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Jewish Journal

The Connector

by Amy Klein

November 8, 2007 | 7:00 pm

I love my neighbor. Not, as it says in the Torah, "Love thy neighbor as thyself." But literally, I love him. It's not only because he helps me with manly activities, like moving furniture, killing cockroaches and opening jars (how do single women do these things alone?) but because Eric is a real man of character.

Here's the thing about being neighbors in a claptrap house, where the walls are as thin as silk: I can hear everything that's going on. Like when his young son visits for a month, and he is staying up in the middle of the night with him because he has a bad dream. Eric is a real mensch.

He's also not Jewish. So I decided to do what any nice Jewish girl would do: I set him up with my friend, Genevieve. She's also not Jewish, so they should be perfect together. Ha! If only matchmaking were so simple. Yes, the truth is, their non-Jewishness is not enough to make them a match (see: my single status), but they're both smart, attractive, earthy, intellectual and worldly.

Besides, at synagogue on the High Holy Days I discovered a couple I'd set up. I'd gone out with David, thought he was great but not for me -- so I'd introduced him to Risa.

"I hope I get credit for this," I tell them after shul.

But they can't give me credit -- only God can. It says if you make three successful shidduchim, three matches, you automatically go to heaven. And this High Holy Day season I was thinking that I'd really like an automatic pass. ("Go directly to heaven. Do not pass hell; do not collect $200.)

Three should be easy enough. I meet so many guys who just because they aren't for me doesn't mean they wouldn't be good for someone. What if this is my purpose in life? What if the point of my meeting so many people is to serve as what Malcolm Gladwell, in his book, "The Tipping Point," calls "The connector?" I feel heady with possibilities.

I decide to connect my ex, Ben, with my friend's friend, Deb. Deb's a smart, sassy lawyer whose really into good wine and food; Ben's also a lawyer who likes the good life and always says he needs a woman who will not put up with his ... with the behavior he pulled on me, and I put up with.

Then I visit friends in D.C., and I run into Sara, a woman who just moved there from Los Angeles. She's into Jewish education and is really tall and slim. She'd be perfect for Marc, this guy I meet in synagogue who works in aerospace and is ... really tall. OK, so I don't know either of them so well (at all), but isn't it better to be introduced to someone through a friend than through a profile that may or may not resemble their actual brick and mortar selves?

I guess not. Sara wants to see a picture of Marc before she commits to anything -- even though she's new to town, and Marc figured the least he could do was introduce her around.

Ben, my ex, did see a photo of Deb on her law firm's Web site and is not sure he wants to take her out -- this is after I've given him her number and told her he'd call.

"Is she a good listener?" he wants to know. "Are you?" I want to reply, but I know he isn't.

"I don't want a loudmouthed woman who is going to always be telling me what to do," he says explaining a Jewish stereotype without actually using the actual word.

"I thought you didn't want a shrinking violet, a woman who wasn't going to let you push her around," I say. He couldn't explain it.

But Genevieve could. She thinks my neighbor is nice, but she doesn't want someone like her ex-boyfriend; she doesn't want to like anyone too much because she acts silly. She doesn't want someone to like her too much, because it makes her nervous; she wants to be friends first with everyone because...

OMG! People are crazy! Is this how insane I sound when talking about my dates? As I watch these dramas unfold around me, I am yet again amazed by the complex nature of human beings; is it a complexity we bring on ourselves?

For example: Eric and Genevieve. After every date, I get the story from both of them -- believe me when I say I ask neither. One night, at midnight, there's a knock on my door. They come in, we hang out, they leave. Ten minutes later, another knock. It's Eric. He wants to talk. But the phone rings. It's Genevieve. Eric leaves. I talk to Genevieve. I go to Eric's after.

"What should I do?" he asks me.

I don't know what to tell him. Or Genevieve, who is freaked out because he likes her. Or my ex, Ben, who has now put me in the awkward position of not wanting to take my setup. Or the couple in D.C., who are interrogating me like I'm applying for a job with the CIA.

Why am I doing this again? What was the reason I yetna-ed my way into these people's lives? I am beginning to think they are all single -- we are all single -- for a very good reason. And I'm not sure I'm up for dealing with other people's mishegoss (on which the Jews have no monopoly.)

So I give the D.C. couple each other's online profile numbers; I tell Ben to do what he likes with Deb; but I also tell her to not expect his call; and I tell Eric and Genevieve they're on their own.

I don't have time to worry about them anymore. I've got to find someone for myself.

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