Engagement Jitters, Part I

Martin M. Bodek takes a humorous look at the ups and downs of the Jewish engaged life.

The Finish Line – You’ve finally found your bashert. You know this because you no longer call friends to ask them, “Where can I take her?” Instead, you just pick her up and head out with no itinerary in mind. You also know she’s the one because she’s still dating you. That’s always a good sign. Another good sign is that you e-mail each other throughout the day. E-mail is love.

The Permission Request – Now you gotta ask her daddy for permission. This is scary, very scary. And her father won’t help either. He’ll make you squirm. He’ll amuse himself at your expense. He’ll say “no.” You will take him seriously. He’ll have more fun with that. Finally, he’ll say “Let me think about it.” You will squirm some more. Here’s a hint to make things easier: Get cheesy with sentences like “I really think highly of your daughter.” This will make him squirm and he will give in immediately. You now have the green light.

The Proposal – You will go out of your mind trying to think of a clever way to propose to your maidele. You will think up nothing original. Finally, you’ll concoct the one thing that is most publicly embarrassing for her. You will be amused, she will not. She’ll forgive you because girls are like that. However, you will be reminded 7 1/2 years later. Immediately after she says “Yes,” you will make a series of phone calls to all of your friends. During these phone calls, you may experience a salty discharge from your eyes. These are called tears. I know, it’s a new experience, but get used to it during your engagement period. You call crying during national anthem renditions at the Olympics the height of emotion? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

The Vort – Time to introduce the world to your kallah. This will not be easy, because old friends will show up whose names you don’t remember. This will make introductions very difficult (“Shprintzy, this is uh, this is, um, oh, his screen name is SuperMacher007.”) During your vort, you will experience a lot of facial pain. This is because you’ve given yourself a facelift by smiling all night. You will also experience every manner of handshake possible: The Dead Fish (uch!), the Crusher (ouch!), the Clammy (yuck!), the C’mere-Boy-and-Let-Me-Slap-A-Slobbery-Kiss-On-Ya (Gevalt!). You will call in sick the next day, bedridden because of all the new bacteria introduced into your system.

The Gifts – You will spend considerable time opening gifts with your kallah. None of what you open will be recognizable to you except for the silver stuff that you’re used to seeing in people’s breakfronts. The rest of the stuff will resemble miniature medieval torture devices. Some will resemble full-scale medieval torture devices. You will tremble as you open these. Your kallah will not, as she knows it’s just kitchenware and there’s nothing to be scared of. Still, whimpering for mommy will cause your kallah to give in and open a registry at a major department store to give you an opportunity to get some tools. But it’s all in vain really, since no one will get them for you.

The Registry – Registering for gifts is the most fun you’ll ever have doing something you’d much rather not be doing. It is a couple’s way of saying to their friends, “We want this, can you get it for us please?” To make things fun for you, you’ll get this gun with like a laser sight and you’ll go pow pow bam bam on all the items you want. Basically, you become a Batman episode, complete with hokey sound effects.

The Car Service – You will suddenly find yourself ferrying your kallah and/or your mommy and/or your future mother-in-law (There’s got to be a shorter word for that!) to various places where you’re not allowed to enter. Some places may allowed you entry, but you’ll run screaming when the florist starts saying words like amaryllis and hydrangea and Queen Anne’s lace, when before the extent of your floral knowledge was that roses were red and violets were blue. You benefit though, because when you’re finally back in the safety of your car, you can memorize the words for future games of Scrabble.

The Pot-belly – You will soon notice that your midriff is starting to expand. This is due in some part to sitting in the car all day waiting for your kallah/ma/future shviger to come out. There’s only so much calories you can burn by exercising your thumb on a PDA all day. You will ask you’re kallah if you’re gaining weight, she will say no. At some point, your kallah might ask you the same question, you will say no. In a Jewish relationship, if one spouse fibs to another it’s considered being dishonest, but when both spouses fib to each other, ahhhhh, now that’s Sholom Bayis!

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