Solely In Black and White: February 2010

Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Purim Request

I hope this post finds you all in good spirits. No, I am not drunk yet. Yes, this post is serious.

Purim has the potential to be a very powerful day. The things that can be accomplished are nearly endless. I hope the last post didn’t give you an impression otherwise. Purim is a lot more than just getting drunk.

If I humbly may, can I ask of you a favor? When you daven/ learn/ or say tehillim today, can you please ask Hashem to help all the singles in Klal Yisrael (including your fellow bloggers and commenters) to find their match soon and without any pain?

Generally, I try not to ask favors of people unless I deem them to be necessary or very important. Obviously, I deem this request necessary and hope you feel the same way.

Thanks.

Sincerely,

SiBW

A Freilichen Purim!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Purim and the Dangers of Drinking

As I am sure you're all well aware, Purim is almost here. If not, what exactly are you doing reading this? Anyway, no matter how you slice it Purim is just awesome! Oh, and I am so excited.


When I first started dating I wondered if the whole “being in shidduchim” thing would influence my Purim festivities. You know the things like being on your best behavior at all times, making a good impression on strangers, and only going out in public when you are presentable. Who knows, maybe you can wear the wrong costume and be blacklisted by a shadchan (specific examples come to mind, but I’ll wait and see what fun ones I see this year, please feel free to do the same in your comments).


But Purim is fun. It’s the one day a year you can be clown, literally. Not only that, it’s the one day a year that you can get drunk in the name of all that is good. How cool is that? It almost like getting paid to be an ice cream taste tester, only here you can choose the hours. Just for the record I am not advocating complete drunkenness, underage drinking, or any other activity which can either be classified as hazardous, illegal, or against the wishes of the LOR (local orthodox rabbis). Nonetheless, if your find yourself single this Purim, enjoy it to its fullest. From what I hear from my married compadres, Purim just isn’t the same. ;)


So as per the dangers of drinking and dating I shall give you a fair warning. If you do get drunk, avoid the shadchunim. Okay, that sounds funny, but this is a real life lesson. I don’t remember, but I have been told that during my Purim expeditions last year I may have met a one. Not only don’t I remember this, but I can't recall the conversation that I supposedly had either. I think everything worked out fine though, because: 1) I have been told that I am pleasant and polite even when drunk 2) it’s not like a shadchan couldn’t dig up your secrets anyway 3) being honest with a shadchan can sometimes go a long way 4) I guess the experience couldn’t have been too bad, she called after Purim to redt some names. In retrospect the story is funny, albeit slightly disconcerting, but funny.


So if you plan on getting inebriated this holiday season, choose your routes carefully, use a designated driver/walker/shomer, and have loads of fun.


Wishing you all an Amazing, Awesome, and Freilichin Purim.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The First Date Project: Part 4

The Drop Off:
The first objective is to slowly pull up near the girl’s house. The best solution I have come up with is to pull over, put the car in park, and immediately shut off the engine. This should send a very clear message that I intend on walking my date to the door. Now if the girl starts the goodnight speech while still in the car, I politely interrupt her and say something like, “oh, I’ll walk you to the door.” I can only think of two occasions where my offer was declined, but in most cases this has worked.

Making conversation at this point can be tricky. You can’t broach a new subject and if the previous topic is going downhill you have to get creative to extend it. The worst situation is when you’re standing right by the doorstep and you’re still smack in middle of a good conversation. While standing there and conversing for a while might be an option, it can lead to other issues, such as frostbite, loitering charges, and gawking neighbors.

Although the walk to the door may be awkward, saying goodnight while standing face-to-face is much more pleasant and meaningful than saying adieu hastily in the car. It's nice when a girl says she had a nice time, but I realize that some people aren’t comfortable being so forthright after a first date. I know I wouldn’t. The oddest thing is when a date goes sour and girl still says “I had a nice time.” My first reaction to that was “what was she thinking?” Later on I realized that even if the statement is completely untrue, it’s still a nice illustration of appreciation, but completely unnecessary.

