Jewish Journal

They’re saving me from ‘spinsterhood’

by Orit Arfa

Posted on Feb. 14, 2008 at 5:00 pm

A girlfriend and I decided to meet at a mega-bar in Jerusalem to catch up -- and not to pick up or be picked up; I've long abandoned the prospect of meeting my prince charming at a bar, particularly this one, which isn't known for its intellectual clientele.

Sitting at the bar, my friend and I began talking, and a mildly handsome guy and his friends took the stools next to us. In a bid at picking me up, the guy stroked my "Kotel ring."

"What's this ring?" he asked. I briefly explained that it was styled after the Western Wall with my name gilded in gold. Eager not to give him any encouraging signals, I turned back to my friend.

During a lull in our girl-talk, the guy turned to me again and asked me what I do for a living, adding: "You look like someone important."

That's an original pick-up line, and since I'm as happy as anyone for an ego-boost, I asked him what he meant.

"You look sophisticated, highly intelligent and very sexy. I think that one day I'll see you on television."

Note to men: Flattery always works. He got my full attention. He introduced himself as Guy, and, with my full blessing, began to psychoanalyze me. He told me that I looked out of place and that my demeanor was unapproachable, intimidating, even condescending. I agreed that at times I can be snobby, so he advised me to start giving people a chance, to stop judging people superficially. He announced that he has special intuitive powers -- it runs in his Tunisian family -- and that he could foresee that if I didn't lower my dating standards, I'd end up very alone. He took his forecast a step further by telling me that if he were to take me out to dinner, he'd have to put on "boxing gloves" -- for I'm not easy -- but he's ready for the challenge. I'm not necessarily his physical type, but I intrigued him.

I was tempted by the offer and fascinated by his assessments -- I know I'm not a typical woman of my age -- but I wasn't tempted enough to give him my number. I settled for a drink invitation, and as the night wore on, my friend and I took a stroll around the bar to browse.

Guy followed us, and I realized that, while he was amusing, I just wasn't into him. Thanks to his great intuitive powers, he sensed this and turned to my friend, who also wanted to be psychoanalyzed. He told her that she likes to be around powerful people. Then he asked for her number. Gee, I guess I wasn't so special after all, and he was just another "guy."

A few days later, a friend set me up. While this guy was a little too nerdy looking for my taste -- with his rimless glasses, Elvis-like sideburns and bookish demeanor -- I nevertheless decided to go for it, to follow Guy's advice and "lower my dating standards."

This fellow, too, works as a journalist, and, unlike Guy, his approach was refined and polite. Our first date at an Irish pub was rather pleasant. The conversation generally flowed, and I forgave his strange, triangular sideburns and the fact that he deliberately didn't leave the waitress a tip. He didn't seem well-versed in dating etiquette, and it took him four days before he asked me out again. When he did, he had me choose the time and venue. I was a little put off by his passivity.

Eventually, his slow pace simply frustrated me, and I guess I didn't like him enough to keep trying my patience. He couldn't get his act together to plan a third date, and I told him that I didn't think it was going to work. "Too bad," he muttered sadly over the phone.

A few days later, I was surprised by a letter -- via snail mail -- in which he confessed his feelings for me through elegant calligraphy on nice stationery. He wrote that he knows he missed a step, that on the last date he had longed to kiss me (on the the tip of the ear, for whatever reason), and that he wants another chance. Over e-mail, I gently declined.

He responded with a line that went something like this: You're afraid of falling in love, and to avoid developing a long-term relationship you come up with obscure excuses. I can help cure this psychosis.

This time, I wasn't so gentle in my rejection.

So is this the new line that men attempt with women over 30: "Let me save you from your fear of intimacy"? Do they think we are so afraid of ending up as spinsters that they have to appeal to our lonely femininity? Are they so afraid of rejection that they have to resort to emotional blackmail?

Why can't a man just say: "I'm into you! I really like you -- your looks, your mind, your soul. I want to get to know you. Let's spend time together." And keep it at that!

If we are compatible, maybe a relationship will develop. And if we like each other -- then, yes, feed me the line, please! Tell me that you will stick it out with me when I get needy or complex or difficult and that we will push each other to grow as people and as partners. For I'm not afraid of intimacy -- I want to be in an exciting, healthy, happy relationship -- I'm just afraid of intimacy with the wrong man.

And the man who uses the pick-up line "let me rescue you from your early 30s neuroticism" is definitely the wrong man.

Orit Arfa -- www.oritarfa.net -- is a writer living in Israel.

Orit sent JewishJournal.com a new video about her adventures as a beauty contestant in a Valentine's Day pageant in Jerusalem.

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