Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Orthodox Singles Scene on the Great Lawn

Sing it with me, kids: "Saturday (ba-doww), in the park, think it was the Fourth of July the Upper West Side..." That's it, no more JACK-FM for me. I've read this article three times now. I'm kind of surprised that the Times covered it, actually. The article doesn't tell you that much about the people at the north end of the Great Lawn (or as one of my friends called it, "shul"). Plus, each time I read it, for some reason, it makes me a little more nauseous. Maybe because the park scene is very 20s, and most of them are already bemoaning their fates as twentysomethings who are "still" alone and getting ready to greet spinsterhood. That's something a thirtysomething like me has precious little tolerance for. But I also remember what that scene is like--it seems like a good place to meet people, but it isn't. Instead, it's a good place to gaze at, judge, and not approach people. Unless you have friends in non-concentric circles which you can somehow manage to cross-pollinate, it's the same people, week after week, and more upsettingly, the same policy of non-engagement, which (logically) leads to no (or at least few) engagements. One friend of mine, in her mid-thirties, recently told me a story of having met someone in the Park one Shabbat afternoon. She and the potential suitor were talking and having a pretty good time, until he asked her age, and she told him. He immediately shut down: "you're probably going to want children soon, and I don't, so it was nice meeting you." All the previous moments meant nothing, it was a merciless "you're too old, game over." Nice, huh?
And this speaks to an essential truth about the scene. Tidbits of gossip often outnumber pick-up lines, in part because if flirting is what you desire, not even a modicum of privacy is to be had. And since religious laws prohibit writing on the Sabbath, it is also impossible to ask a potential date for her telephone number.
Great. Another excuse for men. These days, if you can't remember a seven digit phone number (and believe me, I don't give anyone a hard time for not being able to remember numbers), try an email address. Most people have cutesy handles (talmudboy613) or can be tracked down on the internet. If you are lucky enough to go to the Park or an event, or anywhere else, and meet someone moves you, be creative. Find a way. I don't care how you get there. Just get there.

Monday, August 29, 2005

This Just In: Men Afraid of Singles Events

These are the times that try single men's souls. Which is why, when it comes to singles events, most of them would rather just stay home. This results in a gross imbalance that most women have noticed; there are precious few men in attendance, and lots of women to compete over them. (Of course, the fact that most of the men in attendance probably will be too fearful to make an approach makes the women present feel even less attractive.) The Indianapolis Star reports that "intimidation," "fear of humiliation," and "fear of rejection" are some reasons that men give for not attending singles events. But the number one reason? "Um, I didn't know about it." That's right, good old "lack of information" was the number one reason. But further analysis of the results points to the fact that men aren't so much uninformed as they are insecure.
Joe tells us, "I don't fancy myself a good mixer, so the prospect of being someplace where I know nobody, and where the environment is conspicuous by its grand design for people to mingle, would scare the bejabbers out of me. I admit I have never attended one of these activities, so I speak with a profound sense of ignorance, based largely on nightmarish adolescent experiences attending dances and the like."
So he's basing his knowledge of singles events on his never having attended them, and drawing analogs to his experience as an adolescent. I do love his use of the word "bejabbers." That's adding some local flava, fa shizzle.
Bob explains, "Men do not generally like structured dating situations because they do not like the feeling of being trapped in a place where they have little or no control over their own situation."
Um, dude? Remember that SNL skit where the guy said "I always feel like I'm falling!" And the host of the talk show told him to "Look at yourself. Are you falling?" And sure enough, the guy understood that he wasn't falling. You're not trapped. And you have all the control! You say you'd be flattered if a woman were to show interest, but it is the experience of most online daters that you hate it when women approach you, and you humiliate us the way you're afraid you'll be humiliated. So be a little open-minded, and it'll probably open up your heart, too. Here are the other reasons:
  • Lack of information (17 percent)
  • Single parenting responsibilities (15 percent)
  • Fear of rejection (12 percent)
  • Fear of humiliation (9 percent)
  • Work (8 percent)
  • Shyness (6 percent)
  • Lack of time (6 percent)
  • Not wanting to get involved (3 percent)

I can't wait for the boys to weigh in on this one.

Monday, August 22, 2005

"Heart"y Honesty?