In most cases, by the time I get back to the car the girl is already in the house. In the event that she is not, I will wait until she gets in, and then speed off.

The Decision:
I used to fret about the decision making process after a first date. I think I have outgrown that issue. If it’s a no, then it’s a no. If it’s a maybe or yes, then it’s a yes. Simple as that. I should point out that I am a big fan of the “One and Done.” Okay, that might be an understatement, I am proud board-member and strong advocate of the One and Done. If it’s not going to work, end it right away. I am happy to report that I have had the pleasure of briefly meeting a few like minded girls, obviously only once.

Now for the part I dread. Dealing with the shadchan. No matter how the date went that phone call is always so annoying. The conversation is never quite as simple as just yes or no.

A Final Note:
In case you haven’t noticed, I left out the whole “elevator look/checking out” thing. The reason for this being is that I don’t do it. It’s creepy and it doesn’t accomplish much. If need be, I prefer to do my checking methodically and surreptitiously. This usually just happens by osmosis, no conscious thoughts necessary. This has been so effective for me that I can recall most of the visual elements my date has worn (such as outfit, shoes, makeup, nail polish, jewelry, and sleeve and skirt length, just to name a few). It seems that after a few days this info is automatically purged from memory.

I would like to end off on this note: to the girls who put effort into wearing nice attire and partaking in the beautifying (beatification) process, your efforts are not going unnoticed.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Top Ten “unofficial” Rules you Might be Breaking on a Date

(Here it is as promised. Please note: they are not exactly ground breaking and have been covered to some extent on other blogs)

Do not...

1. Arrive either Early or Late

  • Who on earth would be early for a date?!? This is still beyond me, but I have heard this can happen accidentally. Now as for late… I might know a few people.

2. Stay out too Long or too Short

  • The rules specifically state that you must be back by some archaic and arbitrarily decided time, no exceptions.

3. Monopolize the Conversation (As per Bad4's suggestion: "talk too much or too little")

  • Come on; give the other person the chance to say something. However, how much that amount is can be decided completely at your discretion.

4. Blatantly Space Out

  • Well at least fake interest!

5. Stare too Intently

  • Have you ever heard the cliché “Hey, Buddy, My Eyes are up Here?” No further explanation necessary.

6. Call your Date by their Name

  • This one might be real, dunno.

7. Self-Deprecate

8. Disobey the Rules of Proper Etiquette

  • Like not using a straw? :)

9. Make Rude Remarks or Use Inappropriate Humor (ha'myvan yovin)

  • This one is actually serious, don’t even try it.

10. Miss Door Opening Opportunities

  • You better have a really good excuse for this one and snow banks less than 2 feet high is just not going to cut it.

While I do put effort into ensuring that I don't break any of these strict rules of dating, I am only human. So do you break any of these rules?

The First Date Project: Part 3

Sitting Down:
The moment you’ve all been waiting for; the actual date. Upon entering the venue, I will ask my date if she has any particular seating preference. I don’t think I have ever had a girl actually specify a location, but nonetheless I think it’s a nice gesture. So we saunter over to a table, remove our coats, and sit down. After a while, or a break in the conversation, I will offer my date a drink. Of course if the venue is full service this is a moot point. Now this is where I have found a discrepancy. When applicable, some girls will come along to get the drinks, while others will not. I actually prefer that they come along, primarily because it diminishes the guilty feeling of abandoning my date, but I am okay with either choice.

Choosing a drink isn’t immensely difficult. Now I would love to order a beer, but that just isn’t going to happen (that’s even if you assume we are talking about a venue which does stock decent brews). However, if it ever happens that a girl has the wherewithal to order a beer, I will be glad to do the same; but only because I wouldn’t want her to feel awkward :). At this point, I think I have ordered every possible non-alcoholic lounge beverage at least once. What can I say; boredom must be affecting my subconscious drinking choices.

