Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Chapter 14: Her Virtual World

"She should be Tznius, and have Yirat Shamayim, and encourage me to excel spiritually, and push me to learn torah"

Karen closed the tab. It sounded like he was looking for a rabbi, not a wife.

"Looking for a chilled girl, who likes to have fun, and enjoys a good movie"

She closed that tab too. He sounded like he wanted a permanent version of a girl friend, a party girl.

It was funny; really she was all those things they'd described. Really she was Tznius, and did work on her faith, and also did like to chill and have fun sometimes. But the guys who said they were looking for that in a wife; that warned her off them. She supposed it was a question of priorities. They were showing what was most important to them. And what they didn't care about, not that much.

Karen had it figured out by now, how to read between the lines, how to sort the wheat from the chaff.

She had a method, how to search their profiles, how to skim descriptions, picking out key words, learning all she needed to know from a few phrases. She had tactics, techniques for initiating contact, for responding to messages.

Here at least, at last, in this virtual dating world, she could instill order.
True, she'd never actually gone out with any of them, met them in real life. It always remained in the realms of the website; messages and chats and photos exchanged, a burst of enthusiasm. Eventually petering out, once the exotic stranger had turned into a known mundanity.

She had never met any of them, face to face, voice blending into voice. It was only words, cold black and white on the screen, laid out in rows. She could reply in her own time, at her own pace. She could sit at the keyboard, in Teddy bear pajamas, with moisturizer smeared in generous dollops on her face, wet hair wrapped up in a towel, and formulate the most appropriate response. So much easier than a date.

She knew it was unusual. She knew some would call it weird. She hid it, from them all, this new pastime she had.

She let them continue pestering matchmakers, and turning the world upside down in order to find boys for her to meet. She didn't stop the Shidduch inquiries, and webs of phone calls, between mothers and boys and rabbis and her, all to set up yet another stilted date. She went on the dates, she went along with it. Hopefully shed meet the right man, her future beloved, on one of them.

But every night, when she got home, she'd check her online dating account's inbox. This she could do herself, without asking for help. This was her backup plan.


  1. Such a sad system she has.
    I think most men write what they think will get them a lot of dates.
    Many yeshivishe girls want a religious husband, so they write about modest wife.
    To me, women seem more interested in having fun then men, so writing about having a partner to have fun with will get him a lot of nibbles.
    They figure that if they increase the stream of prospective matches, they increase the likelihood that they'll meet someone that they are actually interested in.

    I think those character profiles are almost entirely worthless.

    (By the way, from a literary standpoint, "how to sort the wheat from the chaff" might be 'gold', but reading those words caused an intense viceral reaction to me.)

  2. alarbean, reading a literary critique that misspells "visceral", causes an visceral and a noetic reaction to me.

  3. *a visceral

    oops :)

    (still disagree with most of the rest of your comment though)

  4. Anonymous,

    Spelling isn't my forte. It's okay for you to point out issues with my spelling. I'm sure if you looked closely enough you'd find grammatical issues with my sentences as well.
    I'm sorry I've caused you a negative reaction.

    My issue with the idea of separating the wheat from the chaff is it dehumanizes people. Even if you conclude that someone isn't for you, that doesn't mean that that someone isn't perfect for someone else. Calling that person "chaff" doesn't feel right.

    What else did you disagree with from my comment?

  5. Alarbean, I agree with what you say about calling people "chaff". But I'm trying to get inside Karen's head, and she feels differently!

  6. Frum N' Flipping,

    As someone who has tried to faithfully record the words that the characters in my mind use, I completely understand what you mean.

    I seem to have offended Anonymous, but I wasn't trying for that. I think your writing is a gift.