Lauren, who’s 35, reminds me of a Brooklyn Jew from my grandma’s generation. Not the mild-mannered, sweet- talking bubbe — but more the sharp-tongued Brooklyn Jewish grandma who has no problem telling her granddaughter she’s dressed like a whore and then giving her a kiss on the head and asking if her bubbeleh is hungry. At least that was my grandma.
Lauren got that straight talk from her own mother, who once said to her over dinner, “You know your t—- are on your waist. You need a new bra.” Although, Lauren talks tough and can dish it out as well as she can take it in, she’s still sensitive. In high school, the kids called her “Gonzo” because of her big nose. “It got to me after a while.” Her mom gave her a choice for her 17th birthday — a nose job or a car. It turns out, Lauren’s much more practical than she is vain. “I said, ‘I’ll take the car. This nose was meant to travel.’ ”
She was raised just outside of Philadelphia and lived in New York for seven years, working in Medicaid for the elderly, and later working in a private nursing home. She fell in love with an Israeli jazz musician, whom, despite her mother’s protestations — “his socks don’t match” — she ultimately married. It was her husband who signed her up for an open mic night because he knew she loved stand-up comedy. “We were really good to each other.” But the marriage didn’t last. “It wasn’t horrible or ugly — it just fizzled out. It was like breaking up with a boyfriend.” She jokes, “I love Brooklyn because everything was within walking distance. Even my divorce.”
She took the divorce as an opportunity for change. “I love city life, but after seven years in New York, you’re just spinning your wheels.”
So she moved to Los Angeles. “I figured L.A. would be fun. I pictured myself in a bungalow somewhere taking writing classes.” Instead, she works in stand-up comedy at night and spends her days as a cashier at a bakery and a personal assistant to a writer. The most West Coast thing she does is a Bikram yoga class three days a week. She doesn’t even own a TV.
When it comes to the right guy, she says, “I need someone to think all my insane quirks are awesome, and I’ll think that, too. And we’ll talk about what we listened to on NPR and read the New Republic and listen to ‘Coast to Coast,’ because I like to hear about people abducted by aliens.”
Her biggest pet peeve with dating is men who don’t plan a date. She offers a good date idea — “I love riding a bike in Santa Monica along the beach. It’s so much fun. I’m up for anything. I’ll try and do anything. I won’t plan it, but I’ll do it. And I won’t kvetch.”
Her mother’s side of the family is Orthodox, though she was raised Conservative. These days she’s more spiritual than religious, but, she says, “I’m going to do the synagogue thing. It’s going to be a part of my life. I can’t wait for my kids to go to Hebrew school so they can get in trouble the way I did. I want them yelled at for talking too much.”
As we’re saying goodbye, she asks me when the profile will come out: “I need a date for a wedding in October.”
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Seth Menachem is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter. You can see more of his work on his Web site, sethmenachem.com, and meet even more single peeps at mysinglepeeps.com.