Tuesday, January 31, 2012


"Why don't you get a smartphone like everyone else?" 

Why don't I? Despite my verbosity I have difficulty adequately expressing my aversion to cellphones, texting, and the like.  

Pico Iyer puts it much better. 
In barely one generation we’ve moved from exulting in the time-saving devices that have so expanded our lives to trying to get away from them — often in order to make more time. The more ways we have to connect, the more many of us seem desperate to unplug. Like teenagers, we appear to have gone from knowing nothing about the world to knowing too much all but overnight. 
More and more services are being offered for not having technology available. 
Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for our miseries,” the French philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote in the 17th century, “and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries.” He also famously remarked that all of man’s problems come from his inability to sit quietly in a room alone.
Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twersky speaks on this topic. He explains what it means if one cannot handle silence and stillness. Listen to it all the way through; it is very informative.
Even half a century ago, Marshall McLuhan, who came closer than most to seeing what was coming, warned, “When things come at you very fast, naturally you lose touch with yourself.” Thomas Merton struck a chord with millions, by not just noting that “Man was made for the highest activity, which is, in fact, his rest” 
To be unoccupied is to attain the pinnacle of humanity.
We have more and more ways to communicate, as Thoreau noted, but less and less to say. 
Considering my love for the English language, I refuse to succumb to the abbreviated lingo of the texting world, painstakingly inserting apostrophes and semi-colons into the rare textual communication.

The one time I became entangled in a texting back-and-forth was absolutely pointless and incredibly annoying. I was trying to spend time with the ones in front of me, but had to keep checking my phone and tap an obvious response.
Two journalist friends of mine observe an “Internet sabbath” every week, turning off their online connections from Friday night to Monday morning, so as to try to revive those ancient customs known as family meals and conversation. 
The 25 hours of Shabbos is not enough for me to cut myself off from buzzing and humming. I want to be able to hear my brain whenever possible. Would I be able to maintain this blog, oddly enough, without internet disconnection? I don't think so. 
A series of tests in recent years has shown, Mr. Carr points out, that after spending time in quiet rural settings, subjects “exhibit greater attentiveness, stronger memory and generally improved cognition. Their brains become both calmer and sharper.” More than that, empathy, as well as deep thought, depends (as neuroscientists like Antonio Damasio have found) on neural processes that are “inherently slow.” 
If my brain is constantly being distracted, could I be able to think before I speak? Could I be able to see other's pain and try to behave accordingly? Could I realize when I mess up, and ensure that I don't do it again? Being without a phone, I find, makes me more in-tune to others.

The author has never used a cell phone. His reasons? 
None of this is a matter of principle or asceticism; it’s just pure selfishness. Nothing makes me feel better — calmer, clearer and happier — than being in one place, absorbed in a book, a conversation, a piece of music. It’s actually something deeper than mere happiness: it’s joy, which the monk David Steindl-Rast describes as “that kind of happiness that doesn’t depend on what happens.”  
I like it that I can walk in fresh air without my pockets buzzing or music blaring in my ears. If I'm on the train and have finished my book, I like to look out of the window and hear the wheels in my mind turn, instead of waiting for a text. I make a point that if I enter a party and have no one to talk to, I won't whip out a phone. That keeps me open to meeting someone new. 

I like keeping my brain unoccupied and unstimulated so I can think. It is at those times, while my mind wanders from subject to subject, that I have had the most life-changing epiphanies. 

I shouldn't feel defensive if someone questions my choice to remain relatively unconnected. My usual response when someone asks why I remain cell-less is "I don't always want to be found."  

I regularly leave my phone at home, perhaps for the same rallying cry that had Scots daub their faces in woad and run screaming with axes at the English army. 
For freedom.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Get Thee to a Nunnery

She looks worried, and I'm not sure why. 

"Well, um . . ." she begins, "that guy I was telling you about? It seems that . . . " she wrings her hands. 

He said no? This reaction seems a bit overboard.

"He . . . he . . ." 

He's a serial killer?

"He got engaged." 

That's it? 

"Oh, how nice!" 

She looks at me suspiciously. 