Restroom Breaks:
I never knew this was an issue. If you gotta go, you gotta go. If both parties need to go at the same time, the best solution seems to be taking turns. Hey, someone has to watch the coats and stuff (or in some venues the coveted table and chairs). Okay, fine, I will admit that once on a really bad date I excused myself to go to the bathroom just because I needed to get away. When I got to the bathroom I tried racking my brains for conversation material, but kept coming up short. Suffice to say it pays to have a smartphone and read blogs (thanks BoSD). I’m not saying that those ideas fixed the date, but it did give me enough fodder to make it to the finish line.

Anyway, while my date is away I sometimes watch the other daters, check my email, or read something on my phone. Maybe it’s just me, but when I watch other couples who are also on a first date, there seems to be an inordinate amount of smiling and laughing. It’s a bit sad when you can tell which ones are real and which ones are forced. Now it could very well be I would appear the same way to someone watching me, but is that normal?

Leaving:
Leaving is a bit rough. Most girls I have gone out do not check their watches or openly signal they want to go home. In all the irony the few who checked their watches didn’t want to go back yet. I try to keep track of time, but it gets annoying when you have to covertly glance at your watch and pretend you’re not. As for the bad dates, well, those are a bit easier to figure out and end…

Drive Back:
The quality of the conversion on the drive back has always been girl dependant. On some occasion the drive back was better than the rest of the date while on others it has been the most grueling part. Being tired can work to your advantage or detriment. People are less on guard when exhausted and are more likely to say what they’re really thinking and not just what their “best foot forward” mindset had intended. I think some of the best and most candid conversations I have ever had have been discussed near the end of a first dates.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The First Date Project: Part 2

The Departure:
Aha, the first few seconds of relative privacy; this is always fun. Someone has to break the ice. Sometimes it starts off with that awkward “Hi” quickly followed by goofy grins, which is fine. It’s always nice when the girl beats me to the punch and breaks the ice first. Not that this is necessarily a good sign, but it makes for a good start. But either way, the ice must be broken!

The Drive:
I guess I would fall into Bad4’s third category, i.e. I open the door, look away while my date is getting into the car, once settled I look at her, and close the door slowly. No, I am not checking her out, but I am tracking her hands and feet. Some girls close the doors themselves while others cross their arm (or tug at their skirts) and patiently wait for the door to be closed for them. I don’t think there is a right or wrong, but I don’t want to close the door hastily and break a nail or worse. However, I should point that I have gone out with girls who have blatantly refused to let me open the door for them. At first I was taken aback by such requests, (OMG, that against protocol, ;) ) but then I realized in the scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter.

I can relate to the frustration people have about driving and maintain a decent conversation. It really isn’t the same as face-to-face chit chat. Besides, there is only so much information that you can retain while weaving through traffic, listening to the GPS, getting lost, and thinking about what your next topic of conversation might be. I also have this premonition that sitting in traffic does not enhance the ambiance factor. It is for that reason that I try to take my first dates to the closest reasonable venue possible. IMHO, even a simple lounge or dingy coffee shop might be better than sitting in traffic, at least for a first date.

The Entrance:
Upon exiting the vehicle, I regroup with my date and we walk towards our destination. I have found that some girls walk slower than others (high heels may play a role, but I have yet to do personal field testing to verify this hypothesis) so men as a precaution watch your pace, and women please {surreptitiously} convey to us if we are inadvertently paining your feet.

To tell you the truth I can’t even recall what I do by revolving doors because I don’t know. You just go through, right?

Doors: For push doors I try to step ahead, open the door, and hold it open for my date. Pull doors are a bit more complex. Technically ( halachically), a frum male is not supposed to walk directly behind a female. Pulling a door open, walking through, and holding it open is an option, but I prefer the more chivalrous and novel approach. Open the door, hold it, gesture for your date to proceed, wait a second as to not walk directly behind her, and then pass through the threshold.
Escalators: Again, I don’t know. It’s really whoever gets there first (if we just went through a pull door before the escalator, I am not going to try to win that race). The best case scenario is that we both stand sideways on different steps and converse, but on either a very narrow escalator or a crowded escalator this isn’t always possible.

