One of the most common questions that a single man or woman is faced with is: “Are you dating anyone?” The problem is not the question; it’s to be expected considering that most family members and friends are fondly known as yentas. They need to know everything! It’s tradition. Barbara Streisand played one on a couple of occasions such as in Hello, Dolly and then there is my quintessential favorite-Yentl on Fiddler on the Roof. The problem is, how are you going to answer the question? The answer determines how you are going to be assessed by your interrogator. You can be evasive, which just exacerbates the issue; you can be passive, which kind of does the same thing; or, you can be assertive with a touch of humor so you can be left alone. I am not saying this is a permanent remedy; there is no such thing as a permanent cure for a yenta, but this just seems to temporarily get rid of the symptom on that occasion.
What I have personally come to answer these yentas is, “I am still shopping.” It’s not like saying, “I haven’t found anyone yet” or “I am waiting for the right one.” I make a humorous statement that amuses. Moreover, it even shows that I am being proactive about the whole thing! Certainly because I am a woman, it’s a fitting activity, but since we live in a time where Queer Eye for the Straight Guy rules the airways, I believe that even men can get away with making this statement without blemishing the good old reputation.
Truthfully, I believe it’s the perfect metaphor for what we are all trying to do. Like traditional shopping, we try different people on to see on they fit. Sometimes the person looks good from far away (on the hanger) but not with you (when you try something on). Sometimes you bring him/her home and the parents (usually mothers) say he/she is not right for you so you break up (aka “the return”). Sometimes you think you’ve found the one�you are so close only to find out that it’s not-which I’ve dubbed “the cheap knock off syndrome.” I would like to emphasize that in the case of marriage you should never, ever settle for a fake when your real bashert is still out there. You should be shopping on 5th Ave for your bashert and not a bargain basement store. This is the most important decision of your life. (This will ultimately lead to other problems as little things that you thought were cute in the dating phase somehow become annoyances that you can’t tolerate.) And clearly, finding the right outfit is just as difficult as finding the one; that’s why every once in a while we get help from a personal shopper (aka the shadchan). I realize that we don’t always want to use them because they themselves are yentas but sometimes help is really just necessary.
I assure you that I am not rambling on aimlessly. In fact, your interrogator will probably address you differently at your next meeting. Instead of asking about whom you’re dating, expect “how’s the shopping” (with a smile), which truly is a less annoying question. As long as they can stick with your humorous approach it’s ok. There is light at the end of the tunnel and much less pressure. I do believe, like finding the perfect dress, I’ll just know�that’s the same process with finding a match. It just doesn’t always jump out at you that easily so the shopping must continue. Until that time when I find that perfect match I remain single and shopping�
About The Author
Sarah J. Pollack is single and living in Manhattan. “Single in the City” is her compilations of the frustrations of Jewish singles in the community.