Solely In Black and White: A Boy's Response

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Boy's Response

I have finally succumbed to the idea of posting something from a Jewish Newspaper. To top it off, this is from the Yated of all places. Now, I don’t generally read this “fine” publication for a myriad of reasons (which is not a discussion for this post), but this letter to the editor struck me as interesting and I wish to share it with you as you might find it interesting to say the least. It was either this or some mediocre poem, so be happy I chose the letter ;-) . (I have emailed the author at the address stated below about my “syndication” of his content, so if this post mysteriously disappears in the near future you’ll know why.)  




A BOY'S RESPONSE

Dear Editor,

No I am not. I am not him. I am hopefully not the object of your hatred, disdain or derision. I do not rifle through shidduchim like an over-caffeinated auctioneer. I have con­versed with shadchanim via phone, email and text, but the exchange is generally congenial and jointly initiated.

They are in my phone book, but they are not on my speed dial. I don't have a blocked-callers list (in case you were wondering). And no, I don't relish the process. At times it might be enjoyable, but it is not a game. It is a fateful and significant stage in the process of life, full of consideration, relationship, assessment, planning, joy, humor, stress and sometimes' pain. As such, I try to be considerate and kind, not only because it is advantageous, but also simply because of my non-cold, non-lifeless heart. And with that heart I do not cry, at least not as much as was described in the letter I authored several weeks ago. Empathy that leads to tears is certainly commendable, but that is not an ability I regularly possess, even to list on the common, exaggerated shidduch profile. The reality of the global shidduch predicament is saddening, but not debilitating. There are many who suffer through the trials of dating only to ignobly accrue the title "older single" with its adverse connotation.

But there are also scores of boys and girls who meet those challenges with confidence, courage, and, believe it or not, cheer. They gallantly utilize wellsprings of natural or practiced optimism, hopefully in tandem with trust in G-d, to navigate the emotionally choppy waters endemic to prolonged dating. Though not exclusively, I would like to consider myself a regular member of the latter troupe. There are times when I feel cruel, insensitive and alone, and there are times I feel compassionate, caring and loved. You might disagree, but I consider that normal and healthy.

So why the manic-depressive, maudlin literary out­burst? Why did I write a provocative, hyperbolic, seemingly demeaning, yet deceitful letter to the Readers Write column several weeks ago?

I initially considered the answer to be glaringly obvious from the piece itself, but considering the negative feedback, I feel beholden to clarify.

The person described in "The Boy's Perspective" (Yated Ne'eman, April 23, page 8) and criticized in "Look in the Mir­ror" (April 30, page 116) does not exist (at least to the best of my knowledge). At the outset, he personifies the extreme version of the narcissistic, spoiled baal gaavah who deserves and savors the hatred he receives. He is pompous, conceited, and iniquitous, least as many other adjectives you might cook up with Shift-F7 (for the techies out there). There is no eye that tears for his drawn-out tenure as a single boy. We cheer when he strikes out.

Conversely, there is his alter ego, the compassionate, vulnerable, somewhat pa­thetic (as in pathos), pitiful yeshiva guy. He experiences the same reality as the Mr. Hyde of his bi-polar personality, but he reacts in the opposite extreme. He cries, he mopes, and he derides himself as a societal menace. He is affectively (note to the editor - not effectively) hypersensitive, throwing his life and heart under the shidduch-reality bus that he does not control. His perception of girls is monolithic and generalized; his conscience is prodigious and malignant. We cry for him. We daven for him. We sigh when he comes up to bat.

The intention in the letter was to depict two divergent responses to the same reality. Some react with haughty, prima donna ar­rogance, while others meekly cower before their tyrannical, towering guilt. And, admit­tedly, there is he who manages to balance it, sporting a sensible stock of sensitivity as well as self esteem. But we will never know him. We are not in his car after he drops her off, in his room at night, or in his mind as he lies down to rest and contends with the rest of life. We see the external stimulus but not the emotional effect. We are blind to his struggle. We are practically unequipped to judge him and, as such, it behooves us to desist from doing so. "With righteousness thou shall judge thy friend." That is the point I wanted to convey.

Hopefully, this adequately clarifies the - letter's intended message. For inquiries from those who don't want to be published in the Readers Write column, my email ad­dress is mkings84@gmail.com.

Responsively,
M. King

10 comments:

  1. I think I may have overloaded the dictionary.com servers reading this letter. I have to read his original letter again, b/c even after reading this, something about his first letter bothers me.

