What do you get when you stick a bunch of Jews in a room together? Jewish geography!
“Oh, you're from NY? I once met a guy from NY. I can't remember his name but I think he was a lawyer or a doctor or something from the Upper West Side.”
“Toronto? Do you know a guy named Shmuel? I think that's his name anyway. He's my mother's second cousin from her father's side. I think he has a beard.”
What happens when the number of distant family members and passing acquaintances from all over the world is exhausted? The matchmaking commences!
And what is Israel if not a large metaphorical room with a bunch of Jews stuck in it? Everyone and his mother is a shadchan in this country. The old lady at the gym is a matchmaker. The hairdresser and the shoe repairman are shadchanim. Even the guy at the cheese counter decided I needed to find a nice boy.
I was in the changing room at the fitness center and an old woman sitting on the bench randomly asked me if I had a boyfriend. I told her that I did not, and she promptly asked me if I'd like one. I was like, “no, not really.”
“Good! I go to the Western Wall every week to pray for all the single people. I'll say a prayer for you that you should find your soul mate!”
I just sighed and replied, “If you feel you must.”
My mother brought a pair of shoes to the shoe repairman outside the shuk a while back and she must have mentioned that she had a daughter because the guy then tried to set me up with either his son, or some acquaintance (my mother's still unclear about who this poor shlemiel was) whose wife he didn't like. He hoped that they would get divorced and that this guy would marry someone else that the shoe repairman liked better. This was the first time someone had tried to set me up with a married man.
After this I asked my mother to please never mention me again and to stop showing people the picture she keeps of me in her wallet. I then secretly replaced the picture of me with a picture of an ogre with the hopes that even the most desperate would think twice about setting Shrek up with their 50 year old son who lost his job 5 years ago and still lives at home, but who happens to be a very nice man (even if he doesn't have much hair left and could probably stand to replace a few of his falafel meals a day with a salad).
A few years ago my roommate tried setting me up a few times. Matchmaking is clearly not included in her skill set (and I'm sure she has many). She should probably leave matchmaking to the professionals- like the guy at the cheese counter, for example. The first guy she asked me about was a guy who worked with her in archives. He had overheard her and another woman talking about dating and how there were no good single men. He popped his head up from behind the cubicle and announced to them both, “I'm single!”
I said no thanks to the desperate, eavesdropping archivist.
The next guy she tried to set me up with was apparently interested but couldn't even work up the courage to call me. I was not interested in a guy I'd probably have to coax out from behind the couch every time the doorbell rang.
The third guy was some yeshiva bochur about my age, whose Rabbi she knew and had said nice things about him. He was interested until he found out that I'd served in the army. It seems that his brain couldn't handle this new information and caused something to short out. He started freaking out that it was prohibited for women to serve in the army and that it was a corrupting environment, etc. etc. Even his Rabbi said he was overreacting and told him that there was nothing wrong with women serving in the army. It's probably a good thing no one told him that I had been a weapons mechanic, wear pants, and have no intention of staying home with the children. They might have had to call him an ambulance and defibrillate his heart. Nothing that my roommate had told me about the guy (even before his freak out) had made me want to date him (really? a yeshiva bochur?), but I least I'd had the dubious pleasure of being the cause of his minor mental malfunction.
Honestly, I'm a little too evil for a “nice guy.” A few weeks ago the hairdresser had mentioned to my father that he knows a nice 24 year old guy whose hair he cuts- an industrial engineer serving a 5 year stint in the army. I guess my dad knows me pretty well (a side effect of me living at home for the past too many years) because he answered that the two most important things to me are that a guy appreciate my sense of humor and that he like animals. The hairdresser didn't have enough information on this count but decided it would be worth pursuing. Thanks to my incredible timing, I'd made an appointment with him for the next week (before he could forget the entire scheme). But by the end of the session, he had managed to convince himself that a nice, shy 24 year old with very little experience with women (having come from a very religious background) maybe wasn't the best match for me. I was admittedly relieved.
A friend of mine recently asked me to keep her in mind if I met any nice guys. I was like, right, because I meet so many normal guys during the course of the day. I wouldn't hold my breath if I were her.