Shabbos Walk! Now that’s a term I haven’t heard in ten years, the last time this term was used in a normal sentence I recall sitting on a hard wooden bench swatting mosquitoes and dipping my undershirt into some magic water that made it look like a ghetto tie-die shirt, in Camp Moshava when I was 12 years old and full of hormones. I hadn’t figured out how to release the hormones yet- but we were sitting around talking about shabbos walks. This was closest I would get to getting some until I had my first kiss during my first summer as a high school student. In fact, shabbos walks were my first experience with young boys who talked shit. It was the ripe time for your stories about what you did with the girl behind the rifle range on your shabbos walk while everyone was hanging out on the bunk porch waiting for a glimpse of some of the shabbos walks that most of the kids only hoped they were on. (I bet you uninitiated never knew that we modern orthodox folks start shidduch dating at age 12)
There I was sitting on a comfy leather dinning room chair listening to a Rabbi tell me that we would be going on shabbos walks with other. Now this was an interesting singles event I thought, as I played with the coleslaw in the small plastic bowl in front of me. I looked around for potential shabbos walk material, while the rabbi spoke of how there were shadchanim available for us who were too wimpy to ask a girl out ourselves and risk making ourselves and the girl we were asking uncomfortable for the rest of the weekend. Instead the shadchanim would pull us aside and say in a “constipated middle of shofar blowing sign language-clenched teeth voice” that the girl with the long black hair to our right NO DON’T LOOK SO INTENTLY SHE SEES US- is interested in you.
You would then have approximately 30 seconds to gauge all the pros and cons of spending 30 grueling minutes walking up and down the streets of Monsey on shabbos afternoon with nothing to focus on but the cracks in the asphalt and little kids trying to play basketball without hitting tatis car. Unfortunately for you, the Rabbi in charge was trained as a car salesman and had it all worked out, so that he could get you out the door on a date by saying that he saw the chemistry between you too while you shoved forkfuls of chicken and cashews between a peaceful game of Jewish geography.
So it went, I recalled with horror my first and only shabbos walk experience when I was twelve, I would not ask another girl out so boldly until I was past my prime and in the middle of the 6 year associates degree at some Podunk community college. Her name was Naomi and she was Silver Springs- and I remember facing the tether ball court- sitting on a picnic table and asking her out on a shabbos walk and being rejected. I felt so heartbroken and went off to the woods to hurt anything I could, in this case it was whatever I found under rocks- centipedes, worms whatever- die you mother –f—ckers. I was violent kids back then. I had a bad stuttering problem and no mother- for a twelve year old it was nightmare. Everyone hated me, and I couldn’t speak back- so I fought back.
I flipped forward 14 years and here I was at a singles shabbaton about to be forced into a shabbos walk with someone. Turns out I wasn’t, not one of the 30 girls found me worthy of a half hours worth of laughs and talk of 19th century political philosophers- well their loss. I was having a ball anyway, and the shabbos walks were brought up right before the chorus struck up a jolly shalom aleichim rendition in D-Minor.
I should mention that this was a completely different set up and design then my past two singles shabbatons. The past two were with End the Madness, and put simply they were pretty maddening, it was basically a reunion of the Kew Gardens Hills dating circuit with a couple of Monsey and Upper West Side groupies throw in. Everyone knew each other and everyone just talked Jewish Geography the whole time. Throw in some weird looking dudes, awkward nomadic girls and you have end the madness- complete madness- lots of fun though.
Well this was run by See You on Shabbos- which had to change to Ebashert due to franchise dealings with Saw You At Sinai, figures. So it was run by this brilliant dude Rabbi Klatzco- he asked for a shout out. He works for Aish (see bottom for theories of Aish)- based on the abnormal amount of “way too serious” BT’s I would have been able to figure out sooner or later that it was an Aish affiliated event.
Aish is notorious for their seriousness. The Rabbi himself would have better suited to Ohr Someyach, but Aish is way too serious, I have never met such serious people. For instance I was having a discussion with this one guy about how when someone writes “No” to making aliyah in their frumster profiles- its kind of definitive, I mean how can you say no, what about maybe. Then Mr. way too serious- I threw out all my secular music and burned all my comic books when I became religious BT pipes up and says “but its so pushat, halachically speaking we shouldn’t really be in Israel in the first place” I wanted to shove his head into a brick wall while saying “what are you the flippin Niturei Karta?”
I wasn’t even going to attend the event, it was held in Monsey and it was supposed to rain- so I agreed when one of the shadchanim whom I personally know said they had a shortage of men at the event. Suddenly I had visions of me flanked by beautiful women who were feeding me rugalech at the oneg on Friday night- and I reluctantly agree. Upon entering the house where most of the shabbaton was held- I spotted some decent looking ladies. The beginning of the event is most important, this is like when you are at the shmorg during a wedding and need to scope out the food. Same thing, during davening I made several bathroom breaks and pretended to look at the amazing artwork on the walls- while using my super powers in peripheral vision to check out the crop of ladies milling around the center island in the kitchen.
