Average Jane

The Spinster’s Dilemma

The timing couldn’t have been worse. “Uncle G, I really don’t want to have this conversation right now. I feel sick.”

“Sick” may have been a gross understatement. It was a hangover that set in around 11:30am, 4 hours after I woke up, leaving me to believe I was still drunk until then. The Cultural Contributor came to Philly for her first visit since I moved. We were determined to take the down by storm, and I dare say we succeeded. Seven bars and three stiff drinks (we walked into and out of 4 of them) into our bar tour, we jumped in a cab and headed across town to a bar I had been to once before on a not-date two weeks earlier. I remembered the bartenders and they remembered me. I don’t know when or how it happened, but our one glass of wine (the 4th of the night) turned into the 5th, 6th, and 7th. Add an unknown bourbon cocktail and the night was a blur. The waiters began to swarm ad CC and I entertained the barstaff as the night waned. With so many of them the same uniform, names weren’t an option. I decided to number them. At the end of the night, Number 5 invited us out and slipped me his actual number, apparently after I gave him mine. Lo and behold, the little shit called.

The first text I received. I even responded. The second I received, and then I woke up. The next morning, I woke up feeling good. My tummy was a bit wobbly, but I was impressed at how well I could rally at my age. I waited until 10 or so before writing him back. I wanted to meet up with him before CC went home, but after a number of texts back and forth, it was not going to work out. I tried. It was a nice thought.

So 11:30 comes around and CC and I feel death-by-hangover approaching. She has a 3 hour drive ahead of her and decides it’s best to just hit the road. My plan is to faceplant on the couch and wait for death to pass.  My uncle had other plans in mind.

With my Aunt at work, there was ample time for he and I to catch up on life. Specifically my life. Specifically my love life.  “If you mom was smarter she could change your dad. All women have that power. They just have to be smart enough to use it.”  My head was spinning, my stomach in lockstep. “Uncle G, I really don’t want to have this conversation right now. I feel sick.”

“Perfect,” he responded, launching into a conversation that lasted just over an hour.

It meandered through my life from my parents to my childhood, and over to romance. No subject was off limits. “I don’t date.” I told him. “Why would a pretty, smart girl like you not be able to get a date? You should be out dating all sorts of people. You should be having fun.” He was right. Maybe.

“Because I want to date someone Jewish.” It was true. Maybe.

“Really. That’s important to you.” They were statements, not questions. Statements of disbelief. “That doesn’t mean you can’t date non-Jews, though.”

“But what if I fall in love?” It seemed reasonable enough, but coming out of my mouth, I could feel it wasn’t right.

“Did you hear yourself?” (I did.) “What’s going to happen when you’re 40 years old and alone and wonder, ‘What if I missed the love of my life because he wasn’t Jewish?'” The conversation moved on from there, but that point resonated.

A while later, Number 5 (the little shit) actually called. He wanted to get together. He actually had a plan. He called when he said he’d call. He texted me back when I texted. And we had a date. And I went into it with an open heart.

He’s short. He’s Catholic. And he’s nice to me. He may not be the love of my life, but I won’t know what love feels like if I don’t give it a try sometime.

I guess I don’t know, though. Am I compromising? This is the spinster’s dilemma.


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  1. * Carla says:

    Religion has never been a big deal for me, unless they expect me to convert for them (not happening). I don’t see it as compromise.

    Settling for someone who doesn’t make you laugh, that doesn’t love you enough, that doesn’t make you quite happy? Then yep, you’re compromising.

    Religion? I always found that silly. But then again, I’m not a religious Catholic, so who am I to judge.

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 3 months ago
  2. * John says:

    I’m happy that a Jewish girl has taken a chance on this Catholic boy. It’s worked out so far! You shouldn’t settle, but if you find someone you love who isn’t Jewish, well what would be the problem in that? The fact that he’s short amuses me a little bit more than the fact that he’s Catholic. Haha. How is that not the deal breaker?

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 3 months ago
  3. * trinity2 says:

    Give the little shit a chance! He may convert 😉

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 3 months ago
  4. * Emily says:

    Relationships are all about compromise, but you have to know what is important to you not to compromise on as well. There’s no simple answer, and only you can answer it for yourself.

    It is nice to feel wanted, though, and obviously this guy is interested!

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 3 months ago
  5. * ck says:

    Your insistence on dating a Jew might seem tribal and outmoded to some but…

    Case #1: Despite coming from a traditional family, she hadn’t been in a relationship with a Jew in years. He came along and rescued her from an abusive ex and when she got pregnant she figured the child would be Jewish and he had no objection to raising him Jewish so why not? Fast forward 5 years later – the relationship went south. He’s angry and the boy is suffering as a result. It will cost her $18,000 (which she doesn’t have) in lawyer fees just to enforce the court order that the child be sent to a Jewish school and the father is refusing to pay child support. On visitations the child is exposed to anti-Semitic comments and is fed unkosher food. This sort of thing happens all the time.

    Case #2: She was the love of his life and when she insisted it couldn’t go any farther because he wasn’t Jewish, he went ahead and got an Orthodox conversion. Fast forward 25 years and the couple raised 3 kids. Two boys were in the IDF and religious Jews, one daughter was in a long term relationship with a non-Jew and the father decided he could no longer be Jewish because of what the Jews were doing in Palestine.

    These two situations came up just this week. In law school I did a project for a Muslim professor where we documented 1000s of child custody cases where the parents practiced different religions. It was heartbreaking – and in each of those cases, the parents involved started off with the best of intentions too.

    So you know where I stand on these issues. Statistically too studies, which I can cite, have shown that in the US, less than 40% of the children of mixed marriages where the mother was Jewish, even identified themselves as Jews.

    Of course there are always exceptions and a mixed marriage need not mean an end to Jewish life, but if Judaism is important to you, if you see your identity as a precious legacy transmitted to you via an unbroken chain of ancestors who braved all kinds of deprivations in order to do so, then, statistically, the ideal thing is always, at a bare minimum, to marry another Jew.

    But you know what? That’s not even my biggest concern! My biggest concern is why a hottie like you is so willing to compromise not just on your identity but even on basic things like height! What other fundamental compromises are you willing to make just because someone is nice? And why??

    I sense a completely unsubstantiated confidence issue here – one that does not at all reflect reality. I know you’re hella cool, funny, cute, smart – your hair is a light unto the nations – and yet you seem to be always second guessing yourself for no good reason. None. You’re new to Philly and that’s always going to require a period of adjustment, but just say the word and I will hook you up with Jew things to do where you can enjoy personally enriching activities and increase the odds of finding a partner who does not require SO MANY compromises.

    Just sayin…

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 3 months ago

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