For the most part, whenever I hear that someone got engaged, even if the guy was a potential date, I'm happy for them. After all, if he got engaged obviously I'm not his bashert, right? 

"But I'm so sorry," she continues. "Are you okay?" 

Um, I never met him before. Why should I care? 

"How about that other guy you mentioned?" 

"You're still on that?" she replies, a tad annoyed. 

Well, yeah. Just because a complete stranger got engaged doesn't mean my life is over. Picture it: sobbing of epic proportions in a darkened bedroom surrounded by empty ice cream tubs sticking to the floor as I mourn the loss of a guy I never met. 

Pass a spoon. So I can throw it at you.  

Friday, January 27, 2012

She is Hungarian! (Not)

When I first read the play Pygmalion I was in high school, and had already memorized My Fair Lady. It was then that I first came across the endnote that Eliza marries Freddy and the two live a happy life of shabby gentility. 

At first I was horrified - married to that idiot?  

It was years later that I finally realized: Professor Higgins is a meanie. 

I am never able to tolerate fictional or real relationships where one side is constantly mocked and mistreated. If two men court a woman, one all respectful adoration, the other snarky and making jabs at her expense, seriously, who truly cares for her? 

Pygmalion was based on a Ovid's artist of the same name who carves a statue of a beautiful woman. He "falls in love" with his own lifeless creation, finding real women unpalatable. After bringing a sacrifice to Venus (the goddess of love), she fulfills his wish to animate his beloved. 

And the two live happily ever after. 

Shaw's Pygmalion is built on that premise, but with a twist; Higgins takes this "squashed cabbage leaf" and by reforming her dialect, grants her a new identity in class-conscious England. He also treats her unkindly as his property, being his "creation."

In that last, stupendous showdown, Eliza proves her independence from him (even though he takes credit for that as well) and marches off, seemingly, to realize her own destiny separate from her Pygmalion. 

Shaw had it that she marries Freddy, who, while not the brightest bulb, worships her outspokenness and vitality. 

In the fabulous 1938 movie adaptation of Pygmalion, the ending is changed; the producers insisted upon a "happy" ending, where Eliza returns to Higgins, who realizes that he mourns her departure. Here's the full film; I highly recommend it. Thankfully it is closed-captioned. The great tell-off scene begins at 1:25:20 or so.  
This new ending takes the reworking to another hurtful level by having Higgins covering up his joy by callously demanding his slippers. 

As a child, of course I expected Higgins and Eliza to marry. When I watch it now, it is clear that if a bully like Higgins proposed to me, I would sock him in the nose first. 

Despite my disillusionment, My Fair Lady is a gorgeous film, of bright colors and vibrant songs and fabulous dialogue that does not get smothered in the music. 

Shaw's other themes, like the evolution of middle-class morality, are still explored (Morality did not exist, either amongst the wealthy, who did what they liked, and the poor, who couldn't afford it. With the rise of industry and the middle-class, they brought with them morality and religion, which was rather tiresome for the poor as well as the rich. Moving on.) 

Despite the fact that Eliza returns to be Higgins' whipping dog, I shall dwell on the film's merits as a musical. While Julie Andrews portrayed her on Broadway, she was not considered to be a big enough name for the film. 

This video dubs Andrews' voice over Marni Nixon's (Hepburn's dubbed singing voice). Oh, Julie. WHAT a voice. 
When I listen to Hepburn now, her voice distinctly bears an accent; I am no teacher of phonetics, but I can tell she is not a British-born. They should have gone with Julie Andrews, but I suppose Hepburn is all right. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Oh So Lonely

I have noticed that after men marry, if they find themselves alone they are frantic. If they were so unfortunate as to lose or misplace a spouse, they are swift to rectify that omission, not finding their new single state remotely attractive. 

There was an episode (entitled "Pasadena") of the short-lived Law & Order: LA, which was a knockoff the the John Edwards scandal. His wife dying, her husband had already lined up a replacement wife who was also pregnant with his child.  

The female ADA Price was perplexed, but Morales (Alfred Molina), says, "You're young; you don't understand. It's the one thing men fear most: being alone." 

