Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Rip Van Winkle at the Singles Shabbaton

Attended a Singles Shabbaton recently. Big mistake. I should have known how bad it would be. When I called the organizer to register, she said "Wow, you sound MUCH more normal than everybody else".

I hadn't realized how normal I am, by comparison to most people in or near my demographic cohort (say, late 30s to early 50s) who are divorced or never been married. That's not my arrogance, it's what I'm told by many others.

One solipsistic guy at the Shabbaton, whom I nicknamed Rip Van Winkle, took a nap during the Rabbi's afternoon the shul... laid down on the benches... after he took his shoes off.... showing his dirty socks to the rabbi and the Aron Kodesh. Then he started LOUDLY SNORING while the Rabbi spoke. Classy, eh?

At Shalosh Seudos, I sincerely asked him if he enjoyed his nap. But he didn't seem to be embarrassed about his behavior. I don't think this guy will EVER get married if he behaves as if only his own needs, desire, and preferences matter.

Most of the other folks (more guys than women attended) also seriously lacked some social skills and etiquette. Hate to be a snob about that, by my parents taught me well in those areas, even if it's bourgeois.

At least my host family was lovely, got to know another Orthodox community. The catered shabbaton food was OK. But the women were not all that interesting, and probably better than the guys (see Rip Van Winkle, above).

Most of the women were OK to talk to, though. I got to speak to most of them at least a little bit. Only two interested me at all. One of them didn't respond much to my interest, the other disappeared halfway through the shabbaton and never returned.

One woman there was a former Jdate contact who surprised me by showing up. We had met for coffee in the fall, she wanted to get together again. I had initially demurred because she was one of my "lied about her age and marital status" dates.

But at her request, I agreed to give her another chance. Of course, I called her twice to set up another date, and the ignored both calls.

So after the Shabbaton, I asked her what happened.

It turns out to be the usual: it was too soon after her separation, she admitted that she hadn't been ready to date, and had been too embarassed to tell me the truth.

No matter how many times a separated or recently divorced woman tells me she is ready to date again, she is NOT ready to date ME. She is needing time and other dating/relationship experience after both get and civil divorce.

That's my preference and requirement, not being judgmental. I know what works for me and what doesn't from my substantial experience dating divorced, separated, and recently broken-up people.

I'm sure many guys behave strangely after separation and divorce, too.

But I'm 0-0-2 to use a metaphor of sports records. No wins (marriages), losses (divorces), and two ties (break-ups before marriages that would not have worked). Not a losing record.

But I would like to get at least one win under my belt before my number is retired.


I doubt that I'll attend another Singles Shabbaton. It's too much like the singles events that I've tried before becoming religious. I prefer doing activities where there is a point to being there besides meeting single people; it takes the pressure off.

The Princess and The Park

Update time. Been swamped at work. Summer is the busy season in my industry, so I'm not dating much.

But I did have a lovely date with a lovely woman who has potential. It's been a long time coming; we've known each other for about a year and been dancing around the possibility of dating for some months.

I was very charming on the date, I have to brag. Picked her up for an acoustic music concert (right before the Three Weeks that precede Tisha B'Av).

Had told her we would go to dinner first. We get in my car, and driving towards the concert, I ask her what and where she feels like eating (pretending as if I didn't have a plan). She tries (badly) to act unfazed about my not having a plan.

"I have an idea..." I say.

"You got a brainstorm?" she nervously asks.

"Ehhh. Something like that." I casually reply.

So I drive to a beautiful waterfront park that I like, near the concert. We get out of the car, I pop open the trunk and pull out a cornucopia of delights and a big blanket.

"A picnic?" she asks, obviously surprised. I just smile.

Kosher fish, veggies, dips, crackers and chips, fresh fruit, chilled water (the park doesn't allow alcohol). No bread, so washing and bentching will not be required.

Gorgeous sunny weather, park almost empty, wonderful long chat, flirting during the wonderful concert. I surprised her, made her smile, treated her like a princess as every woman enjoys.

We'll see each other again. The situation is complicated for reasons I can't discuss (don't worry folks, she has both get and civil divorce). But for the first time since I became frum, I'm looking forward to a second date.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Seeking An Honest Woman

Another Jdate woman. Another (iced) coffee for first date. And another lie about marital status.

As has happened 4 times now in the last year, a woman contacts me, online profile says "divorced".  She confesses on or before first date, "... I have a get but not a civil divorce.".

I'm tired of giving points for 'fessing up on first dates. When I ask as gently as possible why the mis-information, I get no coherent response. It's either insecurity about starting to date again after end of a marriage, or revenge dating, or they think separation means they are immediately ready to date again.

Sorry, I will not be the rebound guy. I will not be the "just dating for fun" target. I've always been happy to spend time alone if there was nobody special in my life.

I've turned down multiple fix-ups recently because the marital status was not "free and clear". I don't need to get married tomorrow (though I wouldn't turn down the right woman who proposes to me).

But a suitable date for me needs to be honest with herself before she can be honest with me.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Back Online And Living In The Moment

Back and better than ever!

Had a break from blogging while I got ramped up in my new job, been about six weeks, longer than anticipated, since I blogged.

My cynicism and sarcasm are ameliorating. I've had some down time and some mild dating success that have renewed my optimism. HaShem has reminded me to be grateful for the little moments as well as the big blessings... I'm living in the moment much more now.

You see, since Simchat Torah, I've been working hard on my kavanah, my learning, and my dating. Working *too hard* at it. I've put too much pressure on myself, gotten frustrated with lack of substantial progress, and been dismayed by some thoughtless shidduch attempts by well-meaning people. As a result, I forgot how to live in the moment. I've been thinking *way* too much about the future and about being a demographic anomaly (single and childless) in my community, and not enjoying the present. But that's changing.

