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JewishJournal.com

September 27, 2007

Of bad dates and good intentions

http://www.jewishjournal.com/singles/article/of_bad_dates_and_good_intentions_20070928

I went on what was arguably the worst date ever. Thank God, it was neither tragic nor violent, but in the category of terribly disappointing, it was the worst.

It is a long story that involves visuals, pauses for the shock to sink in, and words that cause me to cringe inside even though I am quoting someone else. He insulted my teachers, complained inappropriately and made scandalous comments about my cats' sex lives. That was just the first 10 minutes. He used a handicapped tag to get a good parking spot. He went to get himself a drink and then ate leftovers from a brown paper bag in front of me without saying a word as I stared in disbelief. He told me I was wrong about something and tried to bet me that he could prove it. If this was the best first impression he could muster, what would happen when he did not care?

Lately, though, I've wondered what ever happened to the man who was the worst date ever. Is he married? Is it possible that someone fell in love with him? Could it be that he is doing fine, and I'm the problem? OK, he is definitely part of the problem, but maybe I have not found my match because there is something wrong with me.

What is wrong with me? For any possible honest answer to that question, I could probably identify 10 married people, off the top of my head, who aren't that different from me. Or are worse. I see people all the time with offensive characteristics, rude mannerisms and less-than-charming personalities who nevertheless have gotten married. Nothing is wrong with me. I just have not found my match.

After learning my marital status, people sometimes comment on how attractive I am, what a total package I am or even what a wonderful mother I would be. Occasionally I allow the comments to sink in and accept them as compliments. However, the astonishment of how such a catch like me has not been caught sometimes smacks like a backhanded compliment.

"You look normal, and you seem nice enough," they seem to be saying, "I can't believe someone hasn't snatched you up." In other words, I can't figure out what is wrong with you, but there must be something since you are still single.

I needed inspiration. I date because I believe I will eventually meet the man I will marry. Rejection hurts, but it has not shattered my belief that there are decent available men out there. Too many dates on the worst-date-ever scale have left me wondering if there are any decent men left out there. I only need one.

So I was inspired to write a prayer to say before a date. It is my prayer to be able to balance the fears of rejection and disappointment with the excitement of potential, to recognize my date's vulnerability as well as my own, and to know that the experience of encountering another can be an encounter with the divine. This is my prayer:

God of our ancestors, God of Abraham and Sarah,
God of Isaac and Rebecca, God of Jacob, Leah and Rachel,
bring holiness to this upcoming encounter.
Your love is true and enduring;
help my soul experience your presence.
Let my fears remind me of the power of relationship.
You implanted within me the ability to love;
help me keep my heart open.
Judge of all humanity
protect me from pride and selfishness.
With the intellect you have given me,
let me think carefully.
Fill my mouth with words of kindness.
Let my eyes patiently see what truly lies before me
for You are the source of truth and goodness.
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, whose loving covenant is eternal.
I offer this prayer to anyone who wants to see holiness in his or her search for a soul mate. It comes with the hope that the best date ever -- or at least a meaningful experience of meeting someone -- is still possible. Moreover, maybe no one has to worry about going on the worst date ever, because I have already saved the world from that happening.

Rabbi Idit Jacques' date occurred while she was living in Los Angeles. She currently lives and works in Columbus, Ohio.

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