Yes, I knew that title would grab your attention. It certainly grabbed mine, when my employer, a highly successful journalist, bid me adieu on Thursday with those parting words. On route to Chicago to relive a summer gone by, and perhaps introduce myself to Ms. Gaga, I departed from my internship with a new understanding of myself and the impression I make on others. Apparently, when people think “Yaffa,” they think New York’s most eligible bachelorette. And by eligible, they imply the kind of desperation I feel between the time I awake and the time I arrive at Starbucks– the period of severe caffeine deprivation during which I may not be held accountable for any of my actions or decisions.
And while I know a good ten matchmakers in Brooklyn who would agree with that assessment, or at least the desperation part of it, I am not sure that accurately describes where I would place myself on the relationship spectrum. In the past few weeks, I have experienced a new round of shidduch (matchmade, in this case by friends) dates. Though they have been entertaining, and provided much fodder for future blog entries, they have also reaffirmed the fact that I am definitely not ready to make a death till us part vow, not now and not in the not so distant future.
This recognition– of my own position on marriage– came to me in the middle of a Chicago karaoke bar, during which I found myself on stage belting out Aretha Franklin’s “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” to a crowd of rowdy Midwesterners, shocked that a white girl like me would tackle a classic Motown song like that. I must admit, if you had told me a year ago, I would ever agree to sing in public, on stage, with a live band, I would have thought you had lost your mind. But somehow, with little to no alcohol in my system, I believed that Saturday night would be the perfect night to show the world that Lucy Ricardo and I have a little more in common than a propensity for 50s housewife dresses– we also lack the ability to carry a tune.
Energized and inspired by my first attempt at live performance, I also proceeded to do a rendition of Cheap Trick’s “I Want You To Want Me.” What I didn’t realize was that a certain someone was watching me with innocent ex-Amish eyes, and he was planning to engage me in conversation upon the conclusion of my second and final performance of the night.
Ex-Amish boy– we’ll call him Daniel– greeted me, as I exited the stage and said, “You and me, we’re a lot a like.” Assuming this was a pathetic attempt at a pick up line, I nodded politely and moved in the direction of the bar. But he pursued the topic further. “No, seriously, I can tell you grew up in an insular world not so dissimilar to my own. The way you started out the song, really unsure of your surroundings and questioning how you actually got there. You’ve got the look of a girl raised in an Orthodox setting.”
Though it is entirely possible Daniel tells all the ladies he stalks at karaoke night in dingy pizza bars this line, my curiosity was piqued. We began a lively discussion about the challenges of balancing our traditional value system with a fairly secularized culture, and indeed he was correct– we faced a similar daily dichotomy. In his case, he had chosen to leave Lancaster, PA behind at age 18 because his father had arranged a not so pleasant marriage for him and a girl he could only describe as “dull and with child-bearing hips.” After chastising him for criticizing a woman with a little extra junk in her trunk, I let him continue.He basically did not want to marry; he knew the world beyond his Amish bubble had something to offer, and until he fully explored and discovered it, he would be discontent settling down into any marriage, Amish or other.
I completely empathized. Even though no one had arranged a marriage for me, I had certainly had my share of bad dating experiences, i.e. a boy who kept exclaiming, “Oh, you’re too cool. Too Cool. Too Cool.” Yes, he was a tool. And I learned from those experiences that I was far from ready to wed, start a family, and put my child-bearing hips to good use.
Appreciating each other’s similarly awkward positions, we agreed to let go and for one night only, “Just Dance.” And yes, ladies and gents, I did see Lady Gaga up close and personal at Lollapalooza this weekend: