As we know, Jews leave the womb equipped with a worry reservoir that is filled early and replenished constantly. We worry about everything. Worrying is as essential to our well-being as a balanced breakfast. It’s our duty, our birthright and our most profound satisfaction. All Jews worry all the time.
In my new book Jewish as a Second Language, Second Edition, I teach non-Jews who are dating or marrying Jews how to build their worrying skills (as well as other vital skills, such as interrupting, overeating and exaggerating what the doctor said).
But, you’re thinking, I worry fine. I’m excellent at it. Why would I, a certified, circumcised, caffeine-intolerant Jewish person, need such lessons?
Here’s why: As a single Jewish dater, with two sons who are also single Jewish daters, I’ve studied and codified the entire galaxy of date-related worrying. Now you no longer need to rely on boring no-brainer worries like how long your Right Guard will work (never long enough), or whether your new platform spike gladiators will take you farther than half a block (no).
In the book, Worrying is placed in the chapter on Entertainment. Don’t bother denying that this fact hits an “oh-yeah” spot in your brain.
So let’s get started on all the exciting new obsessions, “what-ifs,” “why-me’s” and “oy-veys” you can enjoy in your dating life:
Your breath. Let’s say you’re at a nice Italian restaurant with Seth or Arielle. You can think:
“Should I tell the waitress to leave out the garlic?”
“Will the shrimp scampi still taste good if they leave it out?”
“What if they put garlic in anyway?”
“What if no one wants to kiss me ever again?”
What did she mean by THAT? You’re at a concert on your first JDate with Melissa. She says something thoroughly inconsequential, like, “I hope it’s a nice day tomorrow.”
What to do now? Magnify this out of all proportion (she can’t wait for the date to end.) Manufacture nuances Melissa never dreamed of conveying (she hates my shirt, my hair, my car, my entire family). Keep agonizing until you manage to convince yourself that because of all this stress you are going to get cancer and die.
The outdoors date. On TV dating shows, the newly matched couple is always shown playing hackysack in a park, surfing or skydiving. Of course, these pastimes are just for non-Jewish daters. A Jewish skydiver wouldn’t merely be unusual; it would be an apparition. A JDate, like any Jewish activity, involves only two activities—sitting and eating. So picture the two of you at a charmingly natural alfresco restaurant where you sit on tree stumps, use disposable tableware and generally enjoy the delights of the outdoors. Here you can both do your worrying out loud, as it’s crucial to make the staff aware of anything that limits your dining pleasure:
“Do these bugs sting?”
“What’s with this wind? My napkin flew away.”
“My seat is damp. I could catch pneumonia.”
“There are leaves on the table.”
“It’s hot out here. How do you know when you have heatstroke?”
“I think I just saw a snake.”
But possibly, in spite of all the tragedies you envision, you two JDaters® might become a couple. Then a wonderland of worrying together awaits! You can even engage in the most fun of all — two-person competitive worrying (Jewish Ping-Pong):
Jordan: “My sister broke her leg.”
Danielle: “My sister broke her engagement.”
Jordan: “An engagement isn’t like a leg.”
Danielle: “Of course not. A leg heals.”
So there you have it — all the tools you need to enjoy the sport of worrying as daters and as a couple. Have fun — and be sure to contribute new potential agonies so other readers can share!
I think you would get a big kick out of a song called “Dueling Paranoias” by my favorite comic duo, Lou and Peter Berryman. It is on their CD called “Double Yodel”.
I have been following them for several years and they are so clever.
Their website is http://www.louandpeter.com.
I loved it! This is ‘laugh out loud’ funny
Thanks for a good read
Toda – I feel a little more normal now… Sheeh! I worry so much that I worry about worrying too much – ya know?
How fantastic its 2.30 am, & I was dreaming about what I’d been worrying abut,woke up & got up. (of course, which Jew could go back to sleep?). Then I read this article,I laughed so much, It’s a good thing there is only the cat & me here, or I’d have woken anybody in the house no matter where they were. Thank you for the reminder to relax, & let things be. I am going to purchase the book now instead of going back to sleep!(I might not have time, or forget in the morning).
Funny.now imagine if the two jdaters are French moroccan Sephardic Jew.multiply the worrying by a billion.
You are so right. I was born to worry (as we all are)- did I switch off the iron or the stove – why my last date hasn’t called yet – am I intelligent, learned, thin, beautiful or young enough for that good looking academic who has just shown an interest in me. In fact I worry if I am not worrying. Got to get that cat!
This was really funny, thank you Molly.
I can already see myself reading your book on the train to work and getting the weird stares from nearby passengers. (yes, sometimes I worry about that. Although I’ve been teaching myself to stop, and I gotta say the withdrawal is not that bad lately).
I’m a Jewish skydiver. And I have yet to meet another one. Where is he?!