As I sometimes do, I will now break into my usually scheduled articles and insert this one because of the timeliness of the topics.
The article was typed and ready to be sent to the Queens Jewish Link when the COVID-19 (coronavirus) started to affect everyday life. I will address it here for a moment and will expand on the topic in an upcoming article.
We don’t need to be told to self-quarantine or to isolate or socially distance ourselves from others in order to feel alone. Locked in your house or apartment for weeks at a time and afraid to travel by mass transit or run to the grocery store for fear of contracting a virus that medical professionals can’t pinpoint how it is transmitted or how to cure (at this point) can cause anxiety in even the most “normal” of us. But for those living alone, some may feel doubly depressed because they are single (without company to self-isolate with) and now scared to come into close contact with others. So how does one get around the isolating and try to live a normal life? One thing I am grateful for (among many) is that I was born during this technological time. I can FaceTime and Skype with family, friends, and co-workers. We may not be able to meet face-to-face and have in-person interactions and communication, but we don’t have to cut ourselves off from society. There is no reason that the only face you see on a regular basis is that of the news anchors when you turn on the TV. Even in the shidduch parshah, you can continue dating or “seeing” someone while we are supposed to stay away from groups and human contact. As mentioned, there is Skype, FaceTime, social media, WhatsApp groups, and the telephone. Remember what telephones were originally intended for: communication, not just playing Candy Crush). Of course, spending time with one another is ideal for dating; but in these new, uncertain times, we must find a “new normal.” If you are feeling alone or anxious, call a loved one. If you don’t have access to FaceTime and can’t see friends or family, watch a favorite movie. After all, don’t we sometimes feel like we know the characters and they are our friends? Please don’t feel forced to be alone. Like the AT&T jingle said, “Reach out and touch someone.” People need contact with others. I’ve written about that. Now, more than ever, we need to be there for others and feel a connection. But I will address this in a future column in more depth.
To answer the question, which is the title of the article, I say, “No.” I think it was the last Purim that I was single when I put together an all-red mishloach manos. In it I included a fruit punch juice box, licorice, red jellybeans, strawberry-filled hamantashen, and my shidduch resume printed in red. I didn’t dress up as anything special. Money wasn’t spent on a costume. I just went as regular me – except I added a pair of fairy wings for the whimsical fun of it. So, the theme was technically “Being Redt.” I thought it was cute. I didn’t have to put much thought into it. Others thought it was a cute idea, as well, but some didn’t understand it. One woman called, apologizing, saying that she didn’t know what to do with my resume; “I have no one to give it to.” Obviously, my theme was lost on her. I told her not to worry. My theme wasn’t asking anyone to find me a date. I just thought that while people visit others over the Yom Tov, they may remember someone whom they hadn’t thought of previously, who may be worth trying to set me up with. If not, that’s okay, too – and enjoy the nosh. I was having my own fun during this chag when families and couples often dress up as a theme. I was just me dressed up as myself still on the hunt for my bashert. I didn’t dress up as someone on a safari with net, ready to catch or trap a husband. Like I said, most thought my theme was cute.
But what are singles to do on a chag when so much focus is on family, children, and yes – we get wrapped up in the nonsense of themes and costumes – which is not the point on Purim at all. I always receive emails from singles regarding the approaching yamim tovim or just after the yamim tovim. I know that there are many who include singles as best as they can, and others who are not able to because of family or friend obligations. I am blaming no one or pointing the finger at anyone! Over the last week and a half, I received a few emails from singles regarding their experiences over Purim; some are positive and others are not so positive (but not horrible either). I will share excerpts of some because it’s always nice to hear directly from the source (and sometimes I get tired of hearing my own voice). I know that most are mindful and careful not to hurt anyone intentionally; but sometimes it does happen, and you don’t know the impact your harmless joke or comment made on someone else.
Here’s an excerpt from a man who seemed to take the comment said to him in stride and not to mind it at all.
