Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Jewish Riddle

What do you get when you stick a bunch of Jews in a room together? Jewish geography!
“Oh, you're from NY? I once met a guy from NY. I can't remember his name but I think he was a lawyer or a doctor or something from the Upper West Side.”
“Toronto? Do you know a guy named Shmuel? I think that's his name anyway. He's my mother's second cousin from her father's side. I think he has a beard.”
What happens when the number of distant family members and passing acquaintances from all over the world is exhausted? The matchmaking commences!
And what is Israel if not a large metaphorical room with a bunch of Jews stuck in it? Everyone and his mother is a shadchan in this country. The old lady at the gym is a matchmaker. The hairdresser and the shoe repairman are shadchanim. Even the guy at the cheese counter decided I needed to find a nice boy.
I was in the changing room at the fitness center and an old woman sitting on the bench randomly asked me if I had a boyfriend. I told her that I did not, and she promptly asked me if I'd like one. I was like, “no, not really.”
“Good! I go to the Western Wall every week to pray for all the single people. I'll say a prayer for you that you should find your soul mate!”
I just sighed and replied, “If you feel you must.”
My mother brought a pair of shoes to the shoe repairman outside the shuk a while back and she must have mentioned that she had a daughter because the guy then tried to set me up with either his son, or some acquaintance (my mother's still unclear about who this poor shlemiel was) whose wife he didn't like. He hoped that they would get divorced and that this guy would marry someone else that the shoe repairman liked better. This was the first time someone had tried to set me up with a married man.
After this I asked my mother to please never mention me again and to stop showing people the picture she keeps of me in her wallet. I then secretly replaced the picture of me with a picture of an ogre with the hopes that even the most desperate would think twice about setting Shrek up with their 50 year old son who lost his job 5 years ago and still lives at home, but who happens to be a very nice man (even if he doesn't have much hair left and could probably stand to replace a few of his falafel meals a day with a salad).
A few years ago my roommate tried setting me up a few times. Matchmaking is clearly not included in her skill set (and I'm sure she has many). She should probably leave matchmaking to the professionals- like the guy at the cheese counter, for example. The first guy she asked me about was a guy who worked with her in archives. He had overheard her and another woman talking about dating and how there were no good single men. He popped his head up from behind the cubicle and announced to them both, “I'm single!”
I said no thanks to the desperate, eavesdropping archivist.
The next guy she tried to set me up with was apparently interested but couldn't even work up the courage to call me. I was not interested in a guy I'd probably have to coax out from behind the couch every time the doorbell rang.
The third guy was some yeshiva bochur about my age, whose Rabbi she knew and had said nice things about him. He was interested until he found out that I'd served in the army. It seems that his brain couldn't handle this new information and caused something to short out. He started freaking out that it was prohibited for women to serve in the army and that it was a corrupting environment, etc. etc. Even his Rabbi said he was overreacting and told him that there was nothing wrong with women serving in the army. It's probably a good thing no one told him that I had been a weapons mechanic, wear pants, and have no intention of staying home with the children. They might have had to call him an ambulance and defibrillate his heart. Nothing that my roommate had told me about the guy (even before his freak out) had made me want to date him (really? a yeshiva bochur?), but I least I'd had the dubious pleasure of being the cause of his minor mental malfunction.
Honestly, I'm a little too evil for a “nice guy.” A few weeks ago the hairdresser had mentioned to my father that he knows a nice 24 year old guy whose hair he cuts- an industrial engineer serving a 5 year stint in the army. I guess my dad knows me pretty well (a side effect of me living at home for the past too many years) because he answered that the two most important things to me are that a guy appreciate my sense of humor and that he like animals. The hairdresser didn't have enough information on this count but decided it would be worth pursuing. Thanks to my incredible timing, I'd made an appointment with him for the next week (before he could forget the entire scheme). But by the end of the session, he had managed to convince himself that a nice, shy 24 year old with very little experience with women (having come from a very religious background) maybe wasn't the best match for me. I was admittedly relieved.

