I went on a date and was very disturbed when the girl asked me, “Do you want to see my bracelet?” And she rolled up her sleeve and showed it to me.
I was very disturbed. How should I have reacted? Maybe she was just nervous and not thinking straight.
Should I be concerned?
For the purposes of this response, I am going to assume that this unanticipated directive was not jarringly unrelated to the exchange taking place – for example, if it were exclaimed as an immediate answer to an inquiry of whether her father’s real estate holdings are primarily residential or commercial. Rather, I would have to imagine it was either interjected during a lull in conversation, with intent to contest an awkward silence and stimulate dialogue, or was in some way contextually related to what was happening or being talked about on the date.
That said, while I can appreciate the discomfort one might feel due to having been unpredictably prompted to gaze at a young woman’s arm in a manner that might otherwise be considered ungentlemanly or infelicitous – when accounting for one’s cultural norms and standards of modesty – I do not believe this slight foible betokens a noteworthy degree of impropriety or misplaced uninhibitedness. Nor would I go so far as to categorize the young woman as being unable to think straight, as a consequence of her drawing attention towards her jewelry. To me, that seems too harsh an indictment to levy when weighed against so trivial an infraction. And, to be abundantly clear, not only would I posit that to be true within social circles where such an incident would be commonplace and completely acceptable, but even within those aforementioned social circles where this display might be considered an oddity, I would not deem it worthy of further scrutiny.
As far as a proper reaction, I believe it is as simple as courteously replying, “That is a really nice bracelet, you have great taste!” Furthermore, in this particular scenario, perhaps that could be followed up by asking, “Where did you get it? Was it a gift in honor of a special occasion, or passed down from a relative?” Who knows, there might even be a fascinating or interesting story to be told behind this bracelet, and one that the young woman was hoping to relate but had not yet found an opening for. Or not. Either way, it remains a fairly harmless and straightforward back and forth.
Not to mention, it’s great practice for when one’s wife asks whether or not her dress/earrings/sheitel look good. Hint, the answer is always yes. I repeat, the answer is always yes. And even if the honest answer is no, she will figure that out on her own without any spousal assistance, which is safest for all parties.
May the Chonein L’adam Daas furnish us all with the wit and wisdom to know just what to say, and what not to say, in all circumstances, and especially when presented with unexpected duress.