The Ch’ai Life Britta Lok­t­ing Gets JSwiped

In the wild, wooly world of on­line dat­ing, our hero­ine finds that the ob­vi­ous isn't as ob­vi­ous as you might think.. Part 2 in a se­ries.

Forward Magazine - - Contents - BY BRITTA LOK­T­ING

Re­cently, at a friend’s house party, sev­eral men and women stood at the kitchen is­land. They hud­dled around one guest, look­ing at his cell phone. Ev­ery­one was laugh­ing heartily in that notso-flat­ter­ing drunken man­ner. I fig­ured some­thing hu­mor­ous was hap­pen­ing on the man’s screen, but I couldn’t squeeze in to see. He was sit­ting on a stool, his cheeks flushed from beer. He was a friend of a friend’s boyfriend — one of those — and I sized him up. From his fiery hair, pink­ish com­plex­ion and ap­ti­tude for sto­ry­telling, I guessed he was Irish. Then I picked up a fa­mil­iar word in the con­ver­sa­tion — “JSwipe.” Ap­par­ently, this man was swip­ing through po­ten­tial matches as some kind of per­for­mance for the oth­ers. He also seemed to be craft­ing mes­sages to women, with in­put from the group.

The next day, af­ter the party had died down, I was help­ing my friend clean and I men­tioned this guy. “I’m sur­prised he was Jewish,” I said. “Oh, my God, what? Ha-ha, no, he’s not Jewish,” she said. “He has red hair.” “But he’s on JSwipe.” “Yeah, he cre­ated an ac­count be­cause he’s into Jewish girls.”

I think my jaw dropped a lit­tle. How ge­nius. And a lit­tle creepy, like some sort of fetish. I won­dered if any of the men I had seen on there were pre­tend­ing to be Jewish.

Weeks later, I couldn’t stop think­ing about this guy’s scheme. Women had re­sponded to his passes, and now, when I think back, there doesn’t seem to be any sort of vet­ting process to make sure some­one is truly Jewish. Maybe it’s lax be­cause the founder him­self, a self-pro­claimed “post-af­fil­i­a­tion” Jew, has some vague def­i­ni­tions of “Jewish.”

How would JSwipe check users any­way? Make them up­load bar and bat mitz­vah pho­tos? Scan a re­ceipt for syn­a­gogue dues? Record a song from sleep­away camp? I would pick the par­ody “Har­vey and Sheila” to the tune of “Hava Nag­ila,” a camp clas­sic that will be sung in rau­cous cho­rus at my wed­ding.

As a Jewish girl look­ing to date a Jewish boy, when­ever I meet a man in the flesh (or IRL, as the kids say), I use my knowl­edge about stereo­types to gauge whether this man might be Jewish. Does he have dark hair? A Jewish-sound­ing name? He’s pos­si­bly on the shorter side. Lawyer? How­ever, I log into JSwipe pre­cisely so I don’t need to do this. It’s pre­sumed that not only are all the men Jewish, but also that the user can sift through to find the ex­act “level” of Jewish­ness de­sired.

One Jewish man I met on an app, and briefly dated, tested this ideal. Let’s call him Ben. In my mind, Ben was the per­fect Jew. He was in a Jewish fra­ter­nity, had gone to Jewish sum­mer camp, and suf­fered through a bar mitz­vah (I found pho­tos on­line like any good jour­nal­ist). He seemed cul­tur­ally Jewish, like I am, but not nec­es­sar­ily re­li­gious. One night dur­ing our short-lived fling he can­celed our plans so that he could sit shiva for his friend’s grand­fa­ther. I gave him a pass and re­mem­ber think­ing, “How cute!” Turned out Ben didn’t want to see me se­ri­ously and broke it off. On pa­per, he had been the quin­tes­sen­tial Jewish boy, but not so much in IRL.

I re­cently met some­one else on JSwipe, who I am about to see for din­ner on a se­cond date. He’s pale and lanky with blond hair and an An­glo-Saxon first name. I did, how­ever, dis­cover via Google that his sur­name has Sephardic roots.

On our first date we had a pleas­ant night talk­ing about our fa­vorite tele­vi­sion shows, restau­rants and our col­lege ex­pe­ri­ences. He acted like the Nice Jewish Boy, but I couldn’t be sure. He placed my wine or­der at the bar, gra­ciously paid for the drinks, picked a con­ve­nient lo­ca­tion and seemed gen­uinely cu­ri­ous about my life. But these are all niceties per­pet­u­ated by non-Jews too, and prob­a­bly by in­ter­net trolls.

That red­headed non-Jew from my friend’s party may be on to some­thing. As long as he plays the part of the Nice Jewish Boy, Jewish girls will prob­a­bly still date him. We’re apt to be­lieve any­thing if it fits our fan­tasies. Still, I’m go­ing to sneak in a Jewish-re­lated ques­tion on my se­cond date with the JSwipe man. Maybe I’ll even slip in a Yid­dish word. This is the prob­lem with on­line dat­ing: You never know what sorts of skele­tons peo­ple are hid­ing. I could be a shiksa for all they know.

To be con­tin­ued.

How would JSwipe check users any­way? Make them up­load bar and bat mitz­vah pho­tos?

KURT HOFF­MAN

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