What do you think of when you hear the phrase “first date”? For most people, awkward chit-chat, stilted conversations, and icebreakers come to mind.
I live “out of town”, and I travel. A lot. I seem to always be driving back and forth between my parents’ home in Maryland and New York. To add some fun to the mix, my job also requires me to travel on extended business trips. Did I mention that I’m in a constant state of exhaustion?
I guess when you live with your parents in Lakewood, you don’t get my kind of dates. You get the sweet, nervous yeshiva bochur. He rings the doorbell, meets your parents, and then you are swept off to a hotel lobby for three glorious hours, where you are both silently counting the minutes until it’s socially appropriate for him to take off his hat.
I have met dates in the parking lot of my office, in complete strangers’ houses, and in hotel lobbies (in my defense, the hotel ones were just in Israel, where it’s actually the social norm for couples to meet each other, instead of the guy picking up the girl like a knight in his shining yeshivishe Toyota).
Shadchanim are also incredibly helpful. “He didn’t think you were fun enough.” “He is looking for someone more outgoing…you know, like your mother.” “You talked too much.” “You didn’t bear your soul enough to this complete stranger who I set you up with.”
One summer night, I am redt to a really great guy who lives in the city. My parents ask if I could date from my mother’s BEST friend’s house in Brooklyn, even though I have never met her before. Being the good Bais Yaakov daughter, I agree.
After work, I get into my car and promptly get horribly lost. Exhausted, starving, and completely unprepared for my date, I get out of my car, with handfuls of clothing, makeup, and hair products. Stumbling up the driveway, I see that I’m at the wrong address. I turn back around and shove everything back into the car, no longer worrying if my straightening iron gets tangled with my high heels.
I drive up the block to the CORRECT house, meet my mother’s friend, eat dinner with her family, and quickly run into the bathroom to get ready. Except…my shirt is missing. Now, this normally wouldn’t be a problem. I wear nice clothes to work, and I’m pretty relaxed when it comes to “dating rules” (can you tell?). But I happen to be wearing a very casual sweater, and this is a FIRST date, and even I don’t think it is socially appropriate to wear my work clothes.
Trying not to panic, I thank my mother’s friend profusely and explain that I have forgotten my Shabbos shirt down the block where I had originally gotten out of my car. After driving up and down the street in a futile attempt to find my shirt in the pitch black, I give up. Heading back into the house, I walk right over…my shirt. Which now sports tire marks up and down the front of it.
Ok. Still not panicking. I go back inside the house and explain the situation to my new friend. “Oh, well you can just borrow my clothes,” she says cheerfully. I start laughing, but this situation is too dire for hysteria. Miraculously, we find a shirt that fits me and goes suitably well with my work skirt. Ok. We’re good to go.
Afterwards, the shadchan calls and tells me that the guy really liked how put together I looked. Success!
My friends are very helpful in explaining to me why I am not yet married. I wear a bun to work. I don’t always wear heels on the first date—sometimes, I compromise with (gasp!) wedges (why dress to impress when you don’t know if he is worth impressing yet?). The most complex part of my makeup routine is my mascara (I don’t understand what contouring means, and I don’t think I ever will).
Shadchanim are also incredibly helpful. “He didn’t think you were fun enough.” “He is looking for someone more outgoing…you know, like your mother.” “You talked too much.” “You didn’t bear your soul enough to this complete stranger who I set you up with.” THANKS, everyone! I’ll be sure to note that down as I continue my life-long journey of updating and altering my personality.
Don’t get me wrong. Dating isn’t all bad. Sometimes, they buy you food. Once, I was sitting at a restaurant with a date, and he asked me about the most challenging experience I had ever gone through. I was tempted to reply, “I’m just here for the free pizza.” (Of course, being the good Bais Yaakov girl that I am, I gave a vague and polite answer which somewhat satisfied the question).
Well…on to the next! (Can I order dessert this time?)