Monday, April 19, 2010

Chapter 22: The Women's Side

Shulamit wished she had a notepad with her, or even a scrap of paper. She loved the line, simple and flowing. She loved the fabric, matte silver lace. She itched to draw it.

The girl wore it well; her blonde hair was cut in one clean line, and lay on her shoulders, in bright contrast to the muted lace. The girl had poise, a certain sophistication in her stance, as if she knew it all already, and there was nothing new you could tell her.

Shulamit hesitated. Something about the girl looked too perfect, intimidating. Confident people scared her. But she had to know where that dress was from. She picked up a last cookie from the buffet table, and moved purposely towards where the blonde girl in the beautiful dress was standing, by the Mechitza.

Karen wanted to cry, from the sheer disappointment. She had spent weeks, getting ready for Sara Leah's wedding. First the dress, which she'd spotted in a window on Betzalel street, spent a solid chunk of salary on. Then finding the right shoes, a matching bag. Then the hour applying makeup, the rushed trip to the hairdresser after work.

She really thought she was at her best. And all for what? It was wasted, effort down the drain. Separate by a wooden partition, ignored entirely by all men.
The most she could hope for was to find favor in a woman's eyes. A mother of a boy, an aunt of a boy; if one of the matriarchal women here approved of Karen, there was hope they'd later try to set her up
Then Karen felt a tap on her shoulder. She spun around.

"Hi," a girl she didn't know was saying, "Can I ask you a question?"
Two girls sit next to each other on the playground's monkey bars.

"What's your name?"
"How old are you?"
"What's your favorite color?"

Two girls stand next to each other at a wedding.
The questions change. So do the answers.

"Where is your dress from?"
"Where did you go to Seminary?"
"What do you do now?"

The dialogue is more subtle. The dynamics remain the same. Two girls, strangers before, become friends.

Except the end result is no longer "Do you want to come to my house to play?"

These days the conversation can only have one conclusion. "What are you looking for?"

Pieces slot into place. It was meant to be, that Shulamit meet Karen tonight.

Shulamit saw that now. Because Daniel would be perfect for Karen. And Karen would be perfect for him. Shulamit could make another match.


  1. Well written, but I admit that it saddens me (and you portray it well) that in today's society, just *looking* at someone (their hair... their dress...) is enough to determine who is their "perfect" match.
    What about personality? Middos? DERECH ERETZ?

  2. I've noticed a recurring trend in your stories . . . automatic distrust of seeming confidence.

    I would find it admirable, for instance, if a girl like Karen entered a room on her own and did not feel a burning need to be flanked by another.

    As for Karen's shock - she's awfully new to the game, no? It's never about seeing the boys - or the boys seeing you - it's about connections. And women are connections.

  3. Troi- Yeah there is a recurring theme between this chapter, and the Pesach story. What happened is I started writing this chapter before Pesach, and it probably gave me the idea for the other story.

    I think it's wishful thinking on Karen's part. She's an old hand at the game.