I'm feel a moderately self-righteous rant coming on. This may be harsh and unfair, as self-righteous rants often are. Please bear with me. If you have not seen me in this mode before, please know that this, too, shall pass. I will return to my normal, subdued self momentarily.
Also know that any events, real or fictional, that may have inspired this post are long past, as it has been sitting around in draft form for some time now. So if you see yourself in this post, please take a moment to reflect on that unfortunate fact, and don't get mad at me. Okay? (If you don't see yourself in this post and think that I am totally off base about the Upper West Side Orthodox singles scene, let's become friends!)
Part 1 (Part 2 will be in a later, separate post):
"Meet the Metrodox," an article from the
The sad/pathetic/ridiculous state of the Orthodox singles scene on the Upper West Side is one reason why none of my close friends are Upper West Side "scenesters." They are either non-Orthodox Upper West Siders or people who lives elsewhere entirely, many even out of town. (This is a context in which the phrase "out of town" actually makes sense.) That's why I say that I am not "in" the community described in the aforementioned article, despite my zip code.
Really, would you want to hang out with a bunch of whiney people (details have been changed to protect the unsuspecting) who complain that there is no one to date, while disparaging where a person happens to live ("He lives in Teaneck!") or his social skills ("I hear he's a little shy...")? For the love of God, wouldn't you be a little bit shy if you knew that 10 people were discussing your social skills at the Shabbos table a few hours before you had a blind date? I wish these superficial women the happiest lives possible, but I'm not very sympathetic to their plight and I honestly don't blame any man who doesn't want to marry them. Likewise, I am not sympathetic to the plight of men who don't want smart wives or men who require their potential wives to excel only at cooking, cleaning, and hosting large social gatherings. That is entirely unacceptable in today's world (or in any world, but I will cut some slack to people who grew up before the 1960s/70s). I hear that there exist men who only want super skinny women who wear a lot of makeup and spike heels, but I haven't experienced that or heard it first- or even second-hand, so I won't go there.
I don't think it's a one-sided thing, that women are too picky or men are too picky. It's not a matter of picky--that's the wrong word. It's a matter of one's tastes having developed from Sex and the City rather than the reality of being a human being: a bit of abdominal fat, sometimes shy at first meeting, balding pates, conversational lulls, frizzy hair, an inappropriate joke or two, occasional acne, non-opposable thumbs (alright, I'll admit it, that's my tragic flaw), and all. Why does anyone expect anyone to be otherwise? And if you expect your potential mate to be "perfect," are you willing for him to want you to be "perfect"?
I put "perfect" in quotes because, really, what kind of perfection is 1200 calorie a day, size 2, perfectly coiffed hair, expertly applied makeup, and a lilting and appropriately-timed laugh? What kind of "perfect" is whatever the equivalent is for men (I don't know what that might be, since I honestly don't know any women who look for those things first)? It's the kind of perfect that raises nutty children and cracks from the stress at age 50. Good luck footing the therapy bills, man! Seeking any kind of perfection, even a nobler sort of moral or intellectual perfection, seems like a bad idea from the get-go, because nobody's perfect and anyone who presents themselves as such is more deeply flawed than you want to know. (Plus, your imperfections would be magnified in comparison!)
For the love of God and all that is good and holy in this world, wouldn't you rather date and one day marry someone who loves children and old people and dogs, books and music and dappled sunshine in the park? I'm not saying you should ever date anyone whom you do not find physically attractive.1 I'm just suggesting that maybe that shouldn't be the very first thing you look for, the thing without which you will not consider a second date or maybe even a first one. Sometimes those child-old-people-dog-book-music-lovers have sparkly green eyes, or stellar smiles, or auburn hair with a hint of a wave, or the most melodious voices, or the best laughs, or shockingly attractive legs. But if you look for those things first, God only knows what you'll find inside.
Moderately self-righteous rant over (for now). Stay tuned for Part 2.
Update: Lest you think that the right-wing, "yeshivish" world has it any better, read this, which is some combination of absurd and tragic.
1. Give some thought, for a moment, to how the right qualities can make a totally ordinary-looking person drop-dead gorgeous. (And how superficially beautiful people can turn ugly in the blink of an eye when they turn out to be self-absorbed, unkind, or very rude.)