from the shabbaton will latch onto the conversation creating a perfect block of the cock. You of course are furious and try and give this seemingly clueless guy a hint as to the terrible mistake he has just made. The girl does not realize what is going on or they are enjoying the unspoken fight of wits that is about to happen. The quickest way is to suggest taking a walk- a very bold move at a shabbaton that could either elevate your desperate single status to shabbaton pimp or will crush you beneath the heel of your honey as she says “no I think I’ll hang out here.” I noticed a lot of cock blocking this weekend and was cock blocked myself a couple times- I don’t mind that much since I wasn’t trying to mack it.
Shabbatons are like group dates where everyone sees the whole package, not just how you act for three hours at starbucks. For instance one of the biggest factors in dating are similar hashkafos, which means that each person on the shabbaton will be judged for little things like failing to stand up during kadesh, talking during davening or walking out during the speech. The girls see all these little things, since the ladies tend to be more strict in general, or at least give that impression. The women and men at these things are always on the prowl so theoretically in order to set yourself apart you may have to do things differently. Maybe you want to portray a more serious and emotional side by doing the side to side fists pounding the air shuckel. Or maybe you want to bury your face in the siddur and cry, maybe you want to be the more modern type and choose a moderate pace with casual stares across the mechitza during each full shuckel.
Speaking of showing off or portraying different sides, at my Friday night meal the person who led benching picked a way of starting out the benching that I myself have never experienced. The guy did the YU toned Rabosy Nivurech, but he threw in both a baal haboyis and Harav- which were the same person, and then as if he was throwing a curve ball he added v’es ishto- (and his wife) WTF, as I am sure the other folks including the Rabbi was thinking. After all this was a YU boy not someone in YCT or JTS. Maybe he was silently saying to the 3 rather frum girls at the table that he kicks it MOdox style and doesn’t flow with the bais yaakov crowd?
Even I wanted to show off a little to this cute though not my type girl who I had been chatting with. She was one of those extroverted yet pensive types kind of like myself. We do good in crowds but sometimes look uncomfortable even though we are just taking in the scene and contemplating it in our heads. So I was at my lunch meal and didn’t want to be branded as the regular MO guy with the colored shirt, so when I noticed that the family did not bust out the mayim achronim I quickly poured some seltzer into my cup and made sure the ladies saw as I busted out a ghetto seltzer achronim. Afterward the cute frummy girl said she was very impressed and didn’t expect it. I guess we are all fakers in some way eh.
As the shabbaton progressed couples eventually break away and when they are standing a certain distance off from the crew they reduce the risk of being cock blocked. Some folks try to get it this way but can’t work it, my roommate fro the program a really nice and interesting dude who drove a mustang was telling me of one girl who he was trying to pimp it to. As he was 30 and much more mature then I am, he didn’t exactly use those words, but he just kept hitting on this girl and then she would leave and not come back. I think a lot of times what happens is that since it is not a date people feel that an awkward silence is the last thing they came here for, so when they feel the ebbing of the conversation they tend to suddenly notice a friend and have some secret sign that brings the friend over who says “oh you have talk to this guy” or “I have to talk to you alone”, I have noticed the awkward games people play in order to escape dead end conversations with people they tried to avoid in the first place.
Actually at the ice breaker a kid from Baltimore walks up to me immediately afterwards and says asks me all excitedly if I am indeed Frum Satire. This kid and his buddy turned out to be the most pimpinest dudes there. The blog fan got to pimp it to this mad cuttie that looked like she was pretty tuff to break, and the other dude was mackin it to the event organizer. They told me it was because out of towners have some sort of special power, although some kids from Toronto that I actually knew from 7 years ago didn’t have the same kind of luck.
The best thing about high school girls is that no matter how old I get they stay the same age. This line was said to me at least 5 times in the course of the Kiddush after shabbos day davening. This was because the high school girls present in this shull were way hotter then any of the girls on the shabbaton, and many of the guys realized this and kept saying this line. Sickos, maybe, but I caught myself trying to figure out how old the high school girls were and if in fact any of them were part of the shabbaton. You could instantly tell that the younger the girl the more slutty they were plain and simple. And since almost every girl had changed their clothing from last night you couldn’t really tell who was who anyway.
Actually I think one of the reasons girls come to shabbatons, besides to tell shidduch nightmares and hope for some hot guy to sweep them off their feet, is so that they can change clothes 3 or 4 times throughout the weekend. Actually there were some girls that changed at least 5 times on Saturday, there was shachris, lunch, afternoon activity, shalosh suedos and melave malka- only one girl- this mad weird, nerdy and cool hippie chick did not change once during the whole affair- my kind of women.
I think the men come to shabbatons because $25 is cheaper then most dates and this way they get to go on 24 dates pretty much. I personally wish dates could all be 30 minutes long, 3 hours is way too much time for most dates. So shabbatons are perfect I don’t have to pay for them and get to have a bunch of quick short dates. Actually one of the round table discussions I started with a bunch of girls was why I do not like paying for girls on dates. To my surprise most of the girls agreed, though they may have just been their way of coming on to me.
