Back on the Chain Gang

I recently decided, after a somewhat lengthy lull, to start dating again.

The decision to get back “out there” was as much the product of the realization that a next generation of melchetts is unlikely to spring from my domestic bliss with Stuey and Dexxy – who, perhaps unsurprisingly, appear to have no problem whatsoever with my staying single – as it was about the discovery (bitter-sweet) that I still had a month remaining on a frozen, and forgotten, subscription to JDate, the international(ly notorious) Jewish dating site.

“I found a picture of you, oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh”

After less than a week “back on the chain gang,” however, life with my canine flatmates is appreciated more than ever . . .

First, on Friday evening, was a blind date in Neve Tzedek with Efrat, whom the wannabe shadchanit (matchmaker), a friend (still), informed me had recently split with her boyfriend. And it was great: good beer – I got inebriated (though convivially so) – and good chemistry . . . all followed, a day or so later, by the inevitable “I’m not ready” line (Efrat claims that she told me on the night, but who can remember?!)

“Now we’re back in the fight, we’re back on the train”

. . . though it already felt like I had never been off!

Next, on Sunday evening, was Anat (JDate this time), an English Lit. doctoral student, who – a couple of hours before our scheduled meeting, and only in response to my text message to fix the Givatayim venue – cancelled without explanation.

“A circumstance beyond our control, oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh”

Then, on Tuesday morning, I met Vered – again through a friend (though, on this occasion, less likely to remain one) – on Nachalat Binyamin. The early indications were that Vered was a sensitive soul: seated inside the café, she had put on her shades to conceal her tears as she related her terrible treatment at the hands of her landlady (who had just, after ten years of impeccable tenancy, and without good cause, given her notice). I was touched (well, a little).

On regaining her composure, Vered moved onto her self-proclaimed “ruchaniyut” (spirituality). In fact, Vered is so f*cking spiritual that she felt the need to inform me that dogs are the reincarnations of sinners. “You may laugh,” she said, as she spotted the first twitch of my cheeks. So I did.

Then, perhaps fearing that I did not yet think her sufficiently inane, Vered opined that the demise of my late brother, Jonny, was not really down to drugs – as I had explained – but to something deeper. I was not laughing anymore and, after promptly ordering the bill, let Vered pay her half.

“Got in the house like a pigeon from hell, oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh”

Late that afternoon, I also met Shira (JDate again), who – as we were enjoying a perfectly pleasant conversation on a park bench in Gan Me’ir – appeared to start suffering some sort of breakdown (though I suspect it must have commenced sometime earlier).

“Bring me to my knees when I see what they’ve done to you”

The warning signs had probably been there that same morning, when Shira had cancelled our planned lunch date (though, once again, only after I had phoned to finalise the location): “I just can’t do it anymore,” she cried. “I have taken my profile off JDate.”

“the wretched life of a lonely heart”

To preclude the temptation to send Shira a text message – informing her that it might have been a little more considerate if she had called to let me know (you cannot, I am told, teach people . . . or Israelis, at least, manners; though I have never quite understood why) – I deleted her, at once, from my phone. Shira did, however, then call in mid-afternoon to let me know that she had, once again, changed her mind. And, seeing as I had only been on the one date that day, I decided to give her the benefit of the (mounting) doubt.

The encouraging news is that there is still Michal to come: a mother of one, The Great Divorced Hope, if you like . . . but who, with every new telephone conversation, gives a stronger impression that someone is forcing her to remain on JDate at gunpoint. Michal offered me a “quick coffee” yesterday evening – a tactic, facilitating a quick getaway, I can’t complain about, having invented it – but with all the enthusiasm and conviction of an England footballer taking a penalty kick.

My JDate membership really will expire, this time, on 16th February. And the 129 shekels-a-month required to renew it will likely, instead, go on discs, Goldstar, good food, and perhaps even some new toys for the beasts . . . the sane (Stuey has never been formally certified), predictable and lovable ones I already know.


30 responses to “Back on the Chain Gang

  1. As I have mentioned, graduates of my yeshiva occasionally consult me about the art of dating. If we exclude Saturday night beers with the author of this excellent blog, I believe that my last real date was back in 1983. The world was a different place, but in the unforgettably meaningless words of the song, “A kiss is just a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh. The fundamental things apply. As time goes by..”

    I firmly believe, though nobody usually listens, that a first date should be all about having fun. You should go somewhere and do something. If you enjoyed it, have another date. You should get to know each other gradually as in any other friendship. Once you decide you like each other begin to talk about the heavier questions of life.

    The cup of coffee, job interview format is not suitable for everyone, particularly those who don’t interview well.

    Regarding reincarnation as a dog, I know of no authentic Jewish source for such an idea, though I do recall one of your canines mumbling something about us all being Jewish pigs.

  2. GREAT ONE MIKE!!!! – thoroughly enjoyed reading this and also, to be honest… a bit relieved that I am not alone in dealing with dating dramas from hell….
    Good luck!!

