Monday, August 22, 2011

Jacob da Shlepper

When Jacob and I were making plans to meet, he tried to convince me to meet during the week. But I'm still too drained after starting my day at 6:45 a.m. Somewhat reluctantly, he agreed to meet me on a Sunday.

"I'll take the train in from Jersey and take a subway from Penn Station," he said. Fine. Whatever.

I took some care with my appearance, even though I wore a t-shirt and casual skirt. Because I wanted to look nice. I told him I'd be wearing red, so I did. Red skirt, red lipstick, mascara, nice earrings, etc.

While browsing near the entrance of Barnes & Noble, I noticed a chubby shlepper in a Yankees cap walk in. I looked down, kind of hoping he wasn't my date. My phone rang, I turned, and there he was. Unshaven. Carrying a very large piece of luggage -- looked like the offspring of a backpack and a duffel bag. His hair -- what there was of it -- was disheveled under the cap.

I realize he just got off the train and the subway. But jeez Louise, he couldn't SHAVE? That's the first impression you want to make? Trust me, he's no Don Johnson. Scruff wasn't a good look for him. Although the portion of his facial skin not covered with stubble looked somewhat pitted and cratered, so maybe he thought, "Better stubble than acne."

I'll grant I'm not looking my hottttttest these days. When Jacob entered the store, I was the only person in there wearing red, and he still made that phone call -- so I'm assuming he wasn't thrilled with the way I look either. But at least I took some care to look nice.

Still, I've been told I'm too judgmental, so I set his looks aside and waited for him to wow me with his personality.

Which he did. Not in a good way.

I hate being interrupted. Hate it, hate it, hate it. And he's an interrupter. Not just an interrupter -- he's a know-it-all interrupter. We started paging through coffee-table books. One of them juxtaposed photos of Central Park from decades (or more than a century) ago with modern photos. He began pontificating about what was shown in the photos. And frequently, he was wrong.

At first I tried correcting him -- when I could get a word in -- but then I realized that was pointless. Men do not like being told they're wrong, and probably won't believe you without proof. So I stopped arguing.

We picked up a book showing different Marvel comic characters, including Spider-Man -- Jacob's childhood hero.

"I always wanted to be Spider-Man," he said.

"Are you going to see 'Turn Out the Dark'?" I asked.

"No," he said.

"Because of the bad advance notices?" I asked.

"No, it's not that. Sephardim don't really go to live music performances."

This was news to me. "Why not?" I asked.

"Because of the churban," he said. I.e., the destruction of the Temple.

"Really?" I asked. "What about the symphony, or the opera?"

"Nope," he said.

That seems awfully constraining. I know other Sephardim, and I'd never heard that they didn't go to live music performances. Another point against JdS.

Jacob suggested we get a drink in the Starbucks. I agreed, since my knees were already starting to ache from standing around waiting for him and then with him flipping through books.

"I don't know about the hechsher," he said, "so I'll just get an iced tea." I don't keep chalav yisrael, and I'm not eager to start. I got a decaf iced latte.

We sat and chatted. It wasn't terrible. He talked about his family and his studies in a yeshiva in Israel.

"I spent one Shabbat in Manhattan, and it wasn't really like Shabbat," he said. "You go to shul, and then when you go outside it's business as usual. In Jerusalem, in the Old City, you go outside and you know it's Shabbat."

"What about in Brooklyn?" I asked. "It's business as usual there too."

"Yeah, but there I'm with my family," he said. "You know, I don't really like being anywhere except Brooklyn, New Jersey, and Israel."

"You don't like to travel?" I asked.

"I know girls always say, 'Oh, I love to travel!'" he declared, in a mocking falsetto. "But I don't really want to go anywhere."

"Not Paris?" I asked. I don't languish dreaming of Paris, but I would like to see the Louvre and Versailles.

He grimaced and snorted derisively. "Maybe some parts of Italy, like where the Sephardim lived. And I know the food's good there. And Alaska, because I hear it's really beautiful."

"I went to Alaska a few years ago," I said, wondering when he was going to ask me a question about myself. Thought this was a good opening.

Apparently not "But otherwise -- nah, there's nowhere else I really want to go," he said.

You can take the boy out of Brooklyn... I tried to discuss some other things with him, but thinking about the conversation now, I realize there wasn't much discussion. He stated how things were supposed to be, and if they weren't, well, they should be.

I finally told him I needed to get home, and he offered to walk me. I don't live very far from Barnes & Noble. But he was huffing and puffing beside me all the way.

Nobody is perfect. I'm definitely not perfect. But is this all that's left for me? A man who doesn't listen, won't travel, and apparently can't shave on the weekends?

Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"


  1. Syrians are extremely insular. I think they make chassidim look worldly.

  2. Dat lousy cheap mutha-shleppa. Do guys not pay for a meal anymore on a blind date, or is it just this loser? Is it the destruction of the Temple that precludes him from doing so?

  3. Do you think the frummer people are, the frumpier they are? It seems like you have dated Jews across the spectrum. Do you thinkt hat the more secular they are, the more you might have a common base -religious observances aside? It seems like the guys you have gone on dates with who are pretty observant, but seem somewhat socially retarded - moreso than those who are less observant.

  4. Not all Syrians are so insular that they don't listen to live music. I think that's almost indicative of his personality. He just doesn't like to go out and do things, whether it's traveling or attending a performance. And it's fairly common to just have coffee on a first date. Sometimes that's preferable. If I don't like someone, and I know fairly quickly, then it kind of sucks to have to wait around for the check in order to end the date.

    What I didn't like was JdS's lackadaisical approach to grooming. It said to me that he really didn't care what I thought of him. And I don't think it's necessarily a frum/py thing. I know plenty of modern orthodox men who actually shave before dates. Also, I hate to say this, but plenty of non-religious men are also socially stunted. I don't know if it's worse among non-religious or religious men, but I hear bad dating stories from Orthodox, non-Orthodox, and non-Jewish women all the time.

  5. Definitely not for you.

    But is this all that's left for me?

    No, what's left for you is waiting for a better match, someone you WANT to be with.

    You definitely shouldn't be with someone you don't really want spend time with. Single life may not be ideal, but life with someone whose company you don't enjoy would be worse.

  6. Sephardi man Sephardi man
    Does whatever a Sephardi can
    No musicals, travel's bad
    Stays at home with his Mom and Dad
    Brooklyn -- and Jersey for Sephardi man.