Dominique Browning analyzes this phenomena. She finds herself now without a man, and she is giddy. 
. . . of course, if we were lucky enough to fall madly in love with someone again, we would gladly trade in our single ways and hitch up.
But the key word is “madly.”
Because many women, once released from marriage, seem to feel that it would take an act of madness to move back into a setup that involves not only housekeeping in all its manifold time-sucking beauty but also husband-keeping.
Men do seem to require a lot of maintenance. 

After falling on her driveway, with no spouse to assist her, she has an epiphany. 
Until I fell, I never understood exactly why men were so loath to remain alone. Surely it wasn’t just a sexist reliance on having a mate who did the shopping, cooking, nesting, scheduling and child-rearing? All around me were plenty of men who pitched in at least a little on all those things, men entirely capable of taking care of themselves.
Men do not want the security of dinner. They want the safety of someone who will have their back.   

My father went to be menachem aveil a widower. The man wailed, "What's going to happen to me? Who will take care of me?," despite the fact he was as rich as Croesus and could easily employ an army of people to ensure his well-being. He remarried in record time. 
Home is where I am supposed to be safe.
And that’s when the circuit breaker tripped. Men are hard-wired to feel danger all the time. I know there must be science around somewhere to back up this assertion, but seriously, that’s what makes a man a man. A man is on guard because that is his job.
Her perspective is that a man, as the quintessential hunter gatherer, expects danger, no matter the surroundings. Whereas women, as nesters, equate home with safety. 
We love our nests. We tend them, and in exchange we expect them to keep us snug and warm and serene and safe. Which, generally, they do. Because nests are reliable. 
But men know that even the home can fail them. Which is what she learned when she hit the driveway. 
Women do not walk around alert for danger. Nor do we feel that being alone is dangerous, except in the rare instances when we fall and crack our tailbones. Women are hard-wired to read the signals that keep us from danger, and, when confronted by trouble, we escape, fleeing into our homes. 
But who will help you up when the nest can't? 
Suddenly, everything I learned in the ’70s seemed refreshingly clear-eyed. A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.
Now I understand why a man needs marriage like a fish needs water.
At least, alone, it is quiet enough to hear myself think. But the guys may have a point. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Genug Already!

It is getting incredibly tedious, but I it appears I am stuck in the roundabout of redting. 
Every time the phone rings, it is for one of three guys: Ponda Boba, Greedo, or Bren Derlin.  

I am seriously considering developing a taste for alcohol. 

While Bren does not deserve any remarks, the first two do. It takes nearly every ounce of self-control not to break into Xena-whacking mode when someone coos that Greedo sounds like SUCH a catch, or that Ponda is SO nice.  

Wine, please? 

Rather, hit me over the head with the bottle. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I Fried!

I had come across Busy in Brooklyn's recipe for cheese latkes, and decided I was going to make them for a family Chanukah brunch. This was major, since Ma doesn't quite trust me with the stove ever since I melted a Tupperware lid in 1998.

My nephew can't process gluten, and I thought I had a more pleasant alternate flour in the house (like almond meal), but I was stuck with garbanzo bean flour.  

I decided to try it anyway.

I whisked the flour, eggs, and cheese together, and tasted it. It was nasty; the bean flour tasted distinctly like bean flour.  

"I have to chuck this," I said with despair to Ma, who was prepping the fish. 

"You'd be surprised what sugar can do," she said.  

I added the sugar, a dollop of vanilla sugar and a dash of vanilla extract. The next taste was somewhat improved, but not amazingly so. 

"You'd be surprised what frying can do," Ma said. 

With despair, I warmed up the pan, unwilling to put good ingredients in the garbage. 

Luke arrived, arms laden with children.  

"Oooh, cheese latkes!" He plucked one, fresh from the pan, and popped it into his mouth. I winced. 
Via pbs.org
"Man, these are good!"  

My eyes widened in shock. 

The nephew with celiac disease loved it, and kept scurrying into the kitchen for more; he usually has to be begged to eat anything.  

Another nephew, scrawny from disinterest in food, crowed merrily that he could eat ten more plates of these. 