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  2. What's to look up?

    The use of this particular writing style can either soften the blow of possibly harsh responses (if the writer thinks that he will be judged more favorably if he appears more intelligent), better illustrate the writer's main points, or disguise a poorly-reasoned argument (through obfuscation).

    The juxtaposition of these letters is just as intriguing as their content. Good points, perhaps more effectively conveyed by way of this contrast.

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  3. @Bored Jewish Guy:
    I know, his writing is quite good. That was one of the reasons I posted it. I haven’t seen the original yet. I emailed the author, and he said he will send me the original when he gets a chance. I’ll post any updates.

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  4. What an insightful letter. I would be very interested in seeing what his original letter was.
    A lot of times, girls look at guys and are not able to see them as people with emotions and depth. We are taught to be cynical and "not get our hopes up," b/c chances are, the guy is a jerk. I don't know how true this is or not. B"H, the boys most of the boys I have come to know i.e brother's friends, co-workers, dates, etc.) are giving, thoughtful guys who do not lack depth. Some guys do believe they are privy to their dream girl and nothing less, but what I have found is that most guys just don't know what girls want- whether it's what we want to hear or see.

    One of the scariest parts of dating is not knowing what is going through the guy's head. Does he take me seriously? Will he stop dating other girls if we get serious or will he still be looking over his shoulder? There are so many questions that can drive a girl crazy if she isn't careful with her thoughts. It's hard to balance faith in men and the doubts that society and for some, experiences, that have influenced our opinions.


    And a random question-- it really bad that I have never seen or heard of the Yated?

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  5. Coral - we're not all thoughtless drones, but still, we really don't look into things THAT deeply.

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  6. I think that's one of the big differences- girls tend to think and talk and discuss and ponder and wonder over every detail of dating...while guys don't (at least to such an extent). Which one is "better"...neither, I would say. I think the point is that we are supposed to help each other find the happy medium.

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  7. Yeah, I think it's just hard for each party to keep the other's perspective in mind. Guys can have a hard time remembering, no matter how much we're told, that every little thing we do might be taken into account by girls.

    We might not remember every word that was said - it's hard to pay that much attention sometimes when you're driving.

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  8. @Coral:
    The original will be posted shortly. That is not true at all! Some guys are jerks and some guys are not. The same could be said for girls as well, both in terms of thinking about only marrying their dream guy and in being obnoxious. It’s unwise to judge people merely based on gender specific stereotypes. Every person is an individual with their own strengths, weaknesses, and “oddities.” And, btw, I think some girls don’t even know what they want to hear and see… :-P

    That is true; not knowing what someone is thinking is always a problem, in any relationship. However, one would hope that if they had established a relationship to that point, they would have the wherewithal to ask those questions explicitly. Presumably honesty and open communications would be the answer.

    Yes. Very! :-P Nah, I’m kidding, you’re not missing out on much…. :-)

    @Tnspr569:
    I completely disagree; some of us do analyze and scrutinize our dates to same extent that we are being scrutinized. Furthermore, some of us do take into consideration our date’s cognitive abilities before we act imprudently. As I said above, don’t think these actions are gender specific, but most likely they are a by-product of a specific personality type.

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  9. SiBW, I never said EVERYONE is like that. And who said I was referring to imprudent actions? They could be completely innocuous. It's not always possible for people to understand the full repercussions of their actions.

    Is such scrutiny a good thing? I think it's good to give it some thought, but too much serves no purpose, in my mind. I would sooner just ask a friend's wife what a girl's actions or words meant before spending lots of time analyzing them.

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  10. Oish though I tried to infer that i do not see all males as thoughtless, selfish jerks, I probably shoul have prefaced my thought before the rest of my comment. So, I will do it this time.

    I do not think all guys fit the gender specific sterotype. I do however, think that guys will someimtes give unintentional positive feedback (i.e body language) which might cause a girl to think he is seriously interested when he is not. Can the roles be reversed and the guy is getting the wrong impression for a girl? Yes, but from my experience, girls look into these things much deeper and make assumptions based on the unspoken. That is why my personal rule is, if after a certain amount of time, he has not made an effort to be speak to me/spend time with me (depending on whether we are dating/how long we have been dating, then I assume he is not interested and I don't get my hopes up.

    Yeah if it gets serious enough youshould ask those questions but during the in beteen stage...it's hard. I'm not blaming that on males, I'm just stating the feeling.

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