“…I found a mismatching sports jacket and a loud pair of pants in my father’s closet that haven’t seen the light of day in decades. The invite said, ‘Come dressed up.’ I thought it was a last-minute kind of outfit. My friend’s wife is great and didn’t mean anything by saying that my ‘costume’ looked like I didn’t know how to dress and was looking for a wife who can put me together ‘and dress you like a mentch.’ All I said was, ‘It’s just an outfit I put together for Purim.’ I think she thought her comment may have been taken the wrong way because my friend (her husband) apologized for her later. There was no need to apologize. I know she didn’t make the comment out of malice. I told my friend that everything was fine and I didn’t take offense. He said that his wife thought that she may have insulted him, because once the schnapps started to wear off she thought back and felt bad. But all was fine. Married people have got to chill out, too!”
Another email: “...Anyone who knows me knows I am addicted to I Love Lucy and Lucille Ball. I even went so far as to give a speech in a college class about the show, the characters, the creators, and how it was the first of its kind. I put on a polka dot dress matchbox hat, red curly wig, etc. My mishloach manos was a bottle of “Vitameatavegamin Juice,” a small grape juice bottle that I relabeled and a small loaf of bread to capture those two iconic episodes. I was enjoying myself and didn’t mind it at all when I kept getting asked, “Where’s Ricky?” I joked that he was practicing at the club. But I was asked that question one too many times. After all the partying was over and I was removing the makeup and eye lashes, I, too, wondered where Ricky was. I knew people were going to ask, but I didn’t really care about it while planning out my theme for Purim. Truth is, I didn’t realize how many times I would be asked and how it would affect me in the long run. Here, now, looking at the reflection of the 43-year-old half-made-up face staring back at me in my cramped bathroom mirror, I too wondered, “Where was Ricky?”
I liked the following email. It reminded me of watching the TV show with my sister in our pajamas when we were younger: “…We were invited to a friend’s Purim s’udah. A friend and I dressed up as Laverne and Shirley. She wore the big “L” on her shirt and a blond wig. I had short brunette hair. I even went so far as to hold an empty beer bottle and put a rubber glove on top of it, like in the opening credits. Only older people knew what we were. The beer was empty, but some thought we had emptied it into our mouths because they had no idea what my friend and I were saying: ‘One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!’ We had the best time!”
Lastly, I really liked the following email. The organizers of the event were really thinking on their feet! Maybe it’ll give someone an idea of what to do for singles next year: “…I was invited to a singles Purim s’udah with a theme. Guests had to come as one half of a famous couple like Minnie and Mickey, Lucy and Ricky, Bill and Hillary, etc. The point was that you would match up with your counterpart at the s’udah. There was a list of characters to choose from, and you had to call the host to inform him of who you chose. This way, there wouldn’t be two of the same costume. I went as Han Solo. It turns out that Princess Lea wasn’t so bad. She wasn’t my type, but we had a good time talking. During the speed dating round, I spoke with a Scarlett O’Hara, Jane Jetson, Marge Simpson, Edith Bunker, and Lois Lane. This was an original and inventive event. It got people talking. You had to laugh at some of the couples who ended up spending time getting to know each other, like Fred Flintstone and Cher. I have a date later in the week with Pam (from The Office). This is the first Purim when I didn’t feel bad that I didn’t have someone to dress up with. The s’udah went well and we all had fun, or at least I did.”
I’m glad to see that people aren’t taking themselves too seriously and are able to have fun with a chag that is usually centered around family (because originally Purim was intended for the kids and to make it fun) and they could have a good time. I didn’t get an email from anyone who was complaining or crying about how horrible it was for him or her to be single over Purim. I have received too many of those over the years. I’m glad to see that the tide is turning a bit. I want to thank all of you who emailed me – sorry that I couldn’t publish excerpts from all, but I do appreciate everyone who took the time to send me an email.
Hatzlachah to you all, and stay safe and healthy.