I stood for two hours, frying steadily; as soon as a latke was taken off the fire, it was claimed by greedy hands.  

When I finally sat down, the last latke was being fought over. 

And I felt great. There is such satisfaction in making something that everyone loves and is pretty nutritious, since garbanzo bean flour is high in fiber and protein, and I used the tamest of cheeses, cottage.

"Can you make this again?" the nephew without digestive upsets begs. 

"You betcha!" I assure him.  

Behold, future dates! I can fry!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Battle of the Bulge: Start Small

A few weeks ago the NY Times Magazine had a cover, "Do You Have to Be Superhuman to Lose Weight?" 

The story within, "The Fat Trap," related that it appears to be that when obese individuals lose weight, their body fights against it; eventually, they have to consume less to maintain the same weight as someone else, since their bodies are not happy about this drastic change. 

The study referenced took a control group of obese individuals and put them on a major diet, restricting their portions to specific shakes and two cups of veggies a day. For those who stuck with it, the average weight loss in ten weeks was 30 pounds. Then the subjects were taken off the diet; many regained the weight. 

I don't think that any means of successful weight loss will involve extreme starvation; people do not become unhealthily heavy overnight, so it cannot be they can remove that weight suddenly and keep it off. 

I would think that if one wanted to take control of their weight, they have to start small. Like no processed or take-out foods. Introducing less refined flours into their diet, and fruits and vegetables. And when they are victorious in healthy food habits, moving on to portion size.

If the body experiences gradual weight loss, the way it experienced gradual weight gain, maybe it won't react so strongly to loss of pounds.  

While I was not categorized as overweight (being tall has its perks for pound distribution), I implemented methods to control my eating. I would take up a step, and I managed to maintain it to the point where it became routine, rather than an effort. After nearly a decade, I've had to date a 20 pound weight loss, the most recent five pounds lost this year. 

I've been relaying how I did it, and I hope those who have weight issues out there will opt for a healthier means rather than shortcuts. For instance, on Dr. Phil there was a woman who had bariatric surgery, but she never actually dealt with her food addiction. Since she couldn't eat because her stomach would explode, she became a shopaholic.

Something that major will not be able to be solved by sudden, drastic measures; it has to be undertaken with patience and determination. As in many things in life.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Not A Cloud, But Darn Close

Sleeping used to involve a level of steps. 

I could only remain on either my left side or on my back. I can only fall asleep on my right side, see, and if I rolled too soon there than I wouldn't be able to fall asleep, since I can only do that when already dozing off. Then I would have to make sure to tip myself over the right side, since on my left side or on my back I would just remain in a state of suspended animation, not actual sleep.  

It's simple when one gets used to it. 

I began to notice that I was sleeping better in practically every other bed, including the ones that fold out of a sofa. Meaning, that my regular bed should cause me such problems is not normal. 

The few times I dared to sit on others' memory foam mattresses I nearly wept in comfort. Not willing to invest in an entire one, I searched for a mattress pad; my mattress itself is still in good condition.  

And found one that is really loved: Sleep Studio 2" Visco2 Ventilated Mattress Enhancer. I bought it, waited eagerly in the doorway and nearly did a cartwheel when it arrived. 
The hype is definitely worth it.  

I can lay down now on my right side without torpedoing my chances of sleep. I can remain in the same position for eight hours and I won't ache in the morning. My blankets remain perfectly tucked around me, instead of my flailing them on the floor whilst tossing and turning. 

I look forward now to the night, when I slide under the covers and unintentionally go "Aaaaaaaah." 

Now, on nights when the kinfauna (tips to Bad4) invade, it is not a surprise to walk into my bedroom to find my niece in my bed. 

"Get out!" 

She grumbles as she moves into the other spare bed, and I crawl into mine.  


*Be aware that the mattress pad has a distinct smell of mint after unpacking it. That dissipates after a few days.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Unthreatening Vegetables

Cooking shows, while being informative, can leave one with a flayed ego. 

