Would you go on a date feeling sick? I don't mean sick at the sight of him, which isn't a good sign for future marital happiness, rather sick due to ghastly diseases like the common cold, and the flu.
The thing with dating is, there's no one to provide a sick leave note. The Shadchan is never happy, being asked to make another batch of piggy-in-the-middle phone calls, delaying the auspicious meeting to a latter occasion, to a time when you're hoping you won't feel like a clan of elephants are playing hockey in your head.
You feel sorry for the guy, too. Maybe the poor thing has already showered, and shaved, and now his efforts are going down the drain. He's going to have to make do with the 'company of sweaty guys' - as one boy described his roommates to me-instead of cavorting with a charming Shidduch Maidel.
The fears lurk, unspoken. What if he thinks I'm generally sickly? Not up to being a future baby machine? What if he doesn't believe it's 'only a 24 hour thing'?
Or what if he thinks I'm a hypochondriac, forever searching for excuses to cancel dates?
He could merely think I'm spoiled, coddled. Fleeing to the warmth and comfort of bed, orange juice, and chicken soup, instead of taking pain killers and braving the elements, like any sturdy, responsible, girl would do.
I'm in Shidduchim. I'm supposed to be perfect. Not a mere mortal.
I've tried it both ways. I've done the stiff upper lip thing, covering my red nose with foundation, and disguising pale cheeks with rouge, sucking Strepsils, and dosing myself with double strength Paracetemol, tucking a plastic bag into my purse, in case I throw up on the way, teetering off to the bus stop, grasping the railings for support as I walk.
I don't remember now what the reason was, why I didn't cancel. I do remember I had to go out with him a second time. Because how could I rely on my judgment of the first date? It had been impossible to distinguish which part of the nightmare was him, and which part was the flu. I was just glad I'd remained conscious.
I'll never forget an ill fated date, a couple of years back. Hopefully I'll forget eventually, when I'm happily married to the man of my dreams, but until then it haunts me. I thought I'd met the one. The only one, the right one. All was going hunky dory, until our fourth date.
I was so tired, lethargic, I didn't know why, I just wanted to curl up in bed, not talk to him. We spoke of the commonplace, standard conversations on Judaism and current affairs. As he walked me to the bus stop, I used up tissue after tissue on my wayward nose, trying valiantly to follow what he was saying, to reciprocate. When I got home I collapsed, discovered my temperature was sky high, realized I was probably coming down with something.
The next day, I was lying on the sofa with a pile of tissues scattered around, a mug of tea in my hand, when the phone rang.
"What are you doing home?" she asked
"Sick leave." I said
"Oh. Refuah shleimah. But listen, it's a no." the Shadchan said. "He doesn't feel the relationship is going anywhere."
I mumbled something back at her. A combination of flu and being dumped is a wonderful recipe for feeling sorry for yourself.
It didn't help, saying I'd been sick, suggesting trying again. His rabbi had told him by the fourth date he had to feel ready to marry the girl. And he wasn't ready to marry me. Love doesn't conquer all, I learned that day. Love can be conquered by a fever.
He can't have been my Besherte. He obviously isn't, since he's married with a kid by now. But I sometimes wonder, what would have been the outcome of that date, what would have been the progression of that relationship, if I'd actually arrived to it a person, and not a zombie.
So tonight, I'm not going anywhere. The floor is sparkling, roses peek out from the vase in the corner, but no man will be calling on me tonight. I'm wearing flannel pajamas and a sweatshirt, not the dress I ironed on Friday. Fuzzy slippers and not heels. I'm taking daters' sick leave.
5 hours ago