I recently went out with a fantastic boy, but something shocking happened on the date. Unbeknownst to me, he had his friend set off a smoke bomb in the hotel parking lot during the date, as we were returning to our car. He feigned concern and said, alarmingly, that apparently his car was going up in smoke. We coughed our way back into the hotel lobby, where he told me that it was just a Purim joke.
Frankly, I didn’t find it so funny right away. But then I calmed down and realized how creative and fun-loving he is. And then I thought of the Chinuch Roundtable question about boys smoking and I figured that it’s better to have a boy who lets off smoke via a smoke bomb than a boy who actually smokes himself.
I also liked that he used pink smoke bombs, which indicates his understanding of femininity, but smoke bombs themselves aren’t very feminine, so it was a weird dichotomy.
And, to his credit, the incident didn’t make it to WhatsApp, indicating his sensitivity and understanding that this was our own special moment, not something to be shared with the world.
It was our sixth date and, ironically, I was very fired up before the date. I just didn’t know that where there’s fire, there’s smoke, if you know what I mean.
Anyway, we’re still going out and I’m actually curious to see what kind of entertainment will be featured on the next date, but I’m wondering about whether marriage is in our future. After all, even though I’m all for fun and games, I’m not sure that I want to marry a clown. On the other hand, at least he’s being up front about who he is. This is much better than marrying a supposedly serious boy who will set off a smoke bomb in our apartment at a totally unexpected time.
I should add that I am two years older than this boy, so the smoke bomb issue might be completely moot in light of the fact that this shidduch would help alleviate the shidduch crisis, which I know from reading the Yated is the absolute deciding factor when it comes to shidduchim.
More concerning to me is that this boy and I discussed the “Ah Gezunte Maidel” story and he loved it. He thought that what the wife did was very smart, shrewd, and necessary to set her husband straight. I said that the story is terrible, mean, and disgusting, and should never have been published. Does this indicate two opposite ways of thinking that can never be bridged? In Shidduch Forum parlance, is it a “deal-breaker”?
I would love to hear the panelists’ feelings about my predicament.
Ah freilichen Purim.
This is a truly excellent question. It is both complex and multi-faceted, and one which requires a great deal of thought in order to address the many aspects of your most singular circumstance. If only we had questions such as these posed to the panel every week.
To begin with, I am going to assume that this rigmarole took place, at the very least, after the start of Rosh Chodesh Adar, if not closer to Purim itself. If that is not the case, and this prank was pulled during some other month, there is reason for real concern. I mean, who pulls a Purim prank in Menachem Av?
Your point regarding smoke bombs being preferable to smoking cigarettes – and I assume the smoking of any substance, for that matter – is well-taken. However, do you really want to settle for a young man who has an affinity for smoke of any kind? Would you not fear that one type of smoke may lead to another? I am not aware of any such chashash bfeirush in the Poiskim, but on a personal level, it may be worth thinking over.
As far as the color of the smoke, it is only a weird dichotomy if you view pink as a feminine color. In today’s political and cultural arena, I would hope you know better than to label any specific colors as gender-normative or gender-conforming. That is quite the slippery slope you may be headed down.
Granted, the matter of the incident not making it to WhatsApp certainly seems commendable, but it is also crucial to know why it didn’t make it to WhatsApp. Was it because he doesn’t have a smart phone at all, or does he have a smart phone, but he doesn’t have the app? If he has a smart phone, is that something that you were aware of before you started dating? Does his yeshiva allow for that? If he has a smartphone, but doesn’t know how to send a group chat, it might make you wonder how resourceful this gentleman actually is. Or perhaps he is a wily fellow, and he has group chats on another software platform and shared the story there?
It is also possible, and hopefully this is what is really at the core of the matter, that he is so concerned about any kind of eyin hora taking hold on the shidduch that he is keeping it completely under wraps. After all, “ayn habracha sholeit ella al davar hsamoi min haeyin” is the same gematria as, “don’t share dating stories on WhatsApp until after the chasunah.”
In any case, I think it is without question that there are a number of pratim which need further investigation before making any conclusions as to whether or not we can applaud this young man for not sharing his prank on WhatsApp.
