Jewish Journal


July 22, 2004

Un-Orthodox Date


What nice Jewish girl hasn't heard this from her mother: "You should meet a nice Jewish boy!"

My mom was no different.

She would constantly urge me, "Go to synagogue. A Jewish mixer. Or a Shabbat dinner. That's where you'll meet lots of nice Jewish men."

But I never cared for organized events. I prefer to meet my men through more everyday-casual-maybe-it-will-happen situations, which is how I met Carl.

I had been hearing about Carl Cohen for years. He was sort of a mystery man that women always seemed to talk about. Frequently, at parties or events his name would pop up in conversation. I had never seen or met Carl, but I was totally jealous whenever I would hear that someone else was going out with him, even though he was just a name.

Then, one night at an art reception, I saw this good-looking man across the room. As he walked toward me, my eyes zoomed in on his name tag -- Carl Cohen.

Our eyes met -- sparks flew. Sure, he had a date clinging to his arm, but I could see they had no chemistry. We had chemistry.

I think his date noticed. As Carl and I began to discuss the nuances of art -- abstract vs. representational, modernism vs. surrealism; Dadaism vs. pointillism and how the paintings in this particular collection would look better hung upside down -- the overzealous blonde glued to his side whined that they had a dinner reservation. ("We should have been at Spago 15 minutes ago.")

She dragged him away and out the door. But I knew he wanted me. I simply had to find him again.

During the next week, I asked around. Some of my friends knew who he was, but no one had his phone number.

Then fate intervened. I ran into an old girlfriend of mine who had taken a Jewish studies class with Carl. She told me that Carl was active in the synagogue, and to get his number, I should call his rabbi, so I did.

The rabbi gave me his number, and I called Carl. He instantly knew who I was. And he was thrilled to hear from me. He asked me out immediately,

"Dinner Tuesday night?" I was excited. This was it.

Now, I am not a religious woman. But the signs were clear. A rabbi had put us together.

Such a beginning. Carl was it. No doubt. The match was blessed. (It would be a Jewish wedding. His rabbi would preside.)

Wrong! The ominous signs came even before our first date.

"Honey. Sweetie." Yes, that's how Carl referred to me during our second phone conversation. I hardly knew this man. But I was already honey and sweetie. I let it pass.

On our dinner date, there were no great bolts of electricity. Still, he was smart and cute -- and a doctor! I'd give it time.

Back at my house, Carl started telling me about his Jewish studies class. It was an Orthodox singles group. Predominantly women.

"Of course," I said. "They all go there to meet a nice single Jewish man like you."

"Oh, no," he replied. "They're very serious about Jewish culture and tradition. They're there to learn, not to date."

"Oh? So you haven't gone out with any of them?" I asked.

"Well, yeah -- uh, maybe a few." He thought for a moment, silently counting. "Actually, five, no 10. But I would never even hold hands with someone I met in the class. You have to respect these women. A man can't touch a woman until they're married. It's Orthodox custom -- you must have respect."

At which point, Carl leaned over and pounced on me. I emphasize pounce. He started kissing me -- open mouth -- with lots of tongue. (I felt like a war-torn Middle Eastern country -- attacked and invaded!)

To be perfectly honest, Carl wasn't a bad kisser. It's just I wasn't ready for a night of tongue sandwiches -- especially not after he'd told me about all those women he respected and wouldn't even hold hands with.

I pushed him away.

"C'mon honey," he urged. "We'll have a good time. I like you, sweetie."

He lunged for my body. I lunged for his coat -- and pointed him to the door!

After he left, I thought back to my mother again, and what she'd taught me when I first started dating -- the man and the cow and the free milk, etc.

Did Carl consider the girls in his Jewish studies class the cows, and was I the milkmaid? That didn't seem kosher to me. And I should know. Even if my last name is Anderson, I'm a nice Jewish girl, too.

But what if Carl was just using me for "practice?" Well, no thanks, "sweetie" "honey" "sugarpie Carl." Because, guess what? I don't want to be the rehearsal, I want to be the main event.

So much for divine intervention. Maybe my mother had been right all along. The next week, I joined a synagogue. I went to a Jewish mixer. And even a Shabbat dinner. Which is where I met lots of nice single Jewish women -- who all had gone out with Carl Cohen!

Marilyn Anderson is a screenwriter, TV writer and author of "Never Kiss a Frog: A Girl's Guide to Creatures from the Dating Swamp" (Red Rock Press, 2003). Her Web site is www.neverkissafrog.com and she can be contacted at Frogerella@neverkissafrog.com

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