Originally published in PLOTZ, the original zine of alt.urban NYC Jewish culture.  "PLOTZ reads like the twisted brainchild of Coffee Talk's Linda Richman and Kool Mo Dee" said DETAILS magazine.


The Jewish singles scene in Washington, D.C.  In a word, it sucks.  I can't tell you anything you haven't probably figured out already, but here goes.

Say you're a single Jewish guy, not too old, not so young, and you're dying to hook up with a shayna Jewish gal.  Why Jewish?  Maybe you're religious, maybe you think you'd have more in common  . . .  or  maybe you've got this idea that any woman holding out for a Jewish guy is limiting her manhunt to something like three percent of the eligible males out there, and you LIKE those odds.  And you don't want to waste time at those not-really-singles "activities" that well-meaning non-singles are always recommending, -the lectures and theater groups at the Jewish Community Center, volunteering for the homeless.  You don't need to "enrich your life" or "expand your circle of friends."  You wanna go where it says "singles" on the door and the sweet possibility of romance hangs heavily in the air.

Then you're headed for one of the occasional after-work parties and dressier weekend-night dances, staged at bars and clubs by outfits that run the gamut from institutions like the JCC to individual entrepreneurs looking to show a profit.  You'll notice that a lot of these groups and their events have the word "professional" in the title, like the multi-city Society for Young Jewish Professionals.  Skilled artisans, honest laborers and starving artists need not apply.  You'll need a professional's salary not to mind forking over the up-to twenty dollar cover.  For the price of admission you get to buy drinks at a bar you can enter any other night for free -assuming you'd want to go there in the first place- and graze at an anemic-looking platter of "hor d'oeuvres" that runs out after the first twenty minutes and isn't replenished.   To encourage good spirits you'd think they'd spring for some more interesting grub than chopped raw veggies and chips 'n' dip.  They must be so bent on destroying that stereotype about Jews always having something good in the fridge to nosh that they end up giving life to the bigger lie that we're cheap.

The paucity of the eats mirrors the dearth of women.  Forget Reagan-era man shortage agitprop, the college classes that turn young Jews into the professionals infesting Washington are still male majority.  Sometimes the crowd is so overwhelmingly male you'd think you'd stumbled into a gay bar by mistake, except that nobody's having as good a time and the men aren't nearly so good looking or well groomed:  it's a bunch of short, "stocky," balding, bespectacled guys with mustaches, named Neal.  No wonder the women are pissed, despite their numerical advantage.  But you don't let that slow you down; you know you've got it going on better than these schlemiels and besides, you had the foresight to stop off at a favorite bar beforehand and stock up on bottled courage.  You're not afraid to step into the breach and chat up any likely-looking female around.  After all, it's a singles party, and any woman bold enough to stroll on in knows full well she's telling the world she's On the Hunt, that she's got her traps baited and is ready to be approached.

Or so you'd think.  Turns out, Looking means Lonely and Lonely means Loser, so few of the women will fess up to knowing they're at a singles function, even though it said "singles" in the ad.  Ask them about it and they'll swear on a stack of Talmuds that they're not there seeking mates 'n' dates, they're just "hanging out" with their friends, or at least "looking for" their friends, as in, "I can't dance with you now [at a dance] because I'm looking for my friends."  The best thing to do is play along.  Let 'em know that Trolling for Prospects is waaay beneath you, and the only reason YOU'RE there is you thought it might be campy way to kill a coupla hours after work.  Cocktails, anyone?  Drag a friend along to help sell the illusion; if you can bring a female friend, Elaine to your Jerry, so much the better.

Undaunted you press on, and when finally, using your studied insouciance and deadpan wit, you manage to engage a woman in conversation, you'll notice the forlorn eyes of the socially challenged peering out at you from all dark corners of the bar.   What's more, now that you're actually talking to the same woman they've been afraid to approach for the last half hour, they feel free to stroll over and horn in on the conversation you're trying to have,  playing along with the pretense that hey, we're all just here to socialize and make friends, right?   Wrong.  These schnorrers aren't your friends, they're enemies, the competition.   Don't cut 'em any slack.  Don't look at them, don't talk to them, don't give them an in.  Do them like JFK did Nixon in the 1960 Presidential debates, and act like they're not there.

Once you've got her attention, you'll understand why they said "professional."  The most popular question single women ask single men in DC is "what do you do?" and if you wanna come away with a real phone number you'd better have the right answer.  Lawyer is an expected reply, but try not to be employed by the government.  In a town home to Congress and its big-bucks remoras, civil-servant keyboard jockeys command about the same buying power as once did auto assembly-line workers in Detroit.  The salary that might win you a sumptuous home in 90% of the nation's geographic area doesn't go so far in Our Nation's Capital, and she knows full well you'll never be able to put her in that brick colonial in Cleveland Park or Chevy Chase she's had her eye on.  Tell her you work for Uncle Sucker, and watch her eyes start working the room.  Best thing to do is fake it.  If you do work for the government, it's just a temporary diversion, an eleemosynary stop on your fast-track trip to bigger and better things.

The DC Jewish singles scene is so fucked up that a few strange characters have struck out on their own as rogue matchmakers and even gained a measure of misguided respect.  One guy in particular -who shall remain nameless- aspired to fix people up via a handpicked group of singles for whom he'd arrange gatherings, like the "soup party" which featured almost no soup and about two bottles of wine for 20 people.   The guest lists at these parties were maintained with fascistic rigor: forget about bringing an uninvited friend. He'd give out women's phone numbers without asking them first and take offense if they complained.  One woman recalled him telling her that he wouldn't put her in the "first rank" of attractiveness . . . but that was ok because he wouldn't put himself there, either.  I thought this was all a joke, an urban legend, until I heard a guy at an after work party - a tall, good looking, soft-spoken man, a catch by anyone's standards, a DOCTOR, for chrissake- speak of this gentleman in hushed, respectful tones, and lament that he'd been "banned" from this circle because his ex-girlfriend was a member!

That so many aspects of the Jewish singles scene are so bad is no accident, no coincidence.  To be brief, it can only be a conspiracy; a conspiracy to lower the Jewish population though intermarriage, by making it hard for Jews to find each other.  Plots to get rid of Jews are nothing new, what's news is who's at the bottom of this one:  ultra-Orthodox Jews who've no use for the Reform and Conservative varieties.  Hear me out.  I mean the ultra-Orthodox Jews who now want Israel not to recognize conversions performed by Reform or Conservative rabbis, the ones who want to turn Israel into a fundamentalist religious republic, which, as Meyer Kahane said, would not be a pretty thing.  They know they'll never realize their dream so long as Reform and Conservative Jews in the US take an interest in Israel, so they've infiltrated the Jewish singles scene to destroy it from within.  Ultra-Orthodox Jews won't be affected, they marry young and breed like rabbits, and they don't go to after work parties.  What's to be done?  Don't give up.  Keep going, keep trying, and go out with people you think you don't like.  You can't let them win.

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