I was reading a JDate profile this morning (I know, kill me now), and the guy wrote: "The heart never lies." Is this true? And if the heart is always telling the truth, then how do we explain moments wherein we follow our hearts, to our own peril, and sometimes to our own ruin? Is the reason we call those moments "lapses in judgment" an attempt to shift blame from heart to head, thereby preserving the sanctity of reputation for said cardiac organ? Re-reading the above, I have to concede that it is entirely possible that I think about things too much.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Cry It Out: A Playlist to Mourn a Lost Romance

From love shattered to romantic hopes dissolved, we always seem to seek out the music. We know that there's a substantial chance that the lyrics or notes so assembled will cause more tears, or evoke sadness that we were repressing. Maybe that's why we go to the music, to help us feel or to help us get past the feeling, to reinforce our shapeless sadness and bind it to emotional reality. Sometimes, it's all about the music. And here's a playlist for crying your way through it. Long December (Counting Crows) Don't Give Up (Peter Gabriel/Kate Bush) Wonderful Tonight (Eric Clapton) Two Steps Behind (Def Leppard) In Your Eyes (Peter Gabriel) Imagine (John Lennon) Torn (Natalie Imbruglia) The First Cut is the Deepest (Sheryl Crow) Behind These Hazel Eyes (Kelly Clarkson) Romeo & Juliet (Indigo Girls) This Woman's Work (Kate Bush) You Will Be Loved (Maroon 5) There's a Fine, Fine Line (Avenue Q) I'll Miss You in a Heartbeat (Def Leppard) Wise Up (Aimee Mann)

"The Man Behind 'Behind Everyman'"

Reaching your 30s, you realize that you are professionally unsatisfied and have dated with no visible results. You write two novels and a memoir, collecting three rejections over four years. In a bookstore, looking for a “funny, quick read for the train,” you notice that such books are geared toward women. That same day, you begin writing to fill that perceived void in the market. Seven weeks and 45,000 words later, your novel is finished. Critics call the book — written in second person with an unnamed narrator — original and inventive. After your book sells, you meet your soul mate. While planning your wedding, you decide to move out to Los Angeles and try to sell the book as a screenplay. In the process, you become not only an established writer but a singles success story. This is the story of composer-turned-novelist and bachelor-turned-newlywed David Israel, author of “Behind Everyman,” “a novel for guys and the women who rescue them” that critics called “high-concept lad lit debut afloat with wry humor, earnest romance and endearingly dopey self-doubt.”
For more of the article, my column in this week's Jewish Week, click here. And madd props to Hilary for introducing me to the book (and the author) to begin with.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Redating, Reusing, Recycling

Ever date someone, know they weren't for you, but thought they were too good to throw away? Did you ever fix them up with a friend, or integrate them into a group of friends, hoping that they'd mingle and mate with one of your nearest and dearest? If you have, JDaters Anonymous wants you to answer these questions for a future article: 1) Who was the person and how did you meet (blind date, online, at a party, through friends)? 2) How many times did you go out with that person before deciding he or she was not for you? 3) Was there mutuality on the lack of romantic chemistry? 4) Did you have someone specific in mind for that person, or did you just think, "anyone but me"? 5) How did you successfully transition from "date" to "friend"? 6) Have you ever "recycled" a former date more than once? Is that date resentful or appreciative? 7) Have any of your instances of recycling resulted in committed relationships? Your reflections on "recycling" welcome, either in the comments section or via email. Feel free to forward to friends for their feedback... Thanks!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Please, Tell Me...

Not that I'm not sympathetic to the plight of the single gal. Clearly I am. But, gentle reader, could you please tell me what the point of this article is? My summary: She's single. She's looking. She's frustrated by online dating. She's still hopeful and still waiting. I hope this story's on tape somewhere, because no one would ever believe it... [Yes, indeed, that's sarcasm.]

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


It's hard to come back from it, the edge of whatever your hope once was, to overcome the impetus that made you lose your footing and dangle from precipices to begin with. Harder still because you put yourself there, in some misguided, self-affirmative step toward individuation. Grimacing through the pain of it all, your mantra: all for the best, all for the best. Words ring empty--if at all--when vocalized, but still, must be repeated for continuity's sake, must be repeated ad infinitum, must be repeated until you start to believe it. You stay active in body and mind, so the totality of you will persevere, past bumps in the road and rough patches and stormy seas and a thousand other cliches. Slowly, you claw your way back, because you want to or because you have to. You seek redefinition of what you'd perceived, and recontextualize yourself within the new construct. Although you've swept them up before, shards of shattered hopes remain, insidious, piercing your bare feet just when you thought you'd found them all. But you're tough. Callused, in protection from renegade vestiges of something you thought was possible. In daily life, you cultivate steeliness, deny your warmth and flexibility. You're still you, craving the clamor of contact, the intensity of perceived or actual intimacy. But it's safer here. There's no room for interpretation in metals and no heartbreak in stone. It's only temporary. You know it is. As if there were an expiration date on sadness. You feel it in the air like pollen, an irritant that heralds the spring thaw. You rotate, earthlike, on your axis, yet not feeling like the world does or should revolve around you. But the motion is constant, and constitutes progress. There are others now, refracting prismatically, sometimes dazzlingly shiny. Shielding your eyes, you wonder if you'll ever see inside, and if the interior is as opulent as the exterior seems. But at least it's something new to look at.

