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Jewish Journal

The Rule of Three

by Amy Klein

August 16, 2007 | 8:00 pm

The weird thing about mixed seating in synagogue is that sometimes couples are all over each other. Inappropriate during prayer time for sure, but somewhat more distracting when one half of that couple happens to be a guy you once dated.

A guy you dated until he yelled at you for seven excruciating minutes on your fourth date and then you said you had to go, I mean really go, and did just that.

A guy you dated now sitting in the row in front of you, caressing -- for your and the entire synagogue's benefit -- the brown curly hair of a short, dark woman who resembles you as if you were all interchangeable.

I suppose the good thing about mixed seating is that when they encourage you to join arms across the rows for the final singing of "Peace on All of Us and All of Israel," you can link up with a different tall, dark stranger wearing a shell necklace who asks you to explain the words to him. So what if during the singing and the Kiddush you find out he's actually a Lebanese Christian who likes Jewish women? At least he flirts with you on your way out of the sanctuary in front of that ex, who is now clutching his new girlfriend like a security blanket.

Everyone needs security blankets when faced with hundreds, if not 1,000, mostly single people mingling -- OK, scoping -- after prayer. On this night I've got four or five girlfriends here, and we stand together by a high table eating falafel, grape leaves and humus, each of us flitting off for a bit, then returning to the hive to touch base, to recharge.

There in the distance I spot this blue-eyed goatee guy I went out with once or twice a year or two or three ago -- the details are vague, but he doesn't remember me either.

"Don't I owe you a disc?" he says, as if we had seen each other just last week. Perhaps he has mistaken me for a colleague, I think, but before I can say so, he adds, "Neil Diamond or something?"

And it's true, he did promise to copy the CD for me, but given that we never spoke again, surely due to some really, really good reason (he lost my number/took a vow of asceticism/was kidnapped by aliens) I'd forgotten about the disc and him and everything but a pleasant feeling, like the feeling one gets seeing someone from grade school that you once really admired but never got a chance to know.

"Nothing bad happened with us, right?" I ask him.

"Don't tell anyone else here that," he says, smiling a sheepish grin and ducking behind me like he's avoiding half the room (the women he never called back?). And then he says he's off to get a drink but he'll be back, which is code for "you won't see me again."

No matter, this cute redhead Jeremy comes over, and I ask him why I wasn't invited to his party. He tells me his party has been canceled, but I want to know whether I would have been invited or if we are still not allowed to be friends because I went out with his friend Dan a few years ago.

"He really liked you, you know," Jeremy tells me, which is a shame, because I'd like to go out with Jeremy (isn't there a statute of limitations on these things?) who gives me his card. (I don't think he'll go out with me -- he just wants me to come to his gig.) I palm it, along with the one from the Lebanese Christian -- who, aside from being of a different religion, and from a problematic country of origin -- lives in New Jersey. Talk about unavailable.

But in social situations I have this Rule of Three: I have to meet three new people before I can leave. They don't have to be guys, and they don't have to be guys I'd go out with (see: Lebanese Christian), although it would help, but I make myself do this so the event won't be a waste of time (and an outfit).

OMG! There's Brian! I went out with him the night before. This, ladies and gentleman is unprecedented, because I might be fulfilling my Other Rule of Three: If you see three people you've dated in one place, it's time to leave. It means you've exhausted this particular supply.

But does Brian qualify as someone I've dated, in the past tense? Maybe I'm still dating him. Yes, he was a total bore at pool, not asking me one question or actually making any conversation except to talk about how he could have gotten a better shot (who cares? It's only pool!), but he gave me a very nice kiss goodnight that made him seem infinitely more compelling.

"Hey Brian!" I say to him as he walks by.

"Oh, hey, I didn't know you'd be here," he replies. Which is weird because I distinctly told him I was going to be here.

"Oh, well, gotta go," he said pointing to his friend walking ahead of him, in what might be the most direct blow-off of my life -- less than 24 hours after kissing a guy, he walks away in order to scope out other women! Now I know I've fulfilled the Other Rule of Three.

Another guy, a skinny surfer dude I'd been talking to, comes up to me to give me his card -- "No wait, I'll take your number," he says, and does.

My girlfriends ask if I want to leave and go have dinner. Since I've hit both my rules of three tonight, in shame and in pride, I am certainly ready to go.

But not before I pick up a business card from the floor -- I thought I'd dropped it, but turns out it wasn't mine. Here's what it said:

You are Hot and So am I.

What should we do about it?

I definitely wanted to give this guy a call.

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