The guys I date get names. Names I use with my friends, and my family. Names they don't know about. I can never remember their real names, the Avrahams and Dovids, the Levys and Rosenbergs. I don't even try. Instead they become "the poet", "the love letter guy", "the creepy one", and so on. Sometimes they get automatic and simple names, based on the places they study- "the Hebrew U." guy, "The Machon Lev" guy, the [insert name of yeshiva here] guy.
This guy became the "Photo guy". I didn't go out with him. Instead I heard about him, heard at length of his merits and vital statistics and why he was a perfect match for me. His neighbors told me, his friends in yeshiva told me, and my friends from Seminary told me. They all thought we should go out. It was a match made in heaven.
One person however, disagreed. The boy himself. He'd seen my photo, you see. I was surprised by his reaction. Granted, no one would call me beautiful, aside for doting relatives and men making moves. I'm also not particularly photogenic, with a crooked smile, and a tendency to close my eyes when the camera flashes. Still, ugly I'm not. Surely passable enough to merit a first date?
Through the grapevine the details reached me. Someone had shown him a photograph of me on a hike, while in seminary. I haven't seen the infamous picture myself, but I can imagine it. Baggy T shirt and oldest skirt, hair in a straggly ponytail, glasses, no makeup, rivulets of sweat trailing down unmentionable parts of me. Arms around a best friend, perched on a boulder, smiling blissfully into the camera, unaware of what havoc this image would cause in half a decade.
Later they tried to rectify the mistake. They showed him wedding pictures, vacation pictures. Pictures taken five years of shopping and grooming later. Pictures taken once I was aware of the Shidduch scene I'm a part of, and the perfect image I need to present to the world at all times.
But the damage was done. The hike photo was seared into his mind, too terrifying to dismiss. He refused to meet me.
In between us they cajoled and persuaded, to no avail.
Until last week. Someone, somewhere, somehow, convinced Photo guy to check me out in person.
"Who's the date with?" My sister asks.
"The boy who thinks I'm ugly.You know, the photo guy."
"Oh, him." She remembers him. The name has stuck, months later. "Go for it girl. Knock him out."
I wear a designer suit, imported from Europe. Dressier than I usually like for dates, but if he wants style he's going to get it in bucketfuls. I risk heels, despite not knowing his height. For once I leave from home, not work, giving me the chance to soak in a long hot bath, before rubbing in yummy smelling lotions and creams, and carefully applying makeup. When I look in the mirror in the hotel bathroom, I'm pleased with what I see.
I don't know if I knocked him out, but he does want a second date. I'm satisfied. My pride is assuaged. Now I'm biting back the temptation to ask him if I look like my picture.
4 days ago