Monday, December 27, 2004

Deconstructing Knishmas

After a most lovely shabbos, spent in the excellent company of one of the cutest couples I know, I got all dolled up to go to Knishmas. I went primarily because I have friends in 2 of the bands, and because another friend was a major mover-and-shaker in putting together this whole event. I got all dolled up because I hadn't gone out in a very long time, and needed the emotional pick-me-up that comes with knowing I look fantastic. Next time, however, I think I'm going in a ratty denim skirt and a sweatshirt.

No one told me that 'Knishmas' translates to 'Attack of the Strange Men' in some African dialects.

It started out just fine. I got there around 9:30pm, and schmoozed with my friends. At 11:00pm, my volunteer shift began. And so did the insanity.

First there was the guy who I'd gone on a pretty dismal date with a while back, who approaches me to ask if he could introduce me to his single older brother. This is slightly odd to me, but actually pretty sweet. It’s nice to know that he doesn't hold any grudge because I don't want to go out with him a second time. But then he stands and flirts with me for a full five minutes, after I'd consented to meeting his brother.

Next we have the nebbishy guy who's introduced himself to me on at least two other occasions. So when he comes up to me this time, saying "Hi, I'm [insert name here]," I try to put him more at ease by saying something to the effect of "Yes, I remember you. We've met before." Not that I have any interest in this man whatsoever, but I hate seeing anyone that nervous. His response? He literally runs away. So much for being gentle.

Then we encounter a guy at the bar, though the credit for this goes entirely to my very cute and less-than-sober married friend. After taking my clipboard away from me, insisting that she would get people to sign up on the mailing list, she starts talking to these two guys at the bar, chatting up the bands and the Kfar Jewish Arts Center. When she mentions that her husband is friends with some of the musicians, one of the Bar Guys looks right at me and asks, "And you? Is your husband friends with the band?" To which my dear friend says, "Oh, she doesn't have a husband! She's single. But isn't she cute?" But the fun doesn't stop there. It keeps going until I'm blushing so much that it's visible in the dim lighting of the bar, and one of the Bar Guys even comments on it. And then my married friend leaves me alone with these guys.

While still stuck talking to Bar Guy #2 (#1 having walked off, which probably means that #2 flashed some subtle signal calling dibs on me), another man approached and starting making absolutely incomprehensible comments to me. For example: I'm wearing a Kfar button, like a good little volunteer. The man looks at the button and says, “What’s Kfar?” I explain that Kfar is a Jewish Arts Center, which brings different Jewish artists and musicians to Chicago. His response, “So I guess I can really express myself now, huh?” Not having any clue what he means by that, I reply, ‘Umm…if that’s what floats your boat, go for it.” Bizarre Man then says, in a very explanatory tone of voice, “Well, you said it was a Jewish arts center.” Still not understanding what the devil he’s talking about, I answer, “Yes. ‘Kfar’ means ‘village’.” He then says, “Right, like a community,” and looks at me expectantly, as though all should now be clear to me. I nod very slowly, since I really have no idea what he’s getting at. Bizarre Man gets frustrated, harrumphs, mutters “Whatever” and stalks off. I still haven’t the foggiest clue what he was talking about.

I finally manage to extricate myself from Bar Guy #2, and seek refuge with my friend Sara. As we're chatting, a man who, judging by the amount of grey in his beard, is easily 20 years older than we are approaches and starts conversation by asking, "So, are you guys single?" Red flag #1. When Sara says that she’s seeing someone, he keeps looking at her and talking to her. Red Flag #2. Finally, he asks our names. The fact that our names rhyme strikes me as very amusing. Picture it: Grey Beard approaches two young, trendily garbed 20-something girls in a bar, and starts hitting on them. When asked their names, they answer “I’m Sara.” “I’m Cara.” It was something out of a bad sitcom. He should have known to just walk away then. For some reason, though, he decided to stay there and try to carry on a conversation. He, too, says something utterly incomprehensible, which contains the words “rhapsody” and “orgy” . When Sara and I don’t really respond, he says, “Come on, that was funny. Right?” (Note: If you have to point out that something is funny, it probably isn’t) Having long since lost the desire to be polite, I simply say, “Well, it was different.” After a few more moments of Grey Beard trying to pull a conversation out of two women who are blatantly not interested, I seek refuge at the volunteer table, knowing that Sara can now escape to her boyfriend.

At 1:00am, my shift ended, and I was free to ensconce myself safely among my friends for the rest of the evening. Again, I find myself in the dilemma of choosing between being honest and being polite. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I don’t want to lead anyone on. By Sunday morning, I found myself wondering what the best answer is, when someone you’re not interested in asks if you’re single. So far, I’ve come up with:
· I’m a robot, and prohibited from mating with humans.
· I’ve taken a vow of celibacy.
· Are you the Keymaster?
· With all the voices in my head, I’m never actually single.

Any suggestions?

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