Chefs condescendingly prattle about species of squash I never heard of, claiming it's available in the local market (not mine). They use spices like rosemary that I can't stand - even the name "rosemary" sounds like a female I wouldn't be able to stand in real life. They whip out alien contraptions which, they claim, is the only way to properly extract garlic.
Blah, Barefoot Contessa. Blah.
Tamar Adler strives to change that faulty image of dinner having to be a masterpiece. In her book, she educates the reader that recipes are not a given, that with the knowledge of how to properly boil water, one is a free agent. 

Many of today's generation have not witnessed home cooking first hand, she says, so they think home cooked is what the television personalities do oh-so-annoyingly.

The article made me consider my own approach to vegetables. 

Often, for a meal, when I have access to a stove, I just throw into a pan with some extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder any vegetable available. Sweet potato, mushrooms, parsnip, canned beans, frozen spinach, broccoli, or peas. For added oomph I saute an onion. The steaming resulting mess is absolutely delicious as well as nourishing; I can sense all those vitamins and minerals rushing throughout my bloodstream.

But it would seem my water boiling leaves much to be desired.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Feed Me

"Can you cook?" he asks casually. 

I pause in middle of twirling my pasta. Uh-oh. 

"I can cook," I attempt to explain, hoping a defensive note wasn't creeping into my tone. "It's just that when you live with an amazing chef like my mother, any of my efforts are kind of moot." 

He nods, and asks something else, but I have a feeling I just flunked the test. 

He is not first, nor the last, guy to ask. I try to dazzle them with my other hobbies - shopping ("Do you need a suit? You're a 42 Regular, right?"), painting ("Well I wouldn't say I was Michelangelo, exactly . . . "), super child-raising skills ("By the time my nephew was sent home he was not only potty-trained, he could make omelettes.")

He takes in all these tidbits with a pleasant smile, but I know that on his mental checklist, I have been crossed out. 
Am I imagining it, gentlemen?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

We All Know "Fiddler," So How 'Bout . . .

I find modern rom-coms to be quite frustrating as there is nothing much in them that connects to how we date and woo. After Pride and Prejudice, we resort to quoting Fiddler on the Roof

A while back I saw this film, Arranged. The executive producer is Yuta Silverman, a gal from Borough Park, and the film is inspired by her dating events and her friendship with a Muslim girl.  
To give the film wider appeal, I am guessing, the main character's family seem like a mish-mash of various Jewish backgrounds. It's nice, because when watching it one doesn't automatically categorize the family into a box-like affiliation. 

Although, there does seem to be too much emphasis on the shadchan rather than the family and friends that usually set one up. Nor do we claim that the shadchan is a prophetess who can select one's spouse for them.  

Frum women also only wear white tights, apparently. Sooooo unflattering.

Here is an interview with the directors.  

Here is an article in the Jewish Week.

Trailer below. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Cleanse Away

One of the basic beauty tenets is: never go to bed without taking off makeup. Of course, as frummies, there will have to be an exception once a week for Friday nights, and for various yomim tovim

But otherwise, it is very much necessary to take that Face off, no matter how late one crawls in the door from a wedding. 

Here are a few of my favorite cleansers: 

Dr. Woods Facial Cleanser Black Soap and Shea Butter. Black soap is African in origin, containing a mixture of plantain, cocoa pods, palm tree leaves, and shea tree bark. Plantain skins contain vitamins A and E. 

Black soap is good for all skin types, from sensitive, dry, oily, and acne. Like tea tree, it has many uses for treating various skin conditions, but I find that it is not as harsh as tea tree oil. It is a thorough cleanser that helps the skin without stripping it.

Auromere Sandalwood-Tumeric Ayurvedic Bar Soap. Tumeric is good for acne and oily skin, and the many natural oils in this bar keeps skin moisturized; my skin feels yummily soft after using this. It also smells delicious.    

Avalon Organics Vitamin C Refreshing Gel or Milk. The gel is for oily skin types, the milk for dry. These cleansers smell heavenly of orange, a fragrance which I happen to love. The vitamin C it contains is beneficial to the skin. 

Grandpa's Thylox Acne Treatment Soap with Sulfur. While sulfur is not exactly divine to the nostrils, it is considered an effective treatment of acne.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Winter SPF

I have combination skin, so while I have an oily t-zone the rest of my face can get pretty dry and tight in the frigid winter months. 

