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The Quick & Easy, 150 Coffee Date Way to Lasting Jewish Love

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Is there a 12-step program for Jewish singles? If so, sign me up for the JDA – Jewish Date-aholics Anonymous. Not, mind you, that I’m addicted to dating. To me, dating is only a means to an end. I can stop any time I want to. No, really. I’m just using it. Having my way with it. Then, when I find my Beshert, I’ll kick dating to the curb, like an expired box of Manishewitz® matzo. But I’m spending so much time and energy dating that it sometimes feels like an addiction. Or at least another career. If only it paid. And didn’t involve so much time at Starbucks®. And didn’t require at the end of each meeting having to come up with a polite way to say, “It’s perfectly okay with me if we never see each other again for the rest of our lives; in fact, I’d prefer it.” Which usually emerges from my careful-to-be-tactful mouth in this fashion:  “Very nice meeting you.”

In the first three years following my divorce, I went on 150 coffee dates. And by coffee dates I’m using the standard Merriam-Webster® dictionary definition:  “first-time meetings, usually ending in disappointment.” And I’m an optimist, mind you. Now, I realize that 150 coffee dates sounds like a lot, but spread out over three years, it’s just one a week. Of course, depending on the person, fifteen minutes with the wrong person for the first time can seem like one week. But I learned something very important from those 150 coffee dates. I learned that if I had saved all the money I spent on them, I could have planted 1200 trees in Israel. Granted, four of the dates resulted in relationships. But 146 of them resulted in “Very nice meeting you.” And a thorough knowledge of the differences between lattes, cappuccinos, and caramel macchiatos. If only that paid.

Sometimes I think this dating odyssey is God’s way of getting back at me for never having taken chemistry in school. He’s making it virtually impossible for me to find chemistry with my potential soul mate. Is mutual worship and adoration too much to ask? Of course not. You can ask for it all you want.  Getting it – now that’s the trick. Either they’re not attracted to me or I’m not attracted to them.  Sometimes they show up without a sense of humor, without a sense of playfulness, without even the realization that someone else is sitting across the table from them. They’ll talk for a full hour about themselves without asking one question about me. Astounding. At least they’re setting their red flags up on the table right from the start. I thank them for that.

I do like the variety, though. I’ve gone out with a judge, a cantor, a masseuse, a teacher, a network executive, a nurse, a college student, a speech therapist, a doctor, an actress, a psychologist, a lawyer, even a forest ranger.  I’ve had a first date in an art museum that featured life-sized, anatomically correct male and female mannequins. One date, as soon as we sat down to brunch, removed a digital scale from her pocketbook and proceeded to weigh each item of food that was served.  At one Starbucks, I sat waiting an extra half hour for my date to arrive, even though she was already seated a few tables away, because she looked so different from her profile’s photo that I could not believe that this was the same person. Finally, I approached her and she confirmed that she was, in fact, my date. Though to this day, I remain unconvinced that she was not my date’s mother.

Remember that Seinfeld episode where Jerry gets in trouble for being spotted making out with his date during Schindler’s List?  A recent date suggested, as a first date, that we see The Pianist, another Holocaust-themed movie. Beautifully done, very powerful and moving, but somehow doesn’t quite set the desired mood of romance for kicking off a romantic relationship. Oh, sure, I did what I could to salvage the mood afterwards, with such comments as, “My apartment’s in much better shape than that labor camp,” “We Jews really have to stick together – wanna come home with me”? And, as a last resort, “How about a screening of The Diary of Anne Frank for our second date?”, but to no avail.

And though I’ve done my share of rejecting, I’ve also experienced my share of being rejected. At first, I’d take it personally. Now I consider it part of the process. Often, women can’t bring themselves to say, “Sorry, not interested” to my face, so they’ll lie. In one case, when I asked about the possibility of a next date, she responded, cheerfully, “Call me!” I did and never heard back from her. Now when I hear a cheerful “Call me,” I realize it’s the kiss of death, not unlike that given by Michael Corleone in The Godfather. My favorite kiss-off, though, happened recently. I brought up the subject of a third date, and actually heard these words come from her lips, “I’m going to be really busy in December.” Wouldn’t a quick slap across my face and knee to the groin have made the point more directly?

