Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Another vanishing act

Last week I saw an intriguing profile on a dating website and just had to write. He defines "modern orthodox-machmir" as

I wear tzitzis AND I shop at the Gap. I say tehillim AND read Eugenides. There's a secular world and a Jewish world, and I love both of them.

I like Eugenides. Here's how Mr. MO-M describes himself:

I genuinely appreciate the details. I read a lot, run a lot, go to the zoo and movies a lot. I play music -- badly. I like a night out with friends to see a great band. I like staying in and watching "Arrested Development," too. I like learning with my chevrusas. I like hooded sweatshirts. I'm honest, sincere and loyal. If I'm OK at one thing, just one thing, it's writing. I can be a little irreverent, but I know when to say when. I'm funny. Whatever it is, I want to talk it through. I care deeply. And I'll take mercy over justice most of the time. And the other day, I was listening to Daniel Johnston while learning Sfas Emes. Does that mean anything to you?

Don't know who Johnston is, but I like the sound of this guy. He's articulate, edgy, witty, and loves to read. What kind of woman does he seek?

You live in this world and are happy to do so. You are balanced and comfortable in your own skin. You're curious. You're a music snob who can appreciate a good sweatshirt and a ballcap. You read a lot. You are funny. You have no strong preferences about cold fruit. You're active, adventurous. And you're so kind, people can sense it when you walk by.

Cold fruit? I suppose I prefer my fruit cold, but I never really gave it too much thought. As for the rest -- curious, living in this world, avid reader, funny, kind... sounds like Ayelet. So I wrote him.

Subject: I liked Middlesex.

Actually, I only read the excerpt in The New Yorker, but I thought it was very well written. What kind of music are you snobby about? (Must confess I haven't heard of Johnston -- is he a jazz musician?)

He responded:

It's the best book I've read in 15 years.

I'm snobby about all music. Anything from classics like Van Morrison and Dylan and the Stones to college music like Yo la Tengo and Neutral Milk Hotel. Daniel Johnston is a schizophrenic, extremely troubled musician who might write and perform the truest music I've heard.

Your profile is very straightforward. I like that.

I have facial hair. Kids dig me. And what is casual passion???

In my profile, I mention that I'm not crazy about mustaches and beards; that's why he warned me about the facial hair.

Thanks for liking my profile ;) I had to make it as unambiguous as possible because I was getting tons of unwanted and inappropriate (i.e., old enough to be my father) contacts.

I love classic rock -- anything with good guitar. Clapton, Beatles, folk music, James Taylor, Simon & Garfunkel, Eagles, Johnny Cash. I also love Motown, especially Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Ray Charles, the Commodores, and the Temptations. But I'm not a snob. I absolutely LOVE Shakira, I love Billy Joel (Movin' Out, the musical, was a tour de force; I've never loved modern dance, but I had a fantastic time), and I think Weird Al Yankovic is a genius.

I probably know people who are Daniel Johnston fans -- I'm very involved in mental illness rights advocacy. I'll ask them.

How attached are you to that facial hair? ;) Some guys wear it well, but I have to say, there are a lot of guys on here who wear the most unattractive mustaches. It's just ooky. If you're not Tom Sellack, a mustache is almost always a mistake.

"Casual passion" is also known as "no-strings-attached" or casual sex. And sadly, I've gotten a lot of requests for it from guys on here. I block them and report them, but that's about all I can do -- aside from being completely upfront about NOT being up for it.

He was shocked.

Wow. I'm shocked. On THIS website!?! They know this is a site for (or used to be for) religious Jews, right? Good grief.

And ... Wow II. You might not admit it, but you're a music snob. And Motown, no less. Is someone feeding you these lines? I LOOOVE Motown. Aretha Franklin's "Say a Little Prayer" is one of my top 3 songs ever.

I'm attached to facial hair -- literally and otherwise -- for a couple of reasons. My job doesn't mind, so I think, halachically, I have to have at least some. I also think Jews should have facial hair. That's what we do. A clean shave is minhag hagoyim -- just my opinion, but I'm fussy like that. In any event, my beard doesn't get too much longer than it is in my profile photo (except during sefira and the Three Weeks).

Still blown away by your last paragraph. I love love love The City, but maybe there's an advantage to living in the midwest. That would NEVER happen here.

I decided not to point out that "Say a Little Prayer" was sung by Dionne Warwick, not Aretha.

Yes, Virginia, there are orthodox horn-dogs on this website. (Technically it now has non-frum as well as frum members, but the non-frum ones have never made me any indecent proposals.) I don't think it's a NYC phenomenon; those guys write me because I'm (at least theoretically, or in their dreams) locally available. But I'm sure it happens in other areas as well. It's a factor of modern life and the alienation of intimacy from sex.

I am NOT a music snob. How can a music snob LOVE Billy Joel and Celine Dion and LOATHE jazz? I am not a jazz fan. I'll go to a jazz club because it's a fun thing to do, but I won't pop in a jazz CD to while away the hours. I think it's boring. And how is Motown music snobbery? It's the music of the people! One of my favorite scenes from Blues Brothers is the music store performance, when Ray Charles whales out "Shake a Tailfeather" and the entire neighborhood dances. Don't tell me you're a Weird Al fan too -- that would be "a consummation/Devoutly to be wish'd."

Beards, as I said in my profile, are often tolerable. Your photo's still under review so I can't judge yet ;) It's really mustaches that I have a visceral distaste for. I always thought a clean shave was a litvishe minhag, not a non-Jewish minhag. Do you have peyes? Do you love to shop for bargains? If not, does that make you a shaigetz?

His response was a bit incoherent.

No peyes, love bargains. Either way, those aren't deal breakers. I think a beard is (btw, my photo is available).

I have no thoughts on Weird Al. I'm ... speechless.

A shaigetz!?!?

Sorry so short. On deadline. Good Shabbos!!!

I didn't really get it. But he's a journalist, and he got busy, so maybe that's why his response was so disjointed. I wrote back:

Weird Al is a brilliant cultural critic. He stays on top of every trend and satirizes brilliantly. He makes me laugh out loud, and that is a rare feat.

Now's probably not the time to mention how much I hate it when guys wear baseball caps in their profile pics... A beard is not a deal breaker. A mustache, maybe, but not a beard.

Let's play a little Jewish geography: do you know Joshua Meltzer or Sammy Berger?

Four days went by. He'd read the note. He hadn't responded, and I'd seen him on the site several times.

What did I do wrong? Was he so annoyed that I criticized guys who wear baseball caps in their profile pictures? (I just think it's misleading. You can't really see someone's hair when he's wearing a hat. If you're losing your hair, be honest about it.) That seems kind of petty. Then again, I'll never be shocked by the shallowness of petty men. Saddened, maybe, certainly disappointed, but never shocked.

Finally my curiosity got the better of me:

Hello again -- haven't heard back from you. Did I offend with my baseball cap quip? If so, I'm sorry; that was not my intention.

His rejoinder:

My skin is a little thicker than that (somewhere between armadillo and turtle).

Sorry I didn't get back to you. I'm "busy" with someone right now.

Best of luck, MO-M

Thanks for letting me know, dude.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

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