Now, this is just a small point, but I am unsure if the inverse of the idiom, “where there is smoke there is fire” is factually correct. I do not believe it has any practical nafka minah’s to your query, but it is something that perhaps you should look into at some point for clarification.
As natural as it is to begin pondering what fun and excitement might be in store for the next date, you should also prepare yourself for the possibility that it will just be a normal date. If there will always be an anticipation that each day will be more enthralling than the last, that is a very high bar for anyone to reach. Betimes, it is best to breathe easy and give way to rest and relaxation before the next bit of tomfoolery.
I would recommend then, that at this juncture, you are best served by taking a step back and allowing this young man to have a regular date with you with no expectation of anything out of the ordinary.
Additionally, if you can truly allow yourself to get into that state of mind, should he have another trick up his sleeve for the next date, it will be that much more exciting, being that you had discounted it happening at all. Although, now that I have put that out there, we may have a bit of a catch-22. The point is, don’t dump the guy after the next date just because he doesn’t follow up the smoke bomb with a disappearing building or some other Copperfield-esque shenanigan.
As far as whether or not marriage is the next step with such a young man, it seems as though this was his first prank during the course of your dating, and I am unsure if it is fair to label him a clown due to one Purim schtick played on a date – again, going back to the original assumption that this took place in Adar.
Maybe he is truly the straightest of arrows, and this prank was at the behest of a friend to show you that he does have some flexibility, a sense of humor, and can have a bit of a laugh from time to time? If that is the case, he might be exactly the kind of guy who would set off a smoke bomb in your apartment unexpectedly. A true prankster knows when and where to apply his craft. It is those who are forcing themselves into it that make the error of setting off a smoke bomb while supper is on the stove, two weeks after having a baby, and 20 minutes before Shabbos. You really just never know.
More vital than your age, relative to that of this young man, is whether or not he is an illegal alien. Not the outer-space kind of alien, the not-born-in-the-USA and also not-here-legally kind of alien.
Considering the unrest regarding the status of illegal aliens right now, if you marry him, will he be saved from deportation? Would he potentially be deported to a violence-riddle area? Are we talking sakonas nifashos here? I know it sounds unsettling to marry someone just to save his life, but it is worth taking into consideration.
Furthermore, if you do marry him, and he is an illegal alien, will you have to leave the country with him? Do you know where you might be headed? Are you prepared to make such a move and do you speak the native tongue of his country of origin? Is it a locale with proper Jewish day schools, Orthodox shuls, and supermarkets with a full pantry of kosher food? Is it a kiruv opportunity? Would you still be able to go to your parents for first days of Yom Tov? There is also a distinct possibility that he will be deported and that you will have to stay here; have you put any thought into how you would handle such a scenario?
Given the plethora of challenges that such a situation presents, it would be most prudent of you to look into his citizenship status, along with any and all legal ramifications thereof, before going any further with more dates and any talk of marriage. I am sure you can find a nice Jewish lawyer who will take this on pro-bono, or at least at a highly discounted rate.
As far your age, since you did bring it up, it is true that such a match would help with the shidduch crisis, but pashtus, that is a tzibur inyan, not a yachid inyan. Meaning, hagam that the tzibur must expend great effort to close the age gap, it seems from the achroinim that the chiyuv is not mutal on any yachid in particular.
If you want to delve deeper into the inyan, take a look into the chiluk between the chiyuv of kriyas HaTorah on Monday’s & Thursday’s, on Shabbos, and on Yom Tov, where it discusses the inyan of chiyuvei tzibur and chiyuvei yachid.
Regarding “Ah Gezunte Maidel”, I am entirely unfamiliar with the story, but it sounds riveting, so I will try and track it down sooner than later. In any case, I have not found that differences of opinion relating to obscure fictional Jewish writing, such as this response, have ever had any meaningful impact on a shidduch.
In conclusion, and due to the countless difficulties posed by your narrative, it is my suggestion that you move to Antarctica and raise emperor penguins until the right young man comes along exploring and finds you. B’ezras Hashem, it will not be too long a wait before his arrival.
PS – Bring a warm coat and mittens. Pink mittens might be nice.
PPS – A stash of smoke bombs might be helpful if you ever need anyone to locate you.