Seating for Friday night was arranged, based on profiles. I did try and figure out why half of the room got to sit up near the Rabbi on the good chairs, I concluded that all of the folks with colored shirts were on the less comfy chairs, like most colored shirt minorities I always think it’s a white shirt conspiracy against the coloreds- maybe I should wirte to Al Sharpton and tell him he’s not alone.
Surprisingly I wasn’t that hungry. It was a diverse shabbaton, you had some black hats and some guys wearing only sweaters. One thing that shocked me was the amount of skinny girls, such a rarity these days with growing obesity problems. There were several lookers and several cuties- overall a very good crop- I just hope the rice crop is as good so prices can go down for those unfortunates in Laos and Cambodia.
Several guys recognized me which made it way more interesting. Something was wrong however, the conversation at the meals was not centered around who people knew and where people lived. There was substance and maturity, and real conversations- it was insane- it was Mars. BT’s are a different breed I know, they aren’t boxed into their small lives of orthodoxy- they are excited to be religious and have not realized its all one big scam to get you to pump the bug free lettuce economy with new life.
Then all the sudden I had to pick up my plate and choose another seat on a different table. This may sound very simple but for me it was careful calculations. You see- there were several people I did not want to sit across from- yes I am that shallow, the first meal is when you plant your seeds, in the end it was classic farming I waited to long to plant my seeds and wound up on a table next to the shadchun I already knew- it was fun- but not conducive for meeting some ladies.
I watched as everyone else planted and sowed and watered, while I joined the Oakies and headed west through piles of dust. I had missed my crop and this problem would plague me throughout the weekend.
Then the holy grail made of crumbling aluminum arrived, with contrails of steam. Tins of heaping Chinese food of all things began to be placed at an empty table between the four tables. Being the rude and careless schmuck that I am, I was the first to arrive on seen after the small children who were already placing heaping amounts of chicken and beef dishes onto their flimsy gold paper plates that were bound to buckle under the weight. I looked around and saw not a rustle amongst my peers. I felt like I was back in college when everyone would be waiting outside a class and I would go on 15 minutes before anyone dared- and take my place and immediately go to sleep.
I stood and debated if I should take or wait for the others. My growling stomach won out and I began to load up trucker style. Chicken with cashews, lo-main and some beef dishes. I also took some rice while explaining to one of the younger kids that I was only eating it because the price of rice features went up so much that I wanted to feel rich, he just looked at me blankly as I tried to teach him why other grains were going to rise and why ethanol was a dumb idea even in my environmentalist mind. By then the others began to load up, I had the most by far, noodles were dangling precariously from the sides of my plate as I bypassed a section of the line for some duck sauce. The food was way better then it looked by the way- but good nonetheless.
After dinner was a speech, at least it wasn’t about why we are still single- that’s the worst. No this was the Ten Commandments of Relationships, and he basically explained why his marriage was da bomb. My buddy Ely Jaffe who wished honorable mention and who accompanied me to this speech feel asleep- he has loads of confidence, he also works as a Sanitation technician and rises at 4 every morning- there also happened to be another guy there who is a garbage man- what are the odds?
For those of you who know me- it’s hard for me to shut up. I rarely do when I am around large crowds, I always commentary and observations. During the speech I wanted to burst out with “no you didn’t in a gay black voice” every time he said “when you and your partner… I did disagree with one of the commandments which was the banishment of sarcasm. I might as well be dead I wanted to say.
Then we played games, I was hoping for an orgy, but learning about the attendees in a civil manner was all I got. We all sat at one of four tables, across from each other and a shadchan lead the round of questions which we had to answer. I thought it was pretty good idea and the fact the men had to switch tables every few minutes allowed you to meet everyone. Usually there is an oneg and everyone confident or good looking gets to meet people and everyone else is split into a few categories. You have the nerds and loners who wander around looking like dumbasses waiting for someone to come up to them. You have the people who try and join into ongoing conversations by hanging out near the group of people talking, and then you have the people who pretend they are oblivious to what’s going on around them while trying to levitate the piece of pineapple in their hands. These games got rid of the awkwardness of meeting someone, and you got to see what people were like.
For instance one of the questions was name 3 hobbies or interests. I love this question because I can see if anyone is of interest to me. For instance if they say my hobbies are shopping, hanging out with friends and the beach- I know they aren’t for me. Or the worst is when you say “what do you do for fun?” I recently asked this is of someone I was talking to on the fun. Her answer was the code red defcon 4 answer which makes me hang up- I HAVE NO TIME FOR FUN. So how on earth are you going to have time for a husband? Or why don’t you commit suicide then? Usually I am nice and say- if you did have time for fun what would you do. This particular phone girl I speak of said she would go to movies. I hit the buzzer similar to Mr. Burns that made her fall through a chute out to the dump.
