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January 24, 2002

A Kosher Kisser

http://www.jewishjournal.com/singles/article/a_kosher_kisser_20020125

I keep kosher, but most of my Jewish peeps do not. To them, Double Doubles with cheese are a basic food group, and pizza without pepperoni is like the Rams without Warner. This is cool by me. I don't want to force my observant practice on my friends. But it becomes more complicated with someone I start dating.

I picked up Todd at a friend's 30th birthday party. He grabbed some cake, I grabbed a beer, he grabbed my ... number. On our first date, we hit up Caffe Luna on Melrose. The night is straight out of "Lady and the Tramp": Quaint table on the back patio, twinkle lights overhead, and Todd is looking so fine. I order gnocchi with asparagus and Parmesan, he orders rigatoni Bolognese. Conversation comes easily, and after a glass of Merlot too many, I'm hoping, dreaming, that he leans over the table and kisses me.

But as my dream becomes reality, Ponch and John start flashing their sirens. You see, technically, kissing Todd during dinner is mixing milk and meat.

And so, I turn to the great rabbis for advice: When kissing, do I have to apply the meat-before-milk rule, and wait three to six hours before Todd's soft lips touch mine? Or does this fall under the milk-before-meat rule, where some rabbis argue that I can simply gargle, swallow something pareve, and then eat -- or in this case kiss -- as I please? Of course public gargling never makes for great foreplay.

What if Todd had ditched the "kosher-style" altogether and ordered chicken Parmesan, a forbidden food? Would Todd be off-limits all night?

Perhaps this is part of some larger Jewish morals scheme. "Kosher" is derived from the root word Kaf-Shin-Resh, meaning fit, proper or correct. Maybe this is Judaism's way of telling me it's not proper for a young woman to snog on the first date.

Now, I'm down with tradition; I'm OK with OU. I do two sets of dishes and two separate sinks. But I only do one kind of kissing. So shortly after dinner, Todd walks me to my door, and I kiss him goodnight. And it's amazing.

But my plight goes beyond simply smooching. What if this passionate kiss leads to another great date and that date leads to -- gasp -- a relationship? At what point in this relationship do we have "The Talk?" I don't want to pressure Todd, but a girl needs to know a guy's intentions. Is he willing to make a commitment? Will Todd care enough about me to stop seeing other meats?

While we're merely dating, a guy can eat anything he wants to. But when I get married, I intend to keep a kosher home. It's how I express my Judaism in my daily life. And it's important to me that I share this tradition with my spouse and, someday, our children. So when my boyfriend becomes my husband, he's giving up more than his bachelor pad and his booty calls, he's giving up his treif. And if my bad Jewish boy doesn't want to be good, then he doesn't really want to be mine.

Of course, men love their food. I can't just spring this whole kosher gig on Todd once we've grown serious. Communication is key in a relationship, so I'm going to talk with Todd now. I'll admit that I come with epicureal baggage, and hope that he's as open-minded as he is cute.

I suppose it would be gastronomically easier for me to only date within my species. But when you consider how hard it is to meet a decent guy, let alone a decent Jewish guy, I just don't think I should limit myself to Kosher Sapiens. And so, if I can't date a fellow crab-evader, I'll have to find a boyfriend who is willing to convert to my ham-dodging lifestyle. Because I don't want to count hours, even minutes, between our kissing and our cooking.

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