Then there are the ones who haven’t quite mastered the tactful means of breaking off a long-term relationship. To my mind, there’s just one way to do it right: face-to-face, honestly, acknowledging the person’s wonderful qualities and the great times had together. The wrong ways: disappearing without a word, doing it over the phone, emailing a “Dear John” letter, sending big brother Sonny Corleone to bounce some metal garbage pails off my head. Okay, that last one hasn’t happened. Yet. But, come on, ladies, acknowledge the good. And act like a mensch. And if they’re open to it, I enjoy staying in touch with them even after the relationship is over. In some ways, you can become even better friends – with the added bonus of hearing about all their subsequent dysfunctional relationships.

So why go through all the pain, the aggravation, the expense, the wasted time, the same interview-like questions, over and over again? The singles websites, the Speed Dating, the Great Expectations, singles events, personals ads, blind dates, coffee dates, matchmaking services, friend set-ups.  Am I a masochistic? Am I a serial dater so addicted to the process that I consciously or subconsciously never intend to settle down with one of them? I don’t think so. I’ll tell you why I go through it all, and why I’ll continue to go through it all. It’s because I’ve experienced a relationship when it works. In fact, I’ve been lucky enough to have had more than one relationship in which both people worship and adore one another. Now, I’m guessing that for most people these kinds of relationships don’t happen often. But when they do, it’s special, exciting, stimulating, life-enhancing.   It’s magic.  And I know she’s out there somewhere, perhaps even looking for me. All I ask is that at the end of our first date, she doesn’t look me in the eyes and say, cheerfully, “Call me!”

Mark Miller is a marketing specialist, Facebook fanatic and comedy writer who has performed stand-up comedy in nightclubs and on TV, written on numerous sit-com staffs, been a humor columnist for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate and is a current humor columnist for The Huffington Post. But he says he’d trade all his success away in a minute for immortality, inner peace and limitless wealth.
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12 Comments »

  • Robert says:

    SO TRUE! It IS like an addiction. I come home from shopping; I have laundry to do, gardening, etc…what do I do? Get on line and check my mail.

    But the addiction is an interesting one. Ken Keyes (“Handbook to Higher Consciousness”) says we need to make our addictions “preferences”…we need to “not need” to desperately do something…just prefer it; so if we can’t get it we don’t suffer.

    And yet we gleefully “suffer” this addiction.

    But isn’t it about one of the reasons we live…to find a mate? To create a family with that mate? It’s like “I’m addicted to air and water and finding relationships”…. it’s kind of a necessary addiction…we don’t carry on without it.

    I guess you can say the fewer dates you have, the fewer pictures you post, the fewer times you check the mail, the less addicted you are. I want to say I’m not addicted. I love the search…yet it’s sad, yet challenging…exciting yet depressing…invigorating yet disappointing. So am I suffering from my addiction?

    Good question!

    But that’s life, I guess? What’s the alternative?

  • Laszlo Dobbermann says:

    Anna, you blow your hair for $60 for each coffee date… but do you prim yourself equally well for each minute in the duration of a long term partnership?

    I.e. it is acceptable to me for both parties to put our best features out on a date, but if it takes that much money to make you attractive, who can afford you?

    If you say, without saying it, of course, “this is what I look like” and it’s actually $60 worth of investment each time to look like that, is that a good approach when you show up to a first date, each of which having an equal chance of developing into a LTR?

    It’s like falsies for women, or heightening shoes for male midgets.

    It’s like lying on an investment prospectus or committing perjury in the witness box.

    I say DO NOT straighten your hair next time you go on a date, a coffee date, and I strongly suggest that you negotiate a $20 cash-up-front fee to offset 50% of your babysitting expense. Unless the guy has two kids, in which case his cost is $80 for babysitting, so you’d need to give him $20, site unseen, before the date would even begin. Twenty bucks, upfront, or ship out, buster.

