I've often watched a woman in the midst of pre-date jitters. It has never been a pretty sight, be the woman a sister or friend. Some are anxious to a dizzying degree. They go to each mirror in the house, to see how their makeup will look in different lighting. They try on every pair of shoes they own, trying to determine which is best. (this can take a really long time, depending on her level of Perfection.) They iron out invisible crimps in their hair, while simultaneously fretting about non-existent creases in their black suit.
There are those that get all spiritual from their nervousness. They sit and say tehillim, ignoring their surroundings, praying that the next three to five hours pass as quickly as possible. They sit and pray with such fervor, you have to hope that they won't miss the guy at their door.
Some girls go irritable pre-date. They are the ones that make you want to scream something like "Nobody said you have to go out! It's your decision! And even if it's not, it wasn't my fault so go fight with somebody else!" Then there are the ones who go super-sweet pre-date. If they are normally really un-sweet, they can be really disconcerting. They make you want to say "who are you and what have you done with my sister?" Sometimes I wonder if they think that the zechus of their sweetness will make their date go more smoothly.
One thing I never though about though, was the guy. I mean, he has a pre-date time too. And as many ties as a guy has to chose from, there can't be much fussing about his looks. Instead, does he fuss over the gemorah the father might be asking him about?
Then there is another factor the boy has to consider, and that's the timing. He can't get there early, as that would appear seriously OCD. (Not to mention really nasty. One boy missed my mother because he came ten minutes early. This was after pushing the date off by a week because she was in Israel when they were going to go on the first date.) He can't come too late either. That seems careless. (One of my sisters dated a boy who came over and hour late for each date. I commented that if she ever gets engaged to him, we will have to call the chupah for 2 in the afternoon if we want to have it before midnight.) But timing can be tough, especially if the girl lives quite a distance from the boy's starting point.
So what made me think of all this, suddenly? Well the other day I got my answer to the boy's timing. I was parked in front of a convenience store/takeout store, which also serves as a quasi hangout for yeshivah guys. I was waiting for someone there, so I had an opportunity to observe the scene from the relative comfort and security of my car.
I watched as a young man, dressed in a neat suit and classy tie walked into the store. It was clear from his manner that he was more than a little nervous. He walked around the store, looked around, and as far as I could see, bought nothing. As the guy walked out of the store, and into his clean, nice-looking car, I looked at my clock and realized the simple reason for this odd behavior: it was 6:56 pm. Surely, in some house not too far away, there was a young lady, consumed by intense pre-date jitters, scurrying around the house, trying to get ready for her seven o'clock date.
I don't think I'll ever look at pre-date jitters the same way.