A friend of mine recently asked me to keep her in mind if I met any nice guys. I was like, right, because I meet so many normal guys during the course of the day. I wouldn't hold my breath if I were her.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Hobby a Day Keeps the Boredom Away

During the summer I like to collect hobbies. Two years ago I decided to learn the guitar. That didn't go as well as hoped due to the tendonitis in my left wrist. I have made some progress in the intervening time, but I tend to judge the amount of progress I've made based on how fast Moby runs out of the room when he sees my guitar. Cookie can't be trusted for judgment calls since she has terrible taste in music in general.
Last year I started making jewelry, admittedly a strange hobby for one entertaining a marked apathy towards ornamentation. Which is a nice way of saying I just don't care. Sometimes I even forget to look in the mirror before I leave the house. Which often explains the looks I get at the bus stop.
My mother has benefited from this new hobby, being the recipient of my first few experimental pieces. In addition to making jewelry, I decided to sell it at craft fairs and yard sales, since I'm not going to wear it. Craft fairs are kind of hit-or-miss. The most successful one to date was the Olim Craft Fair sponsored by the city of Ma'ale Adumim. The key to a successful fair is advertising. Which is one thing the city of Ma'ale Adumim has mastered. There were Godzilla sized posters plastered all over the city, at the entrance to the city, in the mall, in the local newspaper (it was a really large edition that week. Even Godzilla likes to read about local news).
The fair took place in the “Golden Age Club” building (yes, that is a euphemism for old people's clubhouse) and consisted of about 20 or so tables ranging from jewelry, to paintings, to Ethiopian fabrics, to a guy who made impressive use of popsicle sticks. They even had a table with samples of wine, cheese, and olives produced down the road in Mishor Adumim (the industrial zone outside of Ma'ale Adumim). It seems however that the city was doing the company a favor by putting out these samples and that nobody actually had any idea how one could acquire these products. This may have been the least thought out part of the fair.
My incredible luck put me directly behind the fragrant sample table. I decided to push my table over a few inches in the other direction rather than not breathe, seeing as making small talk with customers is rather difficult when you're lying unconscious on the floor. Even so, it was not far enough away from the aromatic goat products and pickled olives. They also kept stealing my customers. I could see people meandering in the direction of my table, getting distracted by free food and alcohol and immediately forgetting that they had ever been on the way to the jewelry table behind the pungent freebie stand.
Every cloud has its silver lining however. They did keep passing me samples of wine when they got bored. That almost made up for diverting my potential customers. And I did manage to do a bit of business regardless.
I have learned that any fair where there are children's activities are a no-go when it comes to jewelry. Aside from the fact that I'm forced to listen to hours on end of children's songs, the women and grandparents who come to these things are just looking for a place to dump their kids for a few hours and take an unobtrusive nap in the back while the kids are clapping and singing along. These people don't want jewelry. They just want to rest a bit after being run into the dirt by 6 year olds so that they can remember where they parked the car and where they live.
The most depressing craft fair I participated in was the craft fair that takes place in Jerusalem on Fridays in the center of town. My mother's friend Varda had talked me into selling jewelry and said she'd even help me. This is a woman who could probably sell ice to Eskimos and sand to Bedouins. I kept putting her off because of school, then finals, and this and that but I finally agreed to get in contact with the person who runs the fair and see if they had an opening.
As usual, easier said than done. I found a phone number and email address on their website for Yossi, the guy in charge, and tried calling the phone number. No answer. So I sent them an email and waited until the next week for a response, which I didn't get. Finally I tried to call the guy again, who answered and then asked if I could call him back in an hour because he was having issues with his phone or some such thing. Half an hour later I got a transliterated Hebrew text message in English letters from a different number asking me to email them. I texted back: “I did. No one answered.” A few minutes later I got another text: “Did Ze'ev answer you?”
Ze'ev? Who is Ze'ev? So I tried calling back the first number. Still no answer. I sent them another email figuring that it was probably just going to get piled up somewhere with the first email I'd sent them and that whoever was supposed to be monitoring the email account was on vacation in Turkey or Nepal.
Wonder of wonders I actually got a response to the email. Whoever it was (Yossi? Ze'ev? Itzik? Moshe?) responded that I should email them at the beginning of the week of the Friday that I wanted to sell jewelry. I was like, isn't that sort of what I just did?
None of the above was the sad part however, more just par for the course. The sad part was that on Friday, the city was practically deserted due to the “situation,” as people had taken to calling the undefined military activity and influx of rockets into the country. It was past the point of being a military operation but people were still hesitant to designate it as a war.
A few Israelis wandered over to the table to take a look, and a few young tourists from Ohio showed some interest but in the end I only sold two pairs of earrings (one pair to a fellow seller). None of the sellers fared much better and the organizers ended up collecting only a small portion of the money they usually take for a table, based on how much each seller sold. This was quite decent of them since at the other unsuccessful fairs I had been forced to pay full price for the table, whether or not anyone attended.
It probably wasn't very wise of me to finally agree to sell jewelry while there was a “situation” going on. My sense of timing is impeccable when it comes to a witty quip, but terrible when it comes to useful things such as making money. I'm not going to give up though. Mostly because the jewelry is starting to pile up in my room and pretty soon I'm going to have to move into the bathroom.