I’ve been told over and over again that there are no good Jewish men out there. I’ve read it in Jewish newspapers, heard it at Jewish singles events and seen it on the Web. Usually when I read the “no good Jewish men” complaint, I get mad and sometimes even write letters to the editor full of arguments like, “Whaddaya mean, no good Jewish men out there? I’m a good Jewish man, and I’m out here, dang it!”
But the hell with all that. I’m done with arguing. I’m uncloseting myself and declaiming to the world: I am a bad Jewish man.
Not bad like torturing kittens or using my tallit to net shrimp and hogtie pigs. And not bad in the rebellious-bad-boy, take-no-guff-badass, wow-he’s-sexy way. Just bad in dateability.
I’m short. I don’t make a lot of money. At 49, I’m too old for much of the Planet of the Jewish Single Women. And — this will be a shock, coming from a Jew — I’m neurotic and insecure.
Is it unfair or sexist to say that these traits seem to cool the desires of most women? Maybe. Nevertheless, the fact still stands: I am bad.
Now, at this point in the confession, you might expect the next sentences to be, “But I’m a really nice guy if you get to know me,” or “Don’t I deserve love like everyone else?” But comments like those are a way of saying, “Treat me like I’m good” — and I told you, I’ve quit arguing that case.
I don’t expect to talk women into changing their desires and standards. Women are what they are.
So are men. I’ve run into too many Y chromosomes who gripe just as much that there are no good Jewish women. Ask these guys about the one they met on JDate, or Friday Night Live, or your friend’s wedding, and they’ll tell you why she’s too much like their mother, or the girls they went to Hebrew school with, or that she’s not young enough, or that her body isn’t perfect enough.
Obviously, it’s all too easy to qualify as a bad Jewish woman or bad Jewish man. One of the most obvious qualifications is kvetching and moaning. You know the usual examples: “Everyone in this town is so superficial,” or “My parents drive me crazy,” or — ready for this one? — “There are no good Jewish men out there.”
That’s right. You may think that you’re a good Jewish woman or good Jewish man, but if you whine that you can’t find good Jews to date, you’re bad.
Not a big ego boost, is it?
Welcome to the dark side. You’ll find a lot of us here. As the nerd Lewis Skolnick (a fine Jewish name) said at the end of “Revenge of the Nerds,” “We have news for the beautiful people. There’s a lot more of us than there are of you…. Why don’t you just come down here and join us?”
You’re not completely bad, of course. For me, hearing a woman say “no good Jewish men” is like hearing her express uninformed political opinions. My esteem for her judgment and good sense drops, but not very far. The “no good Jewish men/ no good Jewish women” line isn’t all that hurtful by itself.
Problem is, it’s not by itself. Like the straw on the camel’s back, “no good Jewish whoevers” drops onto a heap of other annoying cliches that people dump onto us unmarrieds.
For instance, there’s, “You’ll find love when you quit looking for it.” Even at their most alert, with eyes open and antennae up, guys can be myopic about women’s feelings, desires and come-hither signals. When we’re not even looking, you may as well outfit us — or at least me — with a dog and a white cane. Besides, when I’m not looking for someone, I usually hang with family and friends. Last time I checked, there weren’t a lot of available Jewesses manhunting through the suburban den of my married-with-two-kids sister.
Or there’s, “Why don’t you try speed dating (or JDate, or matchmaking service, or any number of other resources)?” Most of us grown-up singletons have been seeking Mr. or Miss Rightstein for a long time. We know the checklist of strategies, and we’ve tried most or all of them. If we’re still single, assume that they haven’t worked for us.
And of course there’s, “Don’t worry, everyone has a bashert.” I once heard a bit of Jewish folklore that asked what God’s been doing since he finished creating the universe, and the answer was, “He’s been arranging marriages.” He should go back to creating universes. My bashert must have missed her train — or maybe she got hit by it and is in no condition to date.
My friend Bill married a terrific woman, and they lived happily ever after. But “ever after” didn’t last long; she died young. After mourning his loss, Bill found another terrific woman, married her, and is living a happy life. Was his bashert the first woman or the second one? And what if he had met the second one while still married to the first?
If it seems like I’m cynical — well, I don’t want to be. I yearn to be the Adam who finds his Eve, the Abraham who finds Sarah, the Woody who finds Soon-Yi. (Well, maybe not that last one.) But putting up with “no good Jewish men” and other cliches gets me frustrated, cranky and curmudgeonly. What’s worse, I know that those moods aren’t good for attracting women.
But after all, I’m bad.
David Seidman, a writer living in West Hollywood, Calif., is the author of more than 40 books, including “Teens in Iran” (Compass Point Books), “Samuel Morse and the Telegraph” (Capstone Press, 2007) and “Creating a New Future” (Chelsea House, 2007).