What is a friend? When I was a kid, the requirements were none too stringent. Is he in my class? Can I ride my bicycle to his house? Do his parents have any insane