In Part 1, I waited a while before dating and then went on a date with “Moshe,” didn’t want to go out with him again, and told my parents when I got home from the date. My mother said she would call the shadchan in the morning.
I was still teaching eighth-grade English at Bais Yaakov of Boro Park, but I had started college in the Spring 2009 semester. In order to do both, I had to wake up at 6 and make the 6:30 train. I would head off to my 8am class, have a fifteen-minute break between classes, finish at 10:45, hop back on the train, drop off my college bag at home and grab my teaching bag, and run off to start teaching at 1pm.
(As I write this now, I realize this means I had already stopped davening shacharis and mincha by this point. I know I didn’t daven on the train…)
So the morning after my first-ever shidduch date, I woke up before anyone else in the house was up and left without talking to anyone. It was a normal day for me. The date hadn’t been especially exciting, it was behind me now, and I had no real feelings about it to process.
I had almost forgotten about it when I began my speed-walk to the train at 10:45, when I saw a missed call from my mother and a text asking me to call her as soon as I was out of class.
“Would you consider giving him a second chance?”
“A second chance at what,” I asked. “It’s not like I think he’s a bad person and has to redeem himself, it’s not like he was boring or nervous or whatever (he was nervous, but that was endearing, not off-putting). He was fine to talk to, I didn’t hate the date, but I cannot imagine marrying him or taking him seriously.”
“The shadchan says he really likes you. Just give him one more date, and if you still think it’s a no, we’ll tell the shadchan then.”
“So you didn’t tell the shadchan I already said no?!”
“I told her you weren’t very excited, but she said that he really likes you. Just give him one more chance.”
“I really don’t want to. I mean, you know I can fangirl about Harry Potter forever, but I’m convinced he has nothing more intelligent to say about it than what he’s already said to me, which is childish – and again, nothing wrong with being childish, but I need someone with at least the capability of turning off the childishness sometimes.”
“Well, maybe you could start a conversation about something else. If you think ‘fangirling’ over Harry Potter is childish, you could change the conversation. And he really likes you! You could just give him another chance.”
I was quiet for a moment. I had reached the train station and stood above-ground so I wouldn’t lose service.
“Fine. Make another date. But I really don’t expect it to be any different.”
Delighted, my mother hung up and I rode the train home lost in thought.
On the way home from teaching, I stopped at the Brooklyn Public Library and picked up a copy of Eragon.
A few days later, Moshe picked me up again at 7:30. This time my father just shook his hand at the door – no need for the sit-down chat like they had the first time. He drove us to another hotel, this time with a lounge up on the tenth floor with big windows overlooking the crowded Manhattan streets.
I followed my mother’s advice and tried to turn the conversation to things other than Harry Potter. It didn’t work.
He asked if I had had a chance to read Eragon. It felt terrible to look at his eager, puppy-dog eyes and tell him I had given it a chance but couldn’t get past the first ten pages because I found the writing terrible.
His face fell. I launched into an analysis of why the writing of Harry Potter is so much better than Eragon. His response consisted of protestations about the magic, and the joy – and while I’m never opposed to enjoying books for that, I couldn’t quite respect someone who wouldn’t be willing to take a step back from that for a moment and at least acknowledge that someone else (ie, me) needs good writing in addition to magic.
And after all, wasn’t the point of dating to find someone to marry, someone to be the father of my children, someone whose decisions I would respect and who I could see as an equal, if not as superior to me?
He started gushing about this new Harry Potter cookbook that was going to be released soon, and I tuned him out. I spent most of the rest of the date smiling and nodding politely while I kept one eye on the big digital clock on the building across from us right outside the window.
I was upset when I got home.
“I told you I didn’t want to go out with him again,” I told my parents. “Of course he likes me! I’m not a horrible person, if he wants to keep gushing about Harry Potter and magic, I’ll let him, I’ll be nice, but he’s not someone I want to spend time with, let alone my whole life! This was a pointless night.”
My mother laughed. “Oy, mamaleh, if you only knew the amount of pointless dates I went on…”
“But this one was avoidable. I already knew before you set it up that it would be pointless.”
“Sometimes, shefelah, it takes more than one date to realize you might like someone. Obviously it wasn’t the case here. But it’s worth a second date to see if your first impression might change.”
I didn’t agree, but I let the point rest and went to bed, wondering if tomorrow I’d be asked to give him “one more chance” again because he liked me so much. (Was it that I owed it to him because he liked me? Was it that I should jump at anyone who liked me because they’re few and far between? Who knew.) But that was the end of this shidduch.
(Postscript: If I had met this guy randomly, not through the shidduch system, and if I had been thinking less about marriage and children and more about having fun – I probably would have enjoyed these dates. No, this isn’t someone I would ever marry. But he was actually fun, and if I had approached the conversation differently, I would have enjoyed the Harry Potter gushing. [There were other topics too, but this one sticks out most vividly in my memory 😉 .] I know people who think / thought shidduch dating is fun, but it was drilled into me that the purpose of dating is to find a marriage partner and father of your children. Non-shidduch dating is of course all about fun, but was disparaged so much as a frivolous waste of time that I guess I couldn’t relax and just enjoy the date once I knew there was no potential for marriage. It’s messed up.)
Next time: the date who wouldn’t stop talking about fetuses.