Leisah Woldoff

Might as well live in a cornfield in Iowa

It struck me last week that there’s a large chance I’m not going to ever celebrate my 68th wedding anniversary.

I’ve blown that chance because even if I get married tomorrow – highly unlikely – I would be 101 when that milestone rolls around. I suppose you never know where medical technology will be in 2071, but it doesn’t seem very realistic to count on it.

When my grandparents met, my grandmother was 22 and my grandfather 27. They celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary last month. As the story goes: They met on a Friday, went to a movie on Saturday and were married on Sunday. A life decision made in three consecutive days and they were together until my grandfather’s death this year on July 1.

Sixty-eight years. Since my divorce, I haven’t even made it past a six-month period. And it’s not just me (I admit, I do feel some consolation in that).

The majority of people my age weave in and out of the dating scene at an alarmingly fast pace. They disappear for a month or so then reappear at the next Jewish singles event. A seemingly rare – distressingly rare – amount get out. Why is this?

Last week while clicking through the few channels on my non-cable TV, I came across one of the most recent reality TV dating shows: “The Dating Experiment.”

Basically, strangers place their romantic lives in the control of a red diary that gives them instructions that they must follow. The participants relocate to a temporary home and rely on the diary to progress their relationship – it dictates the type of date they go on, as well as some of their actions.

Something about this appealed to me. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could rely on something other than our own thwarted judgment in relationship matters? Wouldn’t it be welcome to have a diary appear on our doorstep dictating the next move that would be best for us?

In the past few weeks, I’ve heard from a handful of single Jewish women about how bleak the Jewish singles scene is in the Valley. All of the conversations touched upon the possibility of moving out of state – mainly to New York – to meet their mate. Or even out of the country – to Israel.

I understand their lament and definitely commiserate, but at the same time, it makes me angry. Why should we have to uproot our lives and move away to meet someone? Although Phoenix certainly isn’t the Jewish singles Mecca, it’s not like we chose to live in a cornfield in Iowa – Phoenix is a major metropolitan area with a somewhat thriving Jewish community.

If something is “meant to be,” shouldn’t it “be” regardless of where we live?

At the end of each episode of “The Dating Experiment,” the diary tells the couple that they must “part forever.” But after they separate, the diary gives each of them the opportunity to write the final entry – placing their destiny back in their own hands.

Although this may sound far-fetched, I guess in some way, that reality show does represent life. We are offered opportunities at love and the situations are created, but the final decision is up to us.

This article first appeared in the July 11, 2003 issue of Jewish News of Greater Phoenix.