Did I mention I love elevators? No, I am not talking about the scientific or technical innovation involved in the process; I am referring to the situations where you meet interesting people. But the best part is that you know these strangers are looking at you like your crazy and you completely agree. I always find it interesting to note where my date will stand in relation to my location in an elevator, but again in the scheme of things that is just nonsense.

The First Date Project: Part 1

Enjoy. I hope this helps someone out there. For the record I think some people take first dates a little too seriously, but I could be wrong…

The Preparation:
I won’t bore you by repeating the basic procedures of proper male hygiene, so for sake of brevity I shave, shower, brush my hair, and swig some mouth wash. Now for the clothes. For all my first dates I have always worn a suit. This makes my attire selection quite simple. Although I do need to meticulously pick a hat, suit, shirt, tie, socks, and shoes, I imagine the process does not take longer than 10 minutes. (Come on how hard is to pick that stuff out?) Being that it is the winter, I also have the pleasure of selecting a shabbos coat and scarf.

If time permits I check my date’s address in Google Maps to see where the house is located and if street view is available. (Isn’t technology amazing? Just image what people had to do before Google Maps! Circle the block three times maybe?) I then check my pockets for my wallet, keys, and cell phone. On the way out I make some minor adjustments to my tie, glance in the mirror, and leave; generally on time.

For a first date I aim to arrive fashionably late at my date’s house between 3 and 8 minutes after the set time. In most cases, traffic invariably causes this to happen. Of course some cities are worse than others, but I am not pointing fingers…

Side Note: If I am running more than 15 minutes late I will let either the shaddchan or the girl know, depending on the circumstances.

The Drive to the Date:
I don’t really have much to add to this section. The only tidbit of importance that I can append is that I try to put all the pertinent addresses I may need into my GPS before I leave and briefly check the routing methods. Like other people have mentioned, I keep a playlist in my phone for pre-date moments, although I haven’t played that in a long time.

Side Note: I always appreciate when a shaddchin is informed whether I can park in the driveway. In some place parking is nightmare. But again, I am not point any fingers…

The “Meet the Parents”:
Game Time! Now let the fun begin. Nearly all of my first date encounters have involved meeting the parents. As per the “rules” I don’t willingly eat or drink any of the fine delicacies artfully presented by my hosts. They’re like paintings, enjoyable only when looked at, but not tasted. The only exception is when I am involuntarily poured a glass of water or club soda, in which case I complacently sip my beverage, but just to be polite. But really, who has an appetite on a first date? So now we get down to the conversation. This process can vary significantly from “flame grilled” to topical conversation. Although I am foodie at heart this is one situation where I prefer bland. How about this, let’s just say I have met some very interesting parents…

Anyway, the conversation goes on for about 5-20 minutes, to which either the girl will get anxious and make her grand appearance (Ta-Da works for me) or her mother will go off and drag her out of her hiding spot. Either way, upon her arrival we exchange salutations and make our way towards the foyer. In most cases, especially in the winter with the entire coat taking etiquette, the parents will accompany us to the door.

At that point, someone will open the door, usually the father, but in some cases it’s the girls; I think that just might be because her parents are starting to make some embarrassing remarks such good luck, have fun, or be home before 4 a.m., but I am unsure. We then proceed to issue all the goodbye/pleasure-to-meet-you etc. niceties and proceed to the egress.

Stay tuned for more.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Why...

I really had no intention of starting a blog. But with creation of the “The First Date Project” I came to the conclusion that maybe I do need to post something. After all, it would only be right. Besides, now I have the ability to transform a project from evil to good.

Help with the Smileys


Here are some of the smileys/ emoticons usable on this site. Spaces between the characters are for illustration purposes.

Gmail/ Gchat Emoticons

:( = : (
:-( = : - (
:) = : )
:-) = : - )
:p = ; p
:-p = : - p
:-o = : - o
:D= : D
;) = ; )
;-) = ; - )
:| = : |
8-| = 8 - |
o:) = o : )
:-B = : - B
b-) = b - )
~X( = ~ X (
:-/ = : - /
:-* = : - *
:> = : >


Feel free to play with and test out the smileys in the comment section of this post.