I have never before met a women who would not reveal her age to me, but at this event there were quite a few. I find that it is mostly the girls who are between the ages of 27 and 30, these girls also tend to look much younger. I guess I always read about this in doctors office copies of Cosmo and Redbook- but never actually believed that someone would be embarrassed of their age until I met a girl on the shabbaton who said shrugged when I asked her how old she was, I then got into a philosophical argument on why she was essentially a dumb ass. She was a great looking and very boring girl, I wondered why she cared that she was the old age of 27. If the guy is shallow and cares so much about age why would you want to ate him anyway. I didn’t even care how old she was- I never care- but at these events where the majority of people cannot carry on a conversation about anything besides work, clothing and Jewish Geography I have to play their game. I did try to ask her what she did for fun- but that went nowhere- like it’s a horrible question or something. I guess people do not have fun anymore.
The “agree with everything guys” are the most fun to watch but also most annoying. There is always some girl who’s hot that everyone wants to be around, and she always has her yes-men. Kind of like the folks who work for Dubya, these guys tend to follow the girl around and always agree with her. I saw this phenomenon quite a bit as if guys felt that if they were to fake it and agree with what she said, she would like them better. In my world it’s called Whipped.
I noticed something else that I have been contemplating recently. Singles seem to be all melded into one hashkafic group on these events. It seems as if the folks who would normally wear a hat take them off and the girls who normally would never talk to a girl are very comfortable. It seems as if everyone melds into this big blob of modern orthodox machmir once they are single at a certain age. One hottie who I was eying- didn’t like her at all, but we men still like to eye em’. So this girl was known to want a guy who is more black hat, yet she was wearing pretty tight clothing that provided good shots of her panties when she sat down- this was not just my commentary by the way. I guess I could not understand how a guy with more yeshivish hashkafa would want a girl in shorter skirts and tighter outfits- oh and gasp open toe shoes. Then you had this torah vodas hocker dude- who obviously wore hats normally based on his inability to keep his yarmulke in the right place. Even I did something abnormal, I rarely wear suites on shabbos when it is over 80 degrees out, in fact I was sweating right through my shirt on multiple occasions. The first night is first impressions, but when shabbos afternoon rolled around and it was 85 and humid I threw on a pair of khakis and sandals, while most of the other guys looked like sweaty wall street brokers after a long day at work.
Shalosh suedos was actually very good featuring C&C music factories brand name soda. I would doubt that old tuna and pasta salad would make you go hmm… but nevertheless the soda had fizz and the rolls were extremely good. The speaker was one of my lunch mates and being that he was Egyptian I didn’t understand one word he said.
The melava malka was really late and I felt overtired and drunk with sleep deprivation, no shabbos nap for me. If I would have walked in on the party if that’s what you will call it and didn’t know what it was, I would have thought it was a frum frat party. Different groups sat on beach chairs drinking from those big red frat party cups, the lack of a keg would have put the party as a straight edger frummy party. No drugs, tznius women and very quiet conversation quickly revealed that it was in fact a gay frum party without half naked women and beer pong. The pizza although rubbery was addictive and I was taking it down, maybe because it was free eh.
The end is always the most interesting since it is the time where we men must grow balls and ask women out. You can see nervous people scattered about wondering if it’s the right time to go in for the kill. It is also the time when you realize that the whole weekend spent talking to some girl was a waste because now she is avoiding the inevitable number asking ceremony. I in fact was asked out by a girl, I felt like I was back in high school, some girl comes up to me as her and her friends were leaving and asks if I was interested in a girl that I ate dinner with, I wasn’t, in fact I didn’t even talk to the girl the whole time which was interesting, though I did feel very flattered and ego boosted. The biggest ego boost for me is when a gay man asks me out, nope, never happened.
I saw phones being fooled around with and people finally having the chance to check all their missed calls, ah the phone addicts. I hate cell phones, especially when people are constantly playing with them. I saw some high fives and bro hugs between guys who had conquered the mountain of singledom by garnering yet another chance to buy some I random girl a dinner at Le Merais. I saw girls pointing at their potential suitors, faces either showing happiness or mouths grinning in disgust. I left with one number of a girl who I was not going to date, but was a storyteller in some children’s library- she was a weird and eccentric and very happy girl, I also wanted to see her read stories- I love when folks read stories. She even told me a story she had memorized and it was about a shark in a park.
I always leave this things the same, I slip into the hole of slight depression at realizing that for me it is way harder to find even one person whom I can relate to. There were a few potential similarities between me and several people. But there was not one person whom I would date or even hang out with, I think the people who have a similar lifestyle to mine seek other routes and I would too if not for the blog. I guess it may be pathetic that I go to Jewish events now more excitedly because I have a blog. The shull experience is heightened as is the exposure to frummies and other Jewish sects.
By the way I had awesome time and am great full to all the families that opened their homes to us with awesome food and great conversation. The faily I stayed by were fellow tree huggers who were actually my type folks having spent much time in the Canadian Rockies and other points out west.