One of the questions was “I like when my date does blank” Guess what I answered? That’s right, I like when my date pays- always trying to be funny. In the middle of all the commotion of the games and the laughter the sleuth used car dealer was plucking random people out of the games and pulling them to the side and saying with the classic hand rubbing that Rabbis do- that a girl/guy was interested in taking a shabbos walk with them. What have you got to lose, money back guarantee- then- she could be your bashert! Sold to the man in the white shirt and black hat.
One of the kids staying with me got suckered into this deal. He fell for the sale and ended up worse then the others. He said maybe. He didn’t want to say no- because he didn’t want the girl to know he said no for the whole shabbos- but then again- he didn’t exactly want to go out with her- he was stuck. Unfortunately for frum Jews they cant “Take her for test drive, aint she a beut” like they do to cars- well some of us do, but usually not at shabbatons.
Then we just milled around and everyone schmoozed, I didn’t meet anyone that tickled my fancy or that I actually wanted to be seen walking around the neighborhood with. Don’t get me wrong, there were some fine looking women that had I been less religious would have loved to take for a test drive, but I am 19 anymore and there was no one who made me want to give up a day of muddy biking for.
Shabbos was a little different. The seating was unassigned- so I ended up a table with two kids I knew and the hottest girl at the event- whom I had no interest in at all. Every singles event has to have a hottest girl. At normal singles events this girl is flanked by men and cock blockers trying to enter into ongoing conversations- the hot girl realizes this and does nothing to prevent these events from taking place, rather she relishes in the attention- as would I.
Even at our table we had a cock blocker- he knew the hottie from his Aish Battle days or something and would constantly interrupt one of her conversations with banter about some people they knew from working at Aish- or discuss marketing strategies to make BT’s crazier and more wacko. I was kind of disappointed that the BT’s were so serious- as there were no BT horror stories or awkward moments during their indoctrination. The girls were very aidel.
One of my friends at the event was rumored to have been a Lubavitcher and we all know how Aish feels about the groups that they try and model their tactics after. So This one girl sent a little kid over to ask my friend if he thought the Rebbe was Moshiach- funny but so wrong. I wanted to bring up the whole aish vs. chabad controversy- but the Niturei Karta cock blocker at my table was a little taller then me so I was scared- I could have backed his not living in Israel philosophy to the fact the Chasam Sofer says its fine to believe in someone being Moshaich or something- I am sure the Yechi crowd has some sources as to what differentiates them from Jews for Jesus.
Besides for the singles shabbaton hottie there are a few other characters present at all singles shabbatons. There are the nerds, the large people, the disabled people (don’t they make shabbatons for these people-I always feel so bad for deaf people at regular shabbatons), hot arrogant guys, high maintenance girls who always stand leaning very slyly, the loud people (I am one of them- the rabbi complimented me by saying I always know what’s on peoples minds- but I am the only one willing to say it- for instance he mentioned that new singles were coming to the melave malka- and I said “YESSSSS- TIME FOR SOME FRESH MEAT”
After lunch, I was one of the several people left alone, dateless- thank God. So I left and went to sleep- missed all the other events- because I only wanted fresh meat as of now. The Melave Malka was left over Chinese food that had aged pretty well. The fresh meat was made up of several pretty good looking gals, actually all the fresh meat was in Cow form- in terms of the sex not the looks. Nah it was pretty decent I must say- it’s a shame I knew most of them. Funny because its not even like I am such a singles scene regular yet I already know people.
At the melave malka I realized that I did find someone who had been at the shabbaton cute and wanted to get to know her more. Unfortunately for my loud personality I think I scared her off- I did think her job was super cool though Toy Sales- that is very cool to me- not sex toys you moron- fun toys. Anyway I was sitting next to her during the Badchun- yep a real Badchun (Yiddish standup comedian- he spoke in English) was there performing- I got his contact info. Anyway during the Badchun I said something and she called me a smartass- I love tough women who yell at me, because I can be a stubborn moron sometimes. Then I never spoke to her again- she is lost in my facebook profile somewhere- until she sorts her friends and says “who the hell is frum sattire” oh that guy- delete!
Some notes about the shabbaton: It was run by Ebashert.com and for a first event it was very good. I same not too fond of Aish BT’s- from a personal perspective- they just seem way too serious. Maybe that’s because I went to their rival school Ohr Someyach- and in Ohr Someyach BT’s tend to take a longer time to throw away their secular music and tell everyone else what the halacha is. Please do not take offense if you are Aish affiliated.
I will definitely attend another one- it was cheap and fun and met some interesting people. With that said, the organizers plan on doing one, once every couple of months.
Read about my other singles shabbaton Experiences in these classic posts.
First Singles Shabbaton I ever went to- classic post by the way.