Dating stories are, especially in today's age of millions of shidduch related blogs, a dime a dozen. One kind of dating story which, I feel, is enormously under-represented in blogsville, as well as in the hallowed halls of shidduchville where over-eager girls engage in chit chat about the misery they love to hate, is the Sibling Angle.
Yeah, thats right. I may be a number of years into shidduchim, and I might have a million first hand stories to tell, but my sister is a Miss Perfect, and as such, she will always have more dates, which will always lead to more stories.
But first, for those of you who didn't grow up with a pack of older sisters getting called on by eligible young bochurim, let me introduce you to the sibling perspective on shidduchim. So here is the story that my father likes to use by way of explaining the Sibling Angle to outsiders. Oddly enough, it didn't happen in my family.
A number of years ago, my youngest sister was in a playgroup in some woman's house. Often, my mother would have things she had to take care of in the afternoons, but the Morah was extremely accommodating. She was happy to keep my sister an extra couple of hours, if need be. So one day, my mother got unexpectedly stuck, and she called the Morah to ask if my sister could stay. "My husband will pick her up on his way home from work," my mother explained. The morah, usually so accommodating, sounded hesitant. But there wasn't much my mother could do, so they just left it at that. "Please just ask your husband to get here as soon as possible," the morah urged.
Meanwhile, my father got stuck with some things at work, so he left a little late. Then he got stuck in traffic on his way home, so he was a little later. Unbeknown to any of us, the morah's oldest daughter was going on her first ever date. This wasn't just the first ever date for a girl, but for a family. It is an experience of such magnitude, words can't do it justice, though perhaps I shall try in a future post. But back to the Morah Family who were frantically cleaning the house, preparing for the arrival of The Boy. In a household full of a million and twelve children, I doubt anybody gave much thought to the addition of the extra three year old. But, in their haste to shoo all of the children down to the basement before the date, they forgot that one of the kids' father was on his way to get her.
At the prescribed moment, everyone was in place. The juice was in a jar on the table, the cookies were neatly arranged on a plate, the mother's snood made way for a freshly brushed sheitel, and the Eldest Daughter sat in the other room, dressed in her finest whatever-was-in-style-back-then, feverishly saying tehillim. And downstairs, despite their lack of experience or practice, the rest of the kids were skillfully arranging themselves around the one basement window that provided a proper view of the driveway. The clock chimed date-time, and as if on cue, a car pulled up. The kids were, no doubt, waiting for a black Honda or Toyota sedan, were shocked to see a green Jeep pull up.
"Ew," said the second oldest, "Devorah would never marry a guy who drives a Jeep." "
"Shhh," said another one of the lucky kids with an actual view, "he is getting out now."
A collective gasp emerged from the children at the window. "He's so old," they chorused in unison. "Devorah would never marry someone who's that old."
And they were only getting started. Someone, I am sure, pointed out that the boy, or as they now called him, the man, was not wearing a hat, or even a jacket.
Upstairs, just as their kids were pronouncing the guy DOA, the anxious parents were watching with horror from the living room window. They surely turned shades of colors that crayola themselves haven't yet discovered as they realized what was going on. The frantic mother rushed downstairs, uttering a hasty "later" as she grabbed the intruder, my (then) innocent little sister. Finally, realizing what had happened, the children collectively released their breaths. "At least Devorah doesn't have to go on a date with someone who's old."
And that, my friends, is the siblings angle. Due to the precarious positioning that has been laid out for us by our sages, we, as the siblings, often get to see the guy, and occasionally, judge the guy, before the one dating him does. And that is what colored my view of shidduchim. Before I ever graduated seminary, before I ever met a shadchan, or even fully comprehended what a resume was, I already associated shidduchim with the cramped room in the basement with the best view of the driveway, with the precise timing required to know when it was safe to creep up the basement stairs and slowly open the jar a crack, giggling over every overheard word like it was a trophy of sorts.
And I have to say, sadly enough, that the more I experience shidduchim, the more I liked the Sibling Angle.