  3. I’m guessing Vered ordered organic, FairTrade, Nepalese co-operative herbal tea

  4. Or you take me out for dinner. I promise no breakdowns this time and it is rather unlikely my landlord will kick me out…………and Stuey and Dexxy – do not I just love them 🙂

  5. Ellis Feigenbaum

    Mike ,
    A wise man told me that everyone should be married once in their life, because no one has the right to be happy their whole life. 😉

  6. Thank you for that, Ellis . . . “Those were the happiest days of my life” was one Back on the Chain Gang quote that I didn’t manage to fit in!

    Daniel, much as I appreciate the wisdom that only decades of experience of the fairer sex can bring, your comments do sometimes remind one of the way Only Fools and Horses’s Uncle Albert would begin every story with “During the war” (which he pronounced “war-wa”) . . .

    And your advice – “that a first date should be all about having fun. You should go somewhere and do something. If you enjoyed it . . .” – brings me onto Amsterdam’s finest . . .

    Tamar, with our history (as I hope you may still recall), my taking you out for dinner cannot fulfil its main goal . . . not for the first time, at any rate! 😉

  7. Great post Mike. As a fellow solicitor of jdate I can empathize to a high degree! I recently met a cracking lass in her 20s, Israeli, smart, provocative and of the expected attitude one might expect given the above description. After a long volley of mails and calls she informed me that jdate was not for her and that despite being a good match she could not bring herself to get involved with a guy she met online.

    Fair enough, I understood her sentiment. However, nestled at the bottom of her final mail was a request to contact a guy on jdate on her behalf… her being a struggling student n’all, she didn’t want to renew her subscription but nonetheless liked the cut of this arse’s gib and inquired if I could act as some type of online shiduch making pimp. She reacted badly to my comment that the price of decency was roughly equal to a one month subscription and promptly informed me that I had blown any chance I had to be with her. Israeli women, how do they come up with these gems?

  8. Unbef*ckinglievable! And I thought I had heard (if not experienced!) them all. I would have been a lot less civil than you were. Perhaps we should start a support group, JDaters . . . Anonymous, of course!

    I often wish I had kept a written note of my JDates: would have made a bestseller, variously categorised as “Comedy,” “Horror,” “Adult” . . . though only very rarely “Romance”!

    Have you read these, Anon?

  9. Mike & Ellis
    Last night I heard a nice line, that the reason the Shulchan Aruch states that among other criteria a Chazan should be married, is that he should be able to daven “mi-toch lev shavoor”! 🙂

  10. “Lev shavoor” (heart broken) is more us singles, David . . . marriage (sometimes), I fear, is more a case of soul destroyed! 😉

  11. albert de gogan

    You tell her to come in sit down
    But something makes you turn around
    The door is open you can’t close your shelter.

    Listen to some Cohen, and chill out.

  12. I had never seen “Only Fools and Horses” until recently and though I didn’t particularly enjoy it, I realized with hindsight, that I make have been overly offended at having being labeled a “dipstick” by the author of this excellent blog some time ago.

    Regarding your “During the war” observation, the point is well taken and I shall henceforth refrain from offering him unsolicited advice on matters of the heart.

    Be in touch with Ellis, who without a doubt has much more recent experience on the subject of courting than I, as well as the phone numbers of many beautiful and intelligent ladies.

    He assures me that they all take cash, cheque or credit.

    Have a great week,


  13. 5 dates in 7 days – impressive!
    Wondering if the ‘attitude’ of the women is related to being Israeli, age, religious sensitivities, source of referral, or other factors.

  14. Welcome back, Mark. You have been missed.

    Yes, I did a cram rather a lot into the first week. Beginner’s enthusiasm!

    The behaviour is, I believe, the product of:
    – being an Israeli woman (who has had to deal with too many Israeli men)
    – a Tel Avivit
    – too many dates
    – disillusionment from being single for too long

    Much more straightforward for your “lot”: a nice tush, a little wiggle . . . and bob’s your uncle! 😉

    No, Daniel, I appreciate your advice. My point was that, on occasion, you repeat it without any seeming attention to the particular circumstances. With the women above, the problem was less the “format” (as you call it) of the date than the fact that they were unreliable and/or mental!

  15. “Much more straightforward for your “lot”: a nice tush, a little wiggle . . . and bob’s your uncle!”

    lol – sure if you’re looking for a quick roll in the sack – but for those looking for a meaningful relationship, probably more challenging since many guys (straight or gay) are just looking for that ‘nice tush, & little wiggle’.

    Sounds like you might need to date outside of Israel, and import.

  16. Hi Mark,

    There might have been a time, though I recall it not, when wiggling one’s tush was an easy and surefire way to charm romantic partners, but as I near 50, I ask you, who of us can still wiggle?

    This writer gets back aches after driving more than 20 minutes and half of his morning minyan regularly refuse hagba’ah citing spinal pains. I dream of wiggling!

    On an unrelated note, you would have been so proud of me this Shabbat morning as young Ariel and I popped our heads around the door of the new Maale Adumim Conservative service and almost stepped in. They looked much more Orthodox than we had expected with kippot, taleisim and occasional beards – and that was just the ladies!

