Thursday, February 19, 2009

Reflections On A Visit To The YU Sefarim Sale

There is a strange phenomenon that spurts up after not having been around large amounts of guys since I was thirteen. The last time I was in a building filled with guys around my own age, I was in eighth grade and the boys were all still little. At the sefarim sale, I was suddenly hyper conscious of every single guy in the room. It was like having a sixth sense for all people of the male gender. I tried to focus on looking at books, but half the time I was glancing up to see what the boys were looking at.

No, stop, no, look at the sefarim. Look - there's one on hilchos muktzah.

I have to say that hilchos muktzah was the farthest thing from my mind at that moment and I only picked it up to give myself something to do. I glanced at the back without even reading it before returning the book to its pile. And here - a boy putting something on the table right next to me! I turned to look and it took me a moment - The Art Of The Date...? That's a book? (Alright, if it wasn't exactly that title, it was something very much like it). I glanced at the surrounding piles. They were all about dating. There was an entire table devoted to books about dating!

I hurried away from that section. Okay, okay, focus. Over there - The Rav! Those are good books to look at!

Eventually I managed to forget (mostly) that there were many males in the room. But it was hard. It was new. I wasn't used to it at all.

After the sefarim sale, D2, M.R., and I went to the C-Store on the guys' campus. That was even worse. It was filled with guys. And this was really actually on their territory - as opposed to the sefarim sale which isn't as much. I felt claustrophobic. They were guys scuffling and joking and - and - not much room for a shy Stern girl and her friends to look around and be awed by the fact that the guys have an actual store on their campus.

I'm not this nervous on dates. I'm really not. But it was rather interesting to notice the effect not being around guys has on a girl. I think when you primarily only see guys in the capacity of "is he someone I can marry?" then you don't know what to do with yourself, or them, when there are many of them at once, most of whom are not people you would conceivably marry. And it's not like I live in an all-girls cocoon either. I'm just not used to large quantities of eligible guys at once.

I suppose it was just strange to suddenly feel like I was in a co-ed school.

Ya know...after this post, I suddenly don't really feel so shtark anymore for having gone to the sefarim sale. It sounds like I was more aware of the guys than I was of the sefarim.


Ezzie said...

Ha. After the post? That was the thought that popped in at sentence #3. :P

What'd you buy in the end? :)

Ezzie said...

More seriously - 'tis interesting, and the effect is a familiar one in reverse that I recall. Not sure if it's a "problem" per se, and obviously on a date it feels like it's not at all an issue or at worse, a minimal one, but I wonder if it does have a strange effect on how we view things and act when it comes to the opposite sex. Or not so much if as what effect does it have... and is that better or worse in the long run.

[Interestingly, in our HS when having a senior series on perspectives, one of the (few) advantages listed for co-ed schools and the like was their overall social comfort with the opposite sex which was considered a + for their relationships later on, from dating to marriage, though it diminished as time passed.]

Special Ed said...

Why didn't you just call me, and ask me to be your buffer

Erachet said...

Ezzie - I got By His Light (based on the teachings of R' Lichtenstein). And for sure it has an effect. I think we become unable to view members of the opposite sex as just people. There is automatically that tension there because you know you're only viewing them as "datable/marriagable" or "not" and there's nothing - or very little - in between. I'm not advocating co-ed here, I'm just noting that this is what happens when there is lack of it. On the pro side, I think this somewhat sanctifies your relationship eventually with the person you end up with, because as we know from Judaism, sanctification comes along with separation, that this person is separate from other guys/girls and therefore sanctified to you. I think. I might have just made that up.

Ed - Good question! Next time I need a bodyguard at YU, I'll let you know. :P

corner point said...

Yes, I do believe it's called The Art of the Date.

Please, please don't read it...


the apple said...

Tip: never wear a hat to the seforim sale! Boys cannot distinguish between the married and the nons.