S hidduch 238

Name: Suri Miller

Number of Dates: 2

Who Said No: Me

Why: Hard to talk to a girl with the conversational skills of a potted plant

Notes: Why do I keep believing the shadchanim who say I can’t tell anything from a first date? A second date following a lousy first date is always even lousier than the first

I started my Dud Dates Database (a.k.a. DDD) back at shidduch 22 — or maybe it was 23. That was right after some shadchan redt me to a Miriam Goldstein. Dad made a call or two to make sure she wasn’t an alien — Mom was already post-stroke and out of the picture — and I said yes. Two hours later, a livid shadchan called back, asking why I was making a laughingstock of her, agreeing to date a girl I’d nixed just a few months before.

Three things happened after that. Devora announced she was taking over my shidduch inquiries; I started the DDD; and that shadchan never redt me another shidduch again. Which is totally fine, because there are more than enough shadchanim, and I don’t mind being on the hit list of one of them.

Okay, by now I’m probably on the hit list of at least a dozen. But there’ll always be another amateur matchmaker thrilled to have the name of a sane, healthy, reasonably intelligent, reasonably good-looking, frum 34-year-old guy. The names keep coming, and DDD keeps growing.

Shidduch 241

Name: Sima Spiegel

Number of Dates: 6

Who Said No: me

Why: She thinks marriage means you’re chained to each other for life

Notes: Started out promising. What a pity they all want an enmeshed relationship

“Hey, want to come for supper?” Devora asked as soon as I picked up. “I’m making pepper steak.”

“Things are kind of busy at the office.”

Devora all but snorted. “Things are always busy. When’s the last time you had a homemade supper?”

She had a point. Although my sister wasn’t really interested in feeding me, she wanted to grill me.

Any time I got past date three, Devora had to do an autopsy when the shidduch fell apart. After all the time she put into researching the endless stream of girls, I couldn’t really refuse — even if it was futile.

When I arrived, Devora was on the phone. “This is not what we ordered, and the quality of the hair is completely unacceptable.” Her voice was very low. “I was told you’re a supplier I can count on. If this is what I get in my first order…”

A long pause. Then, “I thought we could work something out.” Suddenly she was all sweetness and charm. They must have been falling over themselves to pacify her. It’s not worth your while to mess with Devora.

Rafi walked in a moment later, and we sat down to eat. The question came almost as soon as I took my first bite. “So, what was the problem with Sima Spiegel?” Devora asked, nearly managing a casual, I-just-thought-of-this-now voice.

“Not for me,” I said through a mouthful of rice.

“Why not?”

“Too needy.”

“Too needy?! This is the third time you’ve used that excuse in six months. What does ‘too needy’ mean? Don’t you want to be needed?”

“Look, needed means we both give to each other. Needy means she clings, and wants my reassurance and my input and my opinion and more and more and more. That’s not for me. Find me an independent girl who can live her own life.”

“Sima’s been single for ten years, living in her own apartment for eight, and has a very good job. Sounds plenty independent to me,” Devora said sharply.

I realized I’m never going to be able to explain to Devora how choked I felt when, with each consecutive date, Sima started sharing more, wanting my sympathy and solutions. Eventually, I felt drowned by all that neediness — leave me alone, I felt like screaming. She didn’t, so I left her alone instead.

Devora gave me a long look. “Akiva,” she said, “no matter who you marry, they’ll want you and need you. That’s what marriage is about, becoming a giver, bringing—”

I help up my hand, “Devora, hold the speech for sheva brachos.”

“At the rate you’re going, there never will be a sheva brachos,” she muttered.

“So, how’s business doing?” Rafi broke in. He hates conflict.

“Been better, the competition’s been undercutting us badly,” I told him, “but don’t worry. I have a plan…”

Shidduch 252

Name: Rivka Lowy

Number of Dates: 1

Who Said No: me

Why: She’s vegan. And wants to save the world

Notes: Interesting that the people who want to save the world are always unemployed

“I will kill you. With my bare hands.”

“And hello to you too, Devora,” I said. “That opening line is not quite as civil as a greeting, but it’s quite arresting.”

“Don’t,” she hissed. “Don’t even try your suave act. Nothing you say will get me to forgive you. Why?” her voice was climbing in pitch and volume. “Why do I devote hours and hours of my life to your shidduchim, when you actively try to make yourself the least desirable bachelor alive?”

It took me a minute to figure out what had triggered this fit.

“Ah, so you don’t like my latest business plan?” I said. “I thought it was quite brilliant. Fills a crucial need in the market.”

“I’m not judging it from an economic perspective,” she said through clenched teeth. “But as a sister who loves you and thought you actually wanted to get married, have a wife, children — all that nice, normal stuff that the majority of people want. Clearly, I was mistaken.”

“Devora, relax. The name is just a marketing scheme. And we’re not going to use the full name. We’ll go by WNW. The letters are the perfect shape for a classy logo.”

Devora ignored these details and plowed on. “Did you learn nothing at all about females after dating 257 of them? How many women do you think will want to date a guy who runs a business with the name ‘Who Needs Women?’ What are you thinking?”

I dropped into the La-Z-Boy, stretched out my legs. “So glad you asked. Here’s the idea. There’s a big market here in New York, hundreds of older single guys — never married, divorced, even widowed. And all day, every day, we get the message that we can’t possibly live a happy life unless we’re married. Sometimes the message is spoken outright by the idiots who can’t keep their thoughts to themselves. But most of the time, we just hit up against it.

“You get home at seven, after a crazy day in the office, and you just want homemade supper, no pizza, no takeout. Real food someone made just the way you like it. Or it’s seven in the morning and you realize you don’t have a single clean shirt ’cuz they were never taken to the cleaners. Or it can even be something more unusual.” I was warming to the topic, speaking with the same passion I’d used with the team in the conference room last week.

“Maybe it’s your mother’s birthday and you buy the present your sister tells you she’ll like”—I ignored the indelicate sound on the other end—“but you have no idea what to write on the card. See, all of these are situations in which you think to yourself, ‘Gosh, I really need a wife.’ And those are the situations I’m here to solve!”

“How, exactly?”

I smiled broadly. “I’m going to provide all the goods and services men would usually get from a wife. We have a whole team — men only, I’m not a hypocrite — who will cook chicken soup, pick up prescriptions, even compose birthday poems.”

It was very, very quiet on the other end. I stopped pacing, stood at the window looking out at the city lights glinting against the inky night.

“Devora? Did we get cut off?”

“I’m on the line,” she finally whispered. “Tell me, is that really what you think? Honestly? Is this why you want a wife — to do your errands and keep you fed and clothed? As though you’re some overgrown toddler? Are you looking for a service provider?” Her voice was dangerously low. “Is this what you think marriage is?”

I was silent for a moment too long. When she spoke again, Devora sounded profoundly sad. “If that’s really what you think having a wife is all about, I can’t help you get married. Use your own service for whatever you need. Have a nice life.” And then there was a click. (Excerpted from Calligraphy, Pesach 5777-2017)