Monday, August 01, 2005

The Week in Dating

What week in dating? I know it's only Monday. But start the week with last Monday if it makes more sense to you. If you've been thinking about calling E-Cyrano to help you with your profile, now's the time to help yourself and me at the same time. First, go here and decide which package is for you. Then, on the “buy” page, you’ll see that they've added an option to “How did you hear about E-Cyrano”, that says “E-Cyrano consultant”. If you do that, the page will refresh and you can type in my first name ("ESTHER"), so I can get “credit” for the referral and the client will be assigned to me. (Tell your friends! Thank you!) First, we'll visit with the regular gals and see what they're up to: Hilary had the blahs before the weekend, but her mood was much improved after a well-deserved few days away. Annabel Lee is up to date #3 with an E who (just to clarify) is not me and whose manners are devolving more and more with every date (unfortunately). That guy who usurped my initial better step up, or I am reporting him to the Committee on "E" Abuse. And Ari strikes again, by giving us just enough to keep us curious, but it seems fairly clear that she both kissed a new boy and saw a celebrity. I think if those things both happened to me on the same night, I'd probably die of shock right there. I haven't linked to the Smitten in a while, because she's become a Bridezilla. Just kidding. She just wants it the way she wants it. But since she met her fiance via the wonderful world of blogging, I thought she was worth including as a role model. Plus, chiquita (and her man, the chico) totally rocked Weight Watchers into oblivion. (If only that kind of success were contagious...) Barefoot Jewess, whose blog I don't visit nearly often enough, muses as to "how Jewish" she needs a life-partner to be. Here's a new blog, found via Superjux, wherein the author reflects on all of her first dates. Even for first dates, my blog on the same topic would be extremely short, and not very interesting. Just like most of my first dates. Over at Jewlicious, Laya posted about JQS Corp, which runs JMatch and is trying to give JDate a run for their money. They have a really cool blog, which features content from Jewlicious (including some posts by yours truly), and now have regular text-based instant chat as well as voice and video chat. Since we're plugging sites here, some of you internet-inclined Jewish daters may also wish to try the free-to-register JSoul, which is run by a friend of mine. Feel free to write them or me with your feedback... And of course, in case you haven't been paying attention (please present palms, as I smack them with a ruler), Dr. Janice relaunched her site. Check her out, sign up for her newsletter etc. After all, as she stated in an earlier comment, she's "here to help!" Have you ever wondered why people can be such jerks when it comes to dating, finally, we have the answer: it's all our celebrities fault. According to this article, our celebrities are pretty poor role models when it comes to relationships. I mean, how often has it happened to us that our boyfriends leave us for Angelina Jolie? And what's their excuse? "Brad Pitt did it..." In the world of this article, Sienna Miller=all that is good and Hillary Clinton and Victoria Beckham=women who accept their husbands' philanderings without standing up for themselves. Well, an interesting theory. You know what else is interesting? The concept of an Israeli version of the Bachelor, but starring an American guy from NYC. Esther at Jewlicious (I always enjoy her writing) shares her impressions of yet another Israeli reality show she'll never get to see, this one starring a guy who looks not entirely unlike David Boreanaz, which is never a bad thing (and shout-out to Jason for that call). And in a note only slightly related to dating, my friend Mark is one of the writers featured in Situation: Comedy, the new Project-Greenlight-style reality series on Bravo where the end product is a sitcom. (How's that related to dating? Last year, Mark, a friend of mine from camp who's been living in LA, married Mindy, another friend of mine who was living in New York. They didn't meet through me, but they could have, which proves a) that long-distance relationships can work if the people want them to, and b) that if everyone hangs out with me enough, you'll probably all end up married.) Watch the show (Tuesdays at 8, I believe), go to his site, leave him messages of support, link to him from your blogs, and tell him Esther sent you... That's all for now. Date well and wisely, and feel free to share the best and the worst with me. Like Dr. Janice, I'm here to help!