She peered through the wooden slats. They were there, dozens of them; young, and single, and eligible. Karen had always liked the sound of their Yeshiva, the boys who went there were supposed to be smart, and also independent. She'd been trying for months, to be introduced to someone, anyone, from there.
Karen liked the look of one boy in particular. He slung his jacket casually over his shoulder, and his Kippah perched at an angle on his head, as if he'd thrown it on without caring where it landed. His hair wasn't cut as short as usual for a Yeshiva student, and flicked up and out, in little waves. Karen was sure he must be fun, relaxed; not uptight like the boys she dated. His friends gathered round him, followed him from buffet to bar to dance floor. He was a leader. She liked that. If only she could go out with him. If only this wedding wasn't separate. He was but a few meters from her. It could have been an ocean.
She pushed the Mechitza slightly aside, widened the gap between the two wooden stands. She could be seen now, from the other side, from the men's side. The boys continued talking. She tried smiling. Nobody glanced her way. Karen wondered how secular girls got boys to talk to them. Making eyes, it was called. How did they do that? Should she try looking into his eyes, from afar? For one brief second, their eyes met, Karen's blue with the nameless boy's dusky hazel. But he didn't smile, his face stayed blank, he looked away, away from her, back at the circle of grinning boys.
Karen felt dirty somehow. As if she'd done something wrong. As if she was cheap. What was she trying to do? Everyone knew no good yeshiva boy would talk to a girl, if it wasn't a Shidduch date, if it wasn't prearranged. And no good girl would even look at a boy, it lacked all modesty.
Matches were for others to make, adults, teachers, strangers. She could only pray.
She turned around. The women were spinning in tight circles now. Girls pushed through clasped arms; always trying to be the fastest; always trying to be further inwards, closer to the center, to the bride.
"Are you engaged?"
A skinny girl stood beside her, swathed in black taffeta embedded with crystal beads. Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail though, frizzing at the front. She must be new to Shidduchim. She smiled as she asked the question, looking at Karen expectantly.
"No. I'm not" Karen said. The girl was a stranger.
"Oh, I thought that's why you were looking through the Mechitza."
Karen merely stared, shook her head.
"I thought that's the reason you were looking at the Yeshiva boys," The girl explained, "because one of them was your Chassan."
"No, I'm looking at the Yeshiva boys because I'm single." Karen said. "I'm single, and hence single Yeshiva boys are of interest to me."
She didn't care about the consequences, any longer. She was tired of this act.
4 days ago