An elephant in the refrigerator

Mazel tov and siman tov to Ms. Simantov!

Champaigne glasses 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Champaigne glasses 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Once my seven-year-old grandson asked me a riddle. “Grandma, how do you know there’s an elephant in your refrigerator?” “I give up.”
“You see his footprints in the Jell-O!” I remembered this episode when answering the phone last Friday morning. My friend Deborah asked, “So, what’s doing? Anything happening with your kids? Life? What’re you cooking for Shabbos?”
“Oh, everything’s good,” I answered. “Quiet week. No one got arrested, the corner store had a close-out sale on pantyhose so I bought 13 pairs, I got engaged on Tuesday night, and can you give me your sister-in-law’s recipe for pasta primavera” Silence. Clearly, my speaking very fast did not let the little tidbit that I’d been afraid to utter slip by her.
“What??? A sale on panty-hose?”
All right, that last part was a joke. Deborah really screamed, “You’re engaged!!??”
By the time she had stopped weeping (“I can’t believe it!”), shouting (“Ohmygodohmygodohmygod”) and uttering all sorts of mazel tovs in several languages (Felicidades, Gratulojn, Glückwunsch, Congratulations), the accuracy of my suspicions were confirmed: The announcement of my impending marriage was not going to pass by under the radar. But not, I swear, for lack of trying....
When the courtship got more serious and it was clear where we were heading, I said to my beau, “I don’t want to get married to you. I want to be married to you.”
He’s an agreeable sort of fellow and understood my sentiments but, in truth, he’s also very traditional. Patiently explaining that rabbis rarely hand over a ketuba without first performing a ceremony under the wedding canopy, it was becoming evident that we were going to have to “go public.”
From where did this trepidation come? After all, hadn’t I searched, prayed, tried and vied for a second chance at marital happiness? How much money had been spent on wellintentioned dating sites that offered better odds for meeting someone terrific than daily Egged bus rides through the city of Jerusalem? Frumster, Dosidate, and Sawyouatsinai posted my routinely edited essays and accompanying (and graying) photographs. I knew all the eligible men by face, had optimistically gone out with so many and maintained friendships with several. The partner search was often painful, but I vowed not to give up.
Subsequent to finding my fiancé, I was alarmed to realize just how much time I’d spent each day perusing profiles and answering inquiries. Morning, noon, night, if there was a glimmer of hope, a mailbox or a letter from a matchmaker, I’d morph into what-if mode and hope against hope that the proposed Prince Charming would be Prince Good- Enough and possess, minimally, a compatible religious outlook, wry sense of humor, have a generous spirit and know how to use a napkin.
Throughout the near decade that I’ve lived without a husband, I’d gotten close. Yet as close as I’d gotten toward grabbing the brass ring, the merry-goround kept turning, leaving me grasping at air.
Speaking about flirting, about a month before Mr. Romance unceremoniously popped the question, I fudged about the topic with my children.
“Hey, guys, what would you think if ‘Ploni’ and I, ahem, got married?” Silence. Stares. Finally a child whom I once thought was well adjusted spoke up: “Ugh! Nasty! You’re old! We’d have to move. Our bedrooms are in the same hemisphere as yours.”
“Mom, what’s the rush? It’s not like your biological clock is ticking. Last I noticed, your biological clock was probably a sundial.”
“Does he know how to play RummiKub?” “Does he have a criminal record?” “Will we like him?” “Will he like us?” I’d been so absorbed in my own situation that I had given little consideration to how unsettling my marriage might be for my children. After all, they are all adults! They barely speak with me when they are speaking to me. More often than not, any mention of me is usually in the third person and that is when I’m sitting right there at the table. How much of my life actually makes an impact on them at this stage?
I sincerely believe that second weddings should be modest affairs, based on deeper understandings of respect, honor, like-values, and appreciation. And being “engaged” feels so young! So Brides magazine, so Vera Wang and Tiffany’s. I can barely bear it.
And despite the fact that I’m a “public person,” I’ve kept my private life quite private.
What I am determined to do is keep my private life contained and protected.
It goes without saying that, as a writer, there are things to write about other than my plans to marry. But it was pointed out to me that the longer I say nothing, the weightier and more overt the information becomes. In fact, saying nothing seemed more and more like having an elephant in the refrigerator.
A good friend offered a healthy perspective, and I liked what she said. “Andrea, you’ve been single for so long, and you have so many friends who wish it would happen to them but think it is only a dream. You have a chance to tell them that good things do happen.”
In that vein, what I can say is never give up hope. Even on the bleakest days, dress well, smile, and get out there. The chances for a woman to meet Mr. Right on her own are probably about one in 10. But the chances of meeting his sister, his cousin, his mother or his daughter is much, much greater. Say “Hi” and be a friend. Perhaps that new friend will introduce you to someone wonderful. Most important: Be findable: dating sites, parties, concerts, lectures, synagogue.
I recently read a wonderful piece on second marriage. To paraphrase, it stated that when Moses went up to Sinai, he came down with two beautiful tablets, meant to last forever. In anger, they were shattered. When he came down later with the second set, there was greater understanding of the preciousness of the gift. No one got sloppy! Humbly, I thank God for remembering me.
And I thank everyone who prayed on my behalf. My personal prayer list has grown quite long with the names of others who wish to merit a life partner. Let’s pray for one another and, upon hearing of such Heavensent happiness, raise a glass together and say, L’haim! Mazel tov!