    In order to keep things completely fair, if preemting the whining is a prerequisite for you and for your coffee date.

  • Deb says:

    Hahahaha. I needed to read this. Very laugh out loud funny!

    I had a friend who agreed to meet a man from JDATE and a clown showed up. He offered her flowers, and she said, “WHOOO are you”. He said, “Why, your match date”. She said, “Thanks, I am leaving”. He said, “Won’t you at least have dinner with me”. She said, “Your a clown!” He said, “Yes, I wanted to be completely truthful with you”.

    I asked, (even though I was confused- funny how you can ask a rational question right in the middle of the most ludicrous conversation), “Did you have dinner with him?” She look at me as if I had lost my mind, and said very slowly, ” H e was a CLOWN!”

    I would have had dinner with him.

    Deb

  • Denise Marks says:

    Hi Mark,
    Why can’t I meet an adorable and funny guy like you?
    I really enjoyed your article. It’s all so true!

  • Marnee says:

    Hi Mark!

    I’d love to date you!

    M

  • Anna says:

    Ugh, when a woman says call me, at the end of the date, it means she is interested. You had 4 relationships in three years, following your divorce. That is pretty good. Some people cannot even have one. And I agree with Israeli woman, who commented, on your article, 15 minutes is really not enough time. Even if there is no chemistry, and even if she is hideous and does not look like her picture, at least 1/2 hour is a decent amount of time to spend with someone. Maybe you spend more time, and just wrote that, so I am not sure. Women go through horror stories from being stood up, to men meeting them and saying they think she is unattractive and walking away, to being propositioned for sex, to being told what to wear or how much makeup to put on, etc . . . All these things have happened to me, but I am not writing a blog kvetching on it. I am not quite sure what the point of your article is. Most men would be so lucky to get 150 coffee dates, and why only coffee? You say you could have spent all that money and planted 1200 trees in Israel. I am not sure what your point is. When you got divorced, whether it was your choice or not, you knew that you would have to go through this. I spend over $60, on my hair being blown straight, and an average of $40 for babysitting, to go out on a date. And I can assure you, sir, that even if there is no connection, I give that man at least an hour of my time. So save your complaints and write about something else!!!!

  • Michaela says:

    Hi Mark,

    I like your writting, it’s so true. I love your sense of humor too.
    You are amazing and very talanted.
    Please, keep writting.

    I’ll “see you” around :-)

    Thank you.

  • Mindy says:

    Mark, I love your sense of humor and your attitude. Yes, dating can be exhausting. I find just going through my J-date in box exhausting and that’s before I even walk out the door. I’ve been putting off going on dates but I think now I am going to charge forward.

    Call me! lol

  • fellow dater says:

    This is hilarious because it is so true. LOVE your writing Mark. BRAVO!

  • Miss S, Israel says:

    Hi,

    I actually write a blog, for an Israeli dating site. Mostly, it describes my experiences in the dating world, in a humorous manner. I have enjoyed this piece, and I most certainly sympathize.

    Gotta tell ya: hearing the cheerful “call me” after an hour’s worth coffee, is something I only dream about. Israeli men are like beasts. The guy that picked me up yesterday evening, a well bred and educated who goes to shul every shabbat, actually stopped the car after 2 minutes, telling me he doesn’t feel like going anywhere together, since he doesn’t dig me.

    Hearing his “sorry” & his very intelligent explanation, that he wishes to save us both time, did not erase the humiliation in this form of rejection, which included a very vein grin he gave me. I recommended he takes some manners classes, and walked away, because he didn’t even offer to take me back home.

    I have no bad breath, I am slender with curves in all the right places, I work out, I look good, and I am smart and interesting. My profile pictures are current and nice. They do not include my mother.
    My only sin is that I wish to meet a nice man, and for some reason, guys see that as something they can ridicule or use to pump up their already over sized male egos. I don’t expect to be every person’s cup of tea, but we humans do have some standards that distinguish us from the animals.

    Count your blessings. It’s better to hear a “call me”, than receive an insult from someone that doesn’t even know you.

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