I have decided that before I can get married, Hashem apparently wants me to go through a certain number of ridiculous, stupid, unwanted situations regarding my singleness. Therefore, when I encounter people who say stupid or insensitive things, I should thank them for getting me that much closer to a good relationship.
I was at a wedding yesterday. It was a wonderful wedding -- the story behind the bride and groom and how hard it has been for them, and how they met, etc is really beautiful -- and I had a wonderful time.
Except when we were milling around at the "kabalat panim," and a woman I'd never met before came over to chat, and we had the following conversation:
Her: So, how do you know the bride?
Me (smiling): We have mutual friends.
Her: Are you married?
Me (thinking "when did it become OK to ask me if I'm married before you ask me for my name?): Uhhhhhhh . . . no . . . . (starts turning to walk away before I blow a gasket)
Her: You know, the man who is taking photos is also single. Do you want to meet him?
Me (thinking "when did it become OK to offer to set me up with someone before you know my name . . . and to base the shidduch on both of us being single? But then again, who knows where one's Redemption might come from? Perhaps through this stupid woman. Who am I to say "no" out of hand? Besides, my mother warned me that if I tell people I don't want to be set up, they will think I'm a lesbian . . . thanks, Mom): Uh, I don't know. Can you tell me something about him?
Her: Here, I'll point him out to you and you can see if he looks good to you.
Me: Ummmmmmmm . . . . OK I guess . . . .
Her: Come, follow me . . . see, there he is -- the man in the blue shirt holding the camera.
Me (agape, and in an unnaturally high voice): Um . . . how old is he?
Her: I think he is about 58 or so.
Me (wondering whether I'm so prematurely aged that I appear 20 years older than I actually am, and feeling very insecure and unattractive): I'm 35.
Her: Oh, I guess it isn't a match then.
Me (breaking out in a sweat): No. But, uh, thanks. Have a good time at the wedding. Bye.
That woman probably went home and thought "I'm such a nice person, always on the lookout to make people happy by setting them up." Apparently no one has told her that offering to set people up on the basis of zero information does not make them happy. It makes them go in search of the ladies room, lock themselves in a stall, and spend several minutes shaking one's fists in the air and doing "silent primal screams" and basically having a fit and practically pulling a ligament, before pulling themselves together so they can have a good time at the wedding.
And then, today, I got an email from someone with whom I attended ulpan, a group email informing his friends that after 4 years, he has not been able to find a decently-paying job in his field (which is forestry . . . I could have told him, but he didn't ask me . . . . ), and that he and his wife and 2 kids are returning to Europe, and they hope that someday they can move back to Israel.
I spent a fairly significant amount of time writing a response with the story about how I came on a pilot trip in 1994, and realized that I couldn't earn a living here, but by 2003 the internet, combined with my having gone to journalism school, had created new job opportunities for me. I wrote that my hope for him is that he is very successful back in Europe, and that in the near future something will change in his industry, or in the world, or with him, which will allow him to return and earn a good living here. Please note that he himself had expressed this to be his wish, so essentially my email was saying "what you want for yourself, I want for you, and hopefully my own story will give you hope."
His reply: "Thank you Sarah. It's very unfortunate that I haven't been able to find a job that will feed my family . . . Hopefully we'll be back. May we dance soon at your wedding. Sincerely . . . . "
Um, thanks for that non-sequitor, the one that indicates to me that you can't even exchange emails with me about your making yeridah without thinking about the fact that I'm single. Oh, and thanks for reminding me that I'm single, because, you know, I'd been thinking and working on other things, like planning a sheva brachot for the bride who got married yesterday, and getting work assignments done, and finding a ride to an event I'm attending tonight, and God forbid that 5 minutes should pass without my remembering that all people seem to want from me, and for me, is to dance at my wedding -- something that is not entirely under my control to provide. I was feeling pretty adequate until you reminded me that I'm missing a wedding. Can't have that.
But still . . . must. maintain. one's. serenity . . . . reframing, I'm reframing . . . THANK GOD there are people like them in the world, for helping me fill my quota of pre-marriage stupidity.
So, thank you, well-meaning but stupid people! Thanks to you, maybe there will be a wedding for you to dance at someday after all! Woo hoo!