Saturday, October 27, 2007

Singles "rituals"


If you're an Orthodox Jewish Single, you have probably participated in that rite of passage known as the "Singles Shabbaton". Now, most of us who grew up Orthodox participated in a Shabbaton when they were teenagers or pre-teens. As a teenager or pre-teen, a Shabbaton is an excuse to get away from home (and your annoying kid siblings) for Shabbat. It gives you an excuse to "hang" with your friends. And it gives you a parent sanctioned platform for meeting members of the opposite gender.

As an adult, the excuse to get away part falls out (hey, at a certain point in our lives get away from home is either something we do regularly or something we'd rather not have to do), hanging with our friends sort of falls out (because either our friends are married and won't be to this ritual or we see them often enough without the Shabbaton or both). That leaves you with a community sanctioned platform for meeting member of the opposite gender.

Well, this is the point of the Shabbaton. But it often doesn't work out that way.

What happens at these Shabbatons, at least the ones I've been to, is that a large number of attractive women show up followed by a small number of men, most of whom are not anywhere near as attractive as the average woman. So women like me (that is hardly ravishing beauties, but not all that unattractive) have an awful lot of competition for the few pleasant looking gentlemen.

Lest you think I'm shallow (even though I am to some degree), it's not just that most of the men are unattractive, most of the men (particularly those who are unattractive) are uninteresting. My problem with this is generally that I can't stand silence. So when I talk to a man and he does the "short answer" bit (as in "What do you do for a living?" "I'm a molecular biologist" "Oh, that sounds interesting. What does that mean?" "I look at molecules......") So when I get the short answers too often, I start to fill in the gaps with anecdotes of my own (as in "oh, you look at molecules? That sounds interesting. I've always thought microscopes were interesting. That reminds me of college and my biology class...."). The only thing is, because the most interesting stories I have seem to generally make me sound good (like "the last time I was in NY was for my Jeopardy tryout. Boy, was that a humbling experience. Everyone there had passed the on-line Jeopardy test...." or "I guess one of the accomplishments I'm proudest of is that one of my tutoring students was valedictorian of the class") so it sounds like I'm one of those people who endlessly goes on and on and on about herself. And I'm not.

It's very hard to be yourself or put on a good front, a good picture (in a snapshot sort of way) of yourself. So you end up with a room of people who are sure they have a snapshot of you. But they don't any more than you have a snapshot of them.

But with me, I'm always willing to find out if perhaps someone who I find attractive (ok, so I am shallow ;-) -- isn't just as nervous in this artificial setting (under artificial lighting) as I am.

So here I am right now on the tail end of this ritual of American Jewish singlehood that anyone who has passed the third decade of life without finding "the one" must pass through. This past one wasn't so bad as these "rituals" go. First of all, this was one of the only times I actually saw some men I found attractive (that's men plural -- I can rarely recall even finding one such man at previous "rituals", but I digress). Second of all, I spoke with a few of them (though one of them spoke to just about every woman who was there and after our initial conversation blew me off -- which is a shame, since he was the best looking guy there and had a very interesting job from my perspective). And third of all, one or two (probably one) might actually get in touch with me in the future.

See the t-shirt design I wore at the Motzei Shabbat program:
Miriam t-shirt

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