  17. Must have been long “beards” . . . for you to spot them beneath those skirts.

  18. Why talk about your late brother with people who never knew him?

    Many of them won’t know how to respond. The sensible ones will keep shtum for want of a good answer. The idiots will say something stupid and the Vered’s will have Glenn Hoddle moments.

    Talk about the dead with people who knew the dead well. They’ll have a far better chance of being able to respond appropriately and share good memories. Otherwise talk about the living.

    Good luck!

  19. How about a “Greatest XI Worst Dates”???

    Dovid, this one of those moments, when one must just allow a stupid man like you to be left alone without responding because there is nothing besides what you say yourself that illustrate more of what you are.

    I thought the Jonathan story was the only thing I have read here (I haven’t read much) worth anything. In that blog MonsterMadness wrote about something he knew and experienced and he wrote it eloquently with purpose. Sometimes he makes horrible judgements borderlining on racist and xenophobia rants about Israelis.

  20. Why talk about your late brother with people who never knew him?

    I don’t bring it up, Dovid. But if a woman asks whether I have any brothers or sisters – which I think is normal when you are getting to know someone – I tell her. And if she asks follow-up questions, I answer them. I have nothing to hide. Perhaps it is even a good way of identifying (what you call) “the sensible ones.” But thank you, anyway, for your advice.

    As for you Ari, or Bad Smell (you won’t go away) as I prefer to call you, before you start abusing Dovid (as you have others here), you might want to take a good look in the mirror. Or, at least, at my stats: As someone who has contributed no less than nineteen comments to this blog (since you were fortunate enough to discover it in August), you clearly like it rather more than you let you on.

    “I haven’t read much”

    No? Interesting that those 19 comments have been to no less than thirteen different posts.

    “Sometimes he makes horrible judgements borderlining on racist and xenophobia rants about Israelis.”

    Like that many are rude, ignorant and humourless, you mean?

    If you are not enjoying melchett mike, Bad Smell, I am sure you can find material and company more your level in the Ynet (Idiyot) chatrooms.

  21. Mr Marks, there are AFAIK authentic Jewish sources for reincarnation of humans as animals.

  22. Hi Daniel,

    Feels like you often reference your age as the primary reason for low energy, inability to engage in everyday activities, lackluster energy, and invisibility to the opposite sex (or same sex for that matter!).
    Perhaps it’s time to hit the gym instead of the blogs and books?
    Isn’t there some halacha governing one’s responsibility to live a healthy life. Care for the body as well as the soul?

    Coming to Israel in a couple of months. Perhaps we could go on a jog after you slaughter me in chess.

  23. Ste

    You may well be right. I’ve never heard of anything of the sort outside the Kabala – but I’ve hardly heard of everything and have yet to finish the Talmud.

    I guess I should qualify what I meant. When I said authentic Jewish sources, I was basically referring to the Torah, Mishna, Gemara, Shulchan Aruch and various interpretations of these books – also anything else universally accepted and prescribed reading for us laymen.

    Various books on mysticism and Hassidism, while accepted by many, are generally rejected by more. Furthermore, they are usually not intended to be taken literally and the former are not meant to be studied at all, but by the very learned few. The story Mike tells of the nonsense his date spoke illustrates far better than I ever could, why Zohar is the exclusive domain of those who are capable of understanding it.

  24. Mark,

    I’d love to see you. As far as your jogging is concerned, I’ll give you directions and we’ll be waiting with refreshments when you arrive.

  25. Yitzchak Landau


    Reading this entry and your various others on the same theme and Israeli culture in general, I couldn’t help but be reminded of another lyric which, as a Leonard Cohen aficionado, you might adopt as your signature tune!

    “I’m sentimental, if you know what I mean
    I love the country but I can’t stand the scene”

    Mazal Tov on your impending 300,000th hit (I was 299,997 so you may have already reached it by the time this comment is registered) – “kein yirbu” as they say!

  26. Ha Ha!! 🙂
    That’s a good one Mike!
    Wow, and i thought women are going through the worst experiences… I’m glad to know, that in spite of the fact i’m: an Israeli woman + a Tel Avivit + had too many dates = which are 4 out of the 5 facts you had mentioned – I’m still sane and hopeful!
    Hope you will stay optimistic and your dating journey will end real (real!) soon..!
    Do not despair 😉

  27. Mike the UK version of this blog has an advert for UK farmer dating. Perhaps a woman from farming stock might be worth looking into. They are renowned for an uncomplaining ‘can do’ attitude with no hidden agendas. Also excellent breeding stock and guaranteed to adore your dogs.

  28. A UK farm girl sounds wonderful, Jonathan! And, as the husband of an extremely low maintenance woman, I was wondering whether she might allow you to vet a few potential candidates for me before my next visit to Blighty? Have a word, please, if you would . . .

  29. I can so relate to this . . .

    “If by some chance she’s going to get over her anti-Semitism . . . odds are, not with you.” 😉

  30. i laughed out loud. it was an entertaining read – so even if the dates didn’t work out you at least had entertained readers.

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