Jewish Dating Jitters

Martin Bodek takes a humorous looks at the dating rituals surrounding going on a shiduch date- it’s not as simple as just showing up.


The Call: Here is where it all begins, you have to call. Mind you, we never call at the right time. After putting you on hold, you start talking. Now you need to come up with a phone manner. You try to sound smooth yet aidel, bold yet sweet. It never works, in the end you act like yourself (which is how you should act anyway). You both finally decide on a date for the date and you start psyching yourself up.

The Shave: This comes first. It takes about a half hour. Minimum. You shave for fifteen minutes, making sure your chin is as bald as Gandhi’s head. Of course, you never get every spot, so you call your Rebbi to see if he found a heter for razors yet. He always says “no” so you continue shaving. A half hour later you’re done, so you take a comfy shower, brush your teeth, and freshen your breath.

The Breath Test: You ask your sister how your breath smells, so you expel everything you’ve got in your lungs into her face. She always says (after grimacing) “no good.” So you try a different mouthwash and repeat the lung exhalation procedure. she says “no good.” After 8 mouthwashes you smell like a toothpaste bomb and suddenly you don’t care about your sister’s opinion. You think that your breath will fade anyway by the time your pick up the girl, so you don’t much care.

The Cologne: You have no idea how this is applied, but some idiot friend convinced you that you gotta wear it. So you go raid your father’s cabinet looking for something that’ll do. You find something that’ll be just about right. You screw off the lid and pour it all over yourself. Suddenly you realize (due to the overpowering stench) that this is not how you put on cologne, so you wash and scrub the stuff off and reapply a new one. It gets in your eyes, so you wash it out and reapply. In the end, you smell like a Chernobyl perfume factory. You think that the smell will fade anyway by the time you pick up the girl, so you don’t much care.

Leaving: You make it to the front door and suddenly your mother is picking lint off your suit, your sister is straightening your tie, and your father is laughing his brains out, tossing anecdotes of his dating experiences at you while you’re being primped on the bochur-on-a-date assembly line. Your mother tells you that you missed a spot shaving, so you run back in and retrieve the shaver. The family finally lets you go.

The Drive: After plopping the shaver in the glove compartment, you drive carefully, distractedly, worriedly. To get your mind at ease, you play your favorite song LOUD (mine is “Sharp dressed man”) to psyche you up. No matter what, you always get there 15 minutes early, so you park about 2 blocks away and flip through the radio dials. Finally, it’s 2 minutes to your scheduled arrival. You spruce up your face with the shaver, pull out of your spot, and rumble up to the girl’s house.

The Arrival: As soon as you get to the front of the house, you have to act quickly. This is because the girl’s mother is watching you between the shutters. You suddenly realize that your breath is still kooky and your cologne is still funky. NOW you care, but there’s nothing you can do about it, because mom is watching you, and you have to MOVE. So you hop out of the car, gingerly step up to the doorstep and put your finger on the buzzer. The door suddenly swings open as if you said, “Open sesame” instead of actually ringing the bell. This happens because of the mother-father-door-opening system. The mother, who’s watching your every move from between the slats, signals to her husband that you’re here, the father then places his hand on the knob and twists the millisecond your finger touches his bell. His reaction time is quicker than Michael Johnson’s out of the box. Boys know this, it is the only pre-date procedure that the girl’s family does that we are aware of.

The Interview: That’s what it is, an interview, the family sits you down and grills you (albeit gently). But it doesn’t last long, because sooner or later the mother disappears, and the girl appears. The moment the girl emerges, all confidence is shot straight to dust. “Do I look good?” “Am I worthy?” “Will she like me?” The girl always looks like a million bucks, while you’ve just hastily run from the car to the house with no preparation time in between. You feel honored to spend an evening with a lady.

Opening the Door: This is the strangest dating procedure known to man. You don’t know whether to open the door and let her close it herself (because of tznius) or if you should be a chivalrous mensch and close the door for her. Either way, you always think that what you’ve done is not what she wanted. So while you’re crossing the back of the car, this is what you ponder.

Crossing the Back of the Car: This is where time stops for bochurim. This is where you form opinions about the girl, determine whether you’ve acted like a mensch, and worry about the girl’s opinion of you. It is the longest part of the date, because it lasts for an eternity. You finally slo-mo into your seat, and you’re on your way.

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