Wednesday, September 21, 2005

What's in a name?

Okay. I have been debating whether or not to update the blog with this particular bit of news. Some readers (specifically, those related to me) are almost certainly going to be a bit annoyed/hurt/upset by this, but it's the only bit of exciting news I have to report. And in the world of blogging, no news is definitely not good news. No news is the road to blog suicide.

Of course, that's partly my own fault. When I set up this blog I made two fatal mistakes. Firstly, I started the blog as nothing more than an online journal, in the (what I realise now was ridiculous) belief that my life warranted the kind of daily exposure that a blog demands. What was I thinking?? Did I really imagine that I could fill a daily blog with tales of wild parties, encounters with celebrities and pearls of contemporary wisdom? If only! What on earth prompted me to imagine that my daily work-childcare-TV-sleep routine would be at all interesting to others? Secondly, I told all my nearest and dearest about the blog which is great in the first couple of months, when the hit-counter is king and you need all the visitors you can get to keep up the momentum and avoid the blog from self destructing. But now, nine (yes, nine) months on, it does make things all rather awkward. How much do I reveal? How much do I disguise? Do I really want people I know to read this stuff? Is it time to pack it all in and start again (only next time, keep it totally confidential?)

But it's too late to worry about that now. In for a penny, as they say. And, if need be, I can always claim the whole thing is wishful thinking and pure fiction. Let's face it, we could all do with some at one time or another. So, here goes. On Saturday night, I had a date. So far, so good. In fact, so far, so very good indeed. The chap in question was (presumably still is) a good-looking, tall, intelligent, doctor (consultant no less), who speaks fluent Hebrew and laughed at my jokes. What more could a Jewish girl (or her mother) wish for?

We met via a certain Jewish dating site that will remain nameless. (Remaining nameless is what the site does best. Every Jewish singleton in London knows about the site. They are almost all registered on it. And those who are not registered secretly surf it just to see who is registered. But nobody ever mentions it. It's the new love that dare not speak its name.)

The said doctor sent me an email via the site and asked me if I would like to meet him for a coffee. And in e-dating protocol, I ignored his message completely until I had checked out his profile, downloaded his photographs, emailed them to a couple of friends for their thoughts, and dissected what he'd written, line by line.

He opened with the classic line "I am not your typical Jewish man". This immediately set alarm bells ringing because pretty much every man on the site describes himself as 'not your typical Jewish man'. Which is ironic, because over 60% of them are lawyers, 75% live in North-West London and 80% are bald. There's even a chap called Jeremy in Borehamwood who scores for all three. And even he describes himself as "not your average Jewish chap". So, needless to say, I was a little wary of his claims to individuality. But there was no reason to doubt. It turns out that he really is 'not your typical Jewish man', mainly because he isn't actually a Jewish man at all. He's a man. Just not a Jewish man. In fairness to him, he did make this clear in his profile. (And his full head of hair and 6"1" height should have given the game away too). But I must admit I did think it was rather odd. I mean, why post your profile on a Jewish dating site if you're not Jewish? What sane Anglo-Saxon male would specifically try to date a Jewish girl? Who are the role models that these men are inspired by? Ruby Wax? Edwina Currie? Monica Lewinsky? (Well, okay, I can see the attraction of a quick Lewinsky on a first date, but you get my point). What on earth would prompt an eligible English bachelor (and a doctor, to boot) to try to find a Jewish girlfriend.

I'm not one to ignore emails (least of all from tall, handsome, doctors asking me if I'd like to go out for coffee) so I replied to his question with a question (well, if he's dating Jewish girls he's gonna have to get used to that). I asked, quite simply "What are you doing on a Jewish dating site?" to which he replied "Having a fabulous time". Well, at least you can't accuse him of dishonesty.

So, we got emailing, and we asked each other all the usual pre-date email stuff - Where do you live? Where did you go to school? What are your brothers/sisters called? And the most amazing thing happened. I realised that I was asking these questions but had genuinely no idea what the answers would be. Usually, when you ask these questions, you don't really read the replies because you can guarantee a combination of 'I live in Hendon/West Hampstead/Edgware', 'I went to school at Habs/UCH/City of London' 'My brothers/sisters are called Simon/Michael/Sarah'. But this was different. There was no second guessing or same 'ol same 'ol about his replies. He's from an area of London that doesn't have 19 synagogues, 4 kosher bakeries and a Jewish primary school. He went to a school that has the word Saviour in the title and his brothers are not all named after Old Testament heroes.

Actually, it was the names that really brought home to me how 'other world' this all was. You think you're an integrated, assimilated member of British society, and then you go on a date with a non-Jewish chap and you realise that there's a whole other world out there. I'm not going to give his name here. I have enough misgivings about all the self-revelation; I'm hardly going to start exposing others. But let's just say that his name was, ethnically, along the lines of Seamus O'Malley. Or Eamonn O'Brady. You get the picture. And when we discussed the names of our brothers and sisters he came up with names like Brendan, Siobahn and Ciaran. Needless to say, there are no Ciaran's in my immediate family. And, by the same token, I doubt he is related to anyone with a gutteral letter in their name.

That said, he was a thoroughly charming person and I had a lovely evening. Would I like to see him again? Possibly. Will it all end in tears? Probably. But was it better than the date I had recently with a Jewish chap introduced to me via a professional Jewish matchmaker? Definitely.

And at least it got me out the house, and, in blog terms, writing about dates with Irish strangers beats updating on the progress of my bathroom or Scrappino's fixation with Freddie Flintoff any day.

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