Sunday, August 12, 2007

Mission accomplished

Not that I met the man of my dreams -- at least I don't think I did; if I did, he's playing his cards very close to the chest -- but I had an amazing Shabbat. I met tons of wonderful people; I haven't spent much time in this particular suburban enclave, but my hosts were beyond gracious and lovely. They picked me up at the train station, gave me my own room and bathroom, and treated me like an honored guest. Everyone was very friendly and supportive, the food was beyond delicious, the Scotch was at minimum 15 years old, the weather was sublime, and I made a number of terrific new girlfriends.

I joked with a few people that I go to singles events to meet women, not men. I've made a number of good female friends at these events, and this one was no exception. I knew that as the oldest girl at the party, the number of men who'd be interested in me might be limited. By expecting only to have fun and mingle, I enjoyed myself exceedingly. I also got to spend time with a few friends that I didn't know would be at the shabbaton, which was an unexpected bonus.

The shabbaton was small and intimate -- fewer than 100 men and women. We had small meals at our hosts' homes, mixing together a few guys and girls, and we also spent time together as a group, at davening, shalosh seudos, a shiur, and a pizza party on Saturday night. I suggested a match to a gentleman and lady I knew before the shabbaton, who were both at lunch with me, and they spent some time getting to know each other. Here's hoping! I also met a nice young guy that I'm going to introduce to sweet Simcha.

At the pizza party I tried to be a wingman. Rafaella is a sweet young lady who wasn't officially on the shabbaton but lives in town, so I met her over the course of Shabbat. At the party I introduced her to the guys she thought were cute. I had to leave just as I'd connected her with the last of them, but I'm hoping to hear good news -- they were talking and smiling as I left ;)

I'm pretty proud of how I acquainted them. The target (and his friend) were standing near the refreshment table; they hadn't been at the shabbaton but came to the pizza party, which was open to anyone with $10. I didn't know either of the guys, and neither did Rafaella.

"How are we going to meet them?" she asked.

"They're standing near the snacks. I'll go get one and introduce myself, then you."

"You can't do that!" she exclaimed, aghast.

"Watch me," I said. I walked up, took a pretzel, and introduced myself to the guys. I chatted them up for a few minutes, then Rafaella strolled up casually and I introduced her to him.

I also met a really hilarious character during Shabbat, a real estate agent who moonlights as a shadchan. I've seen him a bunch of times on a dating website we both frequent; he's supposed to get back to me with some eligible possibilities. (Since he's checked out my profile several times, and we're not right for each other, he must know enough about me to promote me to other fellas.)

It was interesting seeing in person so many guys whose profiles I've seen on dating websites. Some of them have obviously put up the best picture they have ever taken. "Is that really so-and-so?" I would wonder. "His head looks so much smaller in real life" or "He's really lost a lot of hair/gained so much weight since that picture was taken!" If a picture is worth a thousand words, real life is worth a million pictures. It's funny -- I always think I'm much prettier in real life than in any photo of me; I suppose the opposite is often also true.

It was a little intimidating spending time in the stately mansions where most of the hosts reside. My hosts' house dwarfs Jerusha's, which I thought was pretty big and fancy. It's meticulously decorated but not at all pretentious; for example, the living room right off the foyer has 500 pictures of their children on the walls and a big ping-pong table.

My hostess is a former accountant who now dabbles in interior design -- she's got tremendous attention to detail, an indispensable element of both professions -- and the host is part owner of a major league baseball team. Not the usual crowd I hobnob with. But they were so friendly and down-to-earth. I felt completely comfortable shmoozing with them, and they were so gracious and interested in my life and goals. They included me as an equal; when some of their friends dropped by Friday evening after dinner to visit and chat, they included me completely in the conversation and really listened to what I had to say.

[I was intrigued to learn that a number of the frum married ladies are apparently carrying on with a Latino personal trainer at their gym, who encourages them to get tons of plastic surgery interventions; now they all look like a bunch of Stepford Wives with enormous breasts and lips bursting with collagen. (Not my hostess, of course -- her husband is what they call a "Silver Fox.") I know loshon hora is a tremendous aveira -- probably why it's one of my favorite sins -- but it was tremendous fun to listen to. Since I didn't meet the ladies in question, I hope I'm more or less off the hook for listening to the rundown.]

I also got to learn about how not to present myself from another attendee. The Gunner is a nice guy who just talks way too much, way too fast, and way too loud. He's not a law student -- ironically, he's a psychology professor and researcher who seems to have no insight into his own behavior or how he appears to others. (Reminds me of a certain Dr. Jerk, although this guy at least means well.) One of his online behavior studies had been picked up by the popular news media, and he was being quoted and written about in a number of newspapers, magazines, and websites.

And we heard all about it. The Gunner dominated every conversation, every Shabbos table, every shiur. No one could get in a word; he even delayed the conclusion of every meal because he hadn't finished holding forth. People were talking about him, and not in a good way. "Nebuch," they'd say. "He's a nice guy, but he's so annoying. Someone should talk to him about the impression he's making."

In some ways I understand and identify with The Gunner. He's a very bright guy with tons of specialized knowledge that he loves to share. But he overdid it. He tried too hard, and instead of winning friends and influencing people, he alienated everyone. Which is a real shame. I tried to learn from him -- to listen more than I spoke, and to limit my discourses on esoteric topics. I think it worked; people seemed to like me fairly well.

It was a terrific break from the Upper West Side. I had fun, I relaxed, I even got a ride home! Can't ask for anything more. And if two of the matches I facilitated lead to marriage, I'm set for afterlife. My first match was Alona and Adir; I gave Alona the website where she found Adir's profile, briefed and debriefed her before and after every date, and generally supported her through the courtship and engagement (and of course continue to do so).

It's rumored that a person who facilitates three marriages gets into heaven automatically. If two of my weekend matches work out, I can be as bad as I want for the rest of my life ;)
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

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