Brooklyn Boys

5 Mar

I have a piece of information that may taint my rep, but I must say it, for it is the truth. And I. Won’t. Run. From. The Truth.

I’ve been attending singles events since the age of 4. Not voluntarily, of course. It kind of just comes with the territory of having a shadchan for a grandmother. It worked out great for my parents. They got a free stay at a fancy hotel with good food, and my grandmother had the moral support she needed to deal with the newest slew of marriage hungry 30-somethings who had no intention of compromising on their dream spouse.

Yup, my Savti, who left the business 10 years ago, was that person. She ran the glitzy Shabbos Nachamus, told the women to not let the threat of baldness get in the way of them getting married and taught the men how to tuck in their shirts. These events were not for the “normal” people. These were for the people who missed the first ferry off the Isle of Singleness and were looking to get out on the next outbound boat. It’s not nice to say, but the shidduch business is not a nice business. You gotta be honest, you gotta be real or you’re going to steadily increase your annual adoption of felines.

Having a shadchan in the family can lead to lots of scary things:

1) Seeing adults behaving like children.

2) Hearing about 50-year old men who still think they can get a 20-year old “chick”.

3) Having shidduchim rhedt for me at age 10.

But one of the good things about having a shadchan for a grandmother was the pearls of advice I got early on. It’s like getting a tip before a horse race. Not always 100% reliable but still useful.

The first tip I can remember getting from Savti was , “Coral, whatever you do, don’t go out with a Brooklyn boy.”

“Why not?” was my innocent reply.

“Why not, shaffele? I’ll tell you why. They’ll go to your second grade teacher and ask how you behaved during lunch. They’ll go to your high school principal and as if you participated in the school production. They’ll go to your neighbors and ask them to find out if your parents have round knobs on their nightstands or square ones. They’ll ask the local tailor if my coat is real fur or fake. They’ll inquire into what kind of china we use on shabbos. Coral, if you plan on marrying a Brooklyn boy, you had better tell your mother to switch to Lenox and fast. What I’m telling you shaffele, is that you can do so much better with an out-of-towner. Really, you should forget the whole New York. I’ll find you plenty of good Balitmore boys, but if you really must date the New Yorkers, stay away from Brooklyn.”

Being unsure as to how this pertained to my present 10-year old life, I took the information graciously and moved on. Barbies were so less complicated, I planned on sticking with them.

Ten years later, I’ve broken the rule once so far. I was suggested two guys from Brooklyn but one so scarily resembled my Savti’s Brooklyn boy caricature, that we never even made it to a first date. The other one however, was a real gentleman. He held the doors open for me, offered me a second drink at Starbucks and laughed at my jokes (yes, laughing at someone’s jokes can count as a chessed, although mine are always funny).

I didn’t want to say anything to Savti. After all, I had only been out with him once.

“So how was your date?” she smirked that know-it-all smirk of hers.

“What makes you think I was on a date?”

“I could hear it in voice when I called you the other day, shaffele. You think I can’t tell?


“No, of course you can, Savti. It went well, Baruch Hashem.”

“So where’s he from?”

Would she be able to hear that in my voice too? No, it would be the utter dread in my eyes that gave it away. So I took the plunge:


“Very nice.”

“Really?” I asked astonished by her lukewarm response, “You don’t mind?”

“Obviously I’d prefer if you married a Baltimore boy but if he’s a mensch, he’s a mensh. If he really loves you, he’ll move out to somewhere with normal parking. Really, it’s a big plus for him. You’ll give him a good reason to get out of there.”

Ah, shadchans. Always looking five steps ahead.


2 Responses to “Brooklyn Boys”

  1. Princess Lea March 8, 2010 at 12:22 pm #

    I was also a major Barbie player. I reluctantly abandoned them (now perfectly packaged in my closet, off limits to nieces who’ll just pop off the heads) at a very late age.

    Brooklyn, sadly, has a bad rap. Considering how my family is from there, it’s kind of distressing. The mishagas comes more from the mothers than from the boys, though, and a mensch is a mensch. I would find it actually more admirable to go out with a Brooklyn mensch – they have become one in the face of “adversity.”

  2. coralcap March 8, 2010 at 5:22 pm #

    Yeah I loved my Barbies until I was about 11. Then all their accessories, clothes and Kens started mysteriously disappearing so I didn’t bother saving them. My theory is that my brother’s stole all of the stuff (and Kens) and fed them to our Guinea Pig.

    I’m sure most of the mishagas comes from the mothers, but this one boy, whose mother I didn’t even speak to asked some pretty personal questions and added in some pretty ridiculous comments as well. A mensch is a mench; doesn’t matter where he comes from. Out-of-towners have a better track-record for being mensches but I went out with an out-of-towner who acted like a mensch but clearly had no respect for me.

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