During those times I need to up the ante when it comes to moisturizer. However, it also can't be too greasy.  

Enter Reviva Labs Sun Protective Light Cream Moisturizer. It has a light, whipped quality, and sinks into skin without leaving an oily residue. It's too rich for me in warmer weather, but for those with dry or combination skin it should be ideal. It claims it is for all skin types, so those with oily skin can give it a try, too. 
SPF in winter is very necessary - the sun is just as potent, so be sure to wear sunglasses and shmear up the skin.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Big Watches

I like me a big watch. I find that large, clunky, cuff-like men's watches grant an aura of daintiness; small, thin timepieces make me feel less fine-boned, oddly enough. Women cited in the article like a big watch too, and since their men can't wear a watch smaller than the women in their life, theirs get to be HUGE. 

While the article was saying that due to the prominence of cell phones and such, watches are now for strictly showing-off purposes, I actually use my watch since I have an aversion toward phones in general. 

The other benefit to large watches is that it is really easy to tell time with those huge hands and prominent numbers. Ergo, less squinting. Meaning, no wrinkles.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Essie Poor Lil' Rich Girl

With flash . . .

. . . and without.
An appropriate wintertime shade; when my bottle ran out I was on Ebay for a replacement. Dark shades like these look best with short nails. My nails were in bad cracked shape and I had clipped them to the quick, so I then applied a dark color. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Ideal Timing

There is another aspect of When Harry Met Sally that really gives one something to ponder; Harry and Sally did not become friends at their initial meeting. Five years later when they bump into each other at the airport, they still get on each other's nerves. It is only when they see each other another five years later, both needing support after their own breakups, that they begin to bond. 
Harry was boorish at the first meeting; Sally was uptight and too fond of hairspray. The next time they meet they are both seeing other people. 

Often, when they meet up again and repeat what one said at the last bump-in, the other says, "I said that? I never said that."

People do change over time. I certainly know my opinions have morphed drastically over the years. 

Harry and Sally couldn't have become a couple the first time they met, nor the second. It took ten years for each of them to be shaped by personal experiences to make them ideal for each other. 

My Prince (snort) will show when the time is right. That's why "iy'H by you b'shaa tovah" gets on my nerves. Duh, he's gonna show at the right time.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The HM Complex

Harry: There are two kinds of women: high maintenance and low maintenance.
Sally: Which one am I?
Harry: You're the worst kind; you're high maintenance but you think you're low maintenance. 
That is one of my favorite quotes from When Harry Met Sally.  I could watch that movie over and over; it contains so many truths about human nature. 
I'm sure many take one look at me and think "high maintenance." I'm sure many of my readers will think "high maintenance." Dates have bolted thinking I am "high maintenance." I happen to not think of myself as "high maintenance."

But you wear makeup! You pursue clothing! You frantically preserve your skin! Guilty, guilty, aaaaaand guilty.

When I asked around how one qualifies as being HM, I received similar answers. The true HM is when someone needs other people to maintain them; manicurists, hair stylists, personal shoppers,  maids, etc. Whatever I do, I do relatively alone; my own nails, my own hair (unless it's a simcha), I shop sales, I can scrub a pot. HMers aren't willing to flow with "imperfection"; they need everything just so, and harass others to get what they want. 

Perhaps I am trying to convince myself, but I think I'll allow it. 

And the conversation continues: 
Harry: You're the worst kind; you're high maintenance but you think you're low maintenance.
Sally: I don't see that.
Harry: You don't see that? Waiter, I'll begin with a house salad, but I don't want the regular dressing. I'll have the balsamic vinegar and oil, but on the side. And then the salmon with the mustard sauce, but I want the mustard sauce on the side. "On the side" is a very big thing for you.
Sally: Well, I just want it the way I want it.
Harry: I know; high maintenance.  
I'm in the clear!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Precursor to Shabbos Robes

The Hostess gowns of the 1970s can be equated to the "Shabbos robe" that used to be and still is cultivated by many a baalas habayis. Often made from polyester, and so unfriendly around stoves, it was ideal for pre-cooked Shabbos meals. 
via cupofte.blogspot.com
When googling "Shabbos robe," the screen screams with results. It is still with us,  it seems. 
Via RazaDesigns.com
The article was chronicling the debate of the modern hostess; for the non-Jewish world, the hostess gown is no longer an option. Some want to dress up more, others less.