I now realize that the last year has been harder on me than I had previously thought. I had been taking the "I'm a man, I can hack it, don't need help" attitude.

I think I was (to use the vernacular) close to cracking. For the first time since I went frum, I was beginning to contemplate going off the derech. But a date with a shiksa saved me. Yes, a shiksa.

She wrote to me on Jdate (don't get me started on the non-Jews on Jdate), she understood my religious situation and still wanted to meet. So we met for a drink. I left my kippah in the car. And I had a great time. No harm done, but I had a lovely conversation with very pretty, intelligent, and fun woman and it was GREAT to have a woman actually flirt with me for the first time in a long time, instead of sizing me up as a suitable zvug.

In her company, I lived "in the moment", not worrying about religion, marital status, future dates, potential children. It was a reminder to enjoy living in the moment, even if it wasn't productive with respect to my long term goals.


Then I made a visit to Dougie's BBQ in Teaneck. As I approached the place, whom do I see coming out the door with a take-out bag? The gal from Premature Resurrection. I put her aside a month ago because she has just too many issues, but I was tempted to say "hi" even though she didn't recognize me. She looked very unhappy and in a hurry. But spotting her before she spotted me gave me a laugh (out of earshot) and a smile that lasted the rest of the day. I was living in the moment, instead of in my own head.

Living in one's own head can be a problem for singles who have been alone a long time. We rarely have a choice; with nobody to talk to, to confide in, or to give us what we need or want, we often have (unproductive and unpleasant) conversations with ourselves.


I also had a very nice date with a machmir girl who is very sweet and smart. And prettier than the "average looking" that I had been told by the shadchun (maybe I am a fool for not asking for pictures ahead of time?). Another pleasant surprise. More living in the moment, will worry about a next date (or not) when I call her to wish her a good shabbos.


It's good to be back online, good to be moving forward even without plans, and good to be living in the moment (it's much more enjoyable than worrying about things I can't control). I think that I'm finally beginning to accept that HaShem's plan for me might turn out to be good, even if it's not what I wanted long ago or even recently.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Women With Phone Problems

Sorry for the delayed output recently. New job is going well, which means I'm very busy. Another week or two and I hope to return to more frequent blog posts.


So, what's the deal with women and voice mail?

Women whom I phone socially seem to have problems using phones and voice mail. Specifically, they can't seem to retrieve messages and/or return calls.

I have lost track of the number of times over the years that I have left multiple voice mails for women and not gotten called back. When I ask (in person) weeks or even a month later if they got my voice mail, the answer is invariably, "No".

Typically: 15 years ago, I met "Ann" at a shabbos dinner hosted by a mutual friend. After shabbos, the host called me and said "Ann thought you were very nice and said I could give you her number if you wanted it".

So I called Ann. No answer, left a voice mail. After a week without a call back, I called again. Again, no answer. Again, I left a voice mail. Never heard back from her. Five months later, I bump into the host of the shabbos dinner who said that Ann had recently asked why I never called her.

Go figure. This woman was a brilliant engineer, no kidding. And she couldn't use a phone and voice mail properly.

This has happened MANY times over the years.

In the last 12 months alone, three women have also failed to return my calls after I left multiple messages for each, separated by at least a week between each message. I was eventually able to make contact in-person with all three. I asked all three if they had gotten my (multiple) messages. No for all three.

All of these women who can't seem to use voice mail and telephones in general are professionals. All responsible, successful. I bet they dare not fail to return calls for work. So why the technological challenge in their social lives?

Is this a manifestation of The Rules that make men chase and make women "unavailable"? Or do women put their technological skills in stand-by mode after 5pm?

Opinions, please?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Homeless Jew

Been offline for a few days because of workload.

Israel Memorial and Independence day celebrations were moving and inspirational for me. Hope yours were same.


Homeless man showed up at minyan yesterday. Asked for food and money. We all gave him money and kosher food from the shul kitchen.

He borrowed tefillin and he davened!

A homeless fellow Yid. Broke my heart.

I gave him and his one bag a ride to the JCC so he could shower at the gym. He was grateful and I wished him luck.

I hope he can get where he was going and find a decent job and housing.

We must not forget the unique needs of fellow Jews who are in trouble, needs that non-Jews do not have, the need to fulfill mitzvot.


I have a relative who is homeless. Mentally ill, refuses to take or stay on medication. But very high-functioning. Nobody in the family can do anything for him, except get him a small amount of money when he's in great need. He won't accept any other help and doesn't want to be a burdren to others.

His own immediate family won't have anything to do with him. I can understand their thinking, but when it comes time to take care of his final needs, I will do it. Even before I became religious, I decided that if nobody else in the family would ever attend his funeral, then I would.

He's family, he's a Jew, and someday he will depart this life. I want to provide him some measure of dignity at that time.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friend of Friend

Gut Shabbos!

Got a call this morning from a rabbi who knows me. He got a call asking to provide a reference check on me for a shidduch. The rabbi asked my permission to tell what he knows about me (all that he knows of me is good, of course). We chatted about the shidduch process, too.

The call received by the rabbi catches me by surprise.

It's been months since I gave my information to a friend who had a friend who knew a shadchan (the one who called the rabbi) who "might know somebody" in my area. I'm always grateful for effort on my behalf, but I tend to set my expectations in such a way as to not be disappointed if nothing comes of a kind offer.

I'm slightly skeptical because the shadchan is allegedly trying to evalute me for her sister. Conflict of interest in shidduchim can be problematic. But I'm grateful nonetheless.

Only a good things can come of it. A new friend or perhaps more, or nothing less than the blessings that  I already have been given.

I'm already grateful for the smile left on my face by the rabbi's call.