As a hostess, it seems, there is no wrong way to dress. So be comfy when serving chicken soup.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Take 2

"Did you ever go out with Bren Derlin?" 

Bren was a really nice guy I went out with once. However, we had absolutely nothing in common besides being tall. Due to the aforementioned height, his name comes up often. According to many, our similarity in inches is sufficient reason for a future together. 

"Yes, I have, he was really nice, but we had nothing to talk about. We spent the whole night smiling at each other."  

She whips out her phone, tapping out a text to him as though I hadn't spoken. "That was a long time ago; he's grown up since then."  

"But he was grown up then!"  

"He'll do what I ask him," she continues to tap, ignoring my objections.  

"But I!"  

She swats away my protests as though dealing with an annoyingly buzzing insect. 

I was mortified, amongst other emotions, but thankfully the force of his lack of feeling echoed mine. He wrote back to her, firmly, that I was nice but we had nothing in common, that we spent the whole night smiling at each other

She was rather deflated, and confessed that considering how her own daughter's marriage came about (she knew her spouse for years and didn't marry until her 30s) she supposes that one can't force things. 


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Chapping the Chuppah

We now have an opportunity of potentially getting our hands on  serious royalties. 

The romantic symobolism of the chuppah has appealed to others outside of the Jewish faith.  


Monday, January 2, 2012

Chivalry is White Gloved

There is a tale in my family - that when my great-grandfather "came to call" on an eligible gal who would later become his wife, he arrived wearing white gloves and carrying a cane. 

According to the lore, it was those accessories that drove her to the chuppah.  

While we may all guffaw that such times are long behind us - a date once showed up on my doorstep in a disintegrating baseball cap and cargo pants, then inquired why I was so dressed up (in my simplest dress) - there is, of course, still that yearning when men wore tails and women wore silk gloves, the very romantic formality depicted in Cinderella.  

Charlotte Altar, who grew up with tales such as these from her mother's reminiscing, felt the lack that a dating website cannot fulfill. She, also, sought a memory of romance to pass on to the next generation.
When it comes to love, the main lesson I absorbed from my mother’s experiences was that even if most relationships hit the rocks, you should at least walk away with a good story. And I had none. So when I saw a chance to step into a memorable narrative of my own, I leapt.
She began to see a West Point Cadet. Despite her lack of feelings for him,  she was taken. 

He invited her to a West Point banquet, and her grandmother commented that she has a "beau." 
I rolled my eyes, though I was secretly pleased to have this experience vaguely linked to an earlier time, when people wore gloves and dating was a social fact. There was something comforting in the idea that my experience was not completely foreign to her.
I began to realize that even though this flirtation with the Cadet wasn’t a real romance, I was romanticizing it nevertheless. I was practically clutching at the idea even if I wasn’t clinging to the person.
The banquet itself was a blur of pinched toes and formal introductions. The Cadet wore a white uniform, crisp gloves and a sword.
Freshmen (guys my own age) waited on us, bringing us drinks with a stiff “Yes, sir,” and “For the lady.” 
. . . He had a sword, we drank Champagne, there was war talk: that sounds like a real love story, doesn’t it?
While the experiences with the Cadet may seem a bit much, even dates taking a walk by the river, as baby boomer college alumni inquired of their former university, is extinct. 
“Well, what do people do then, on a date?”
I wanted to assure him that people still occasionally go out to dinner or attend formal events. But the truth is that sometimes these encounters feel more like acts of nostalgia than acts of love.
My great-grandparents' story survived past world wars until today. And that was a shidduch date, yet! 

I have no such desires, truly. My parents have no story; my siblings have no story. My grandparents do, possibly because they were survivors, so any story is automatically gripping.  

"Happily ever afters" do not necessarily require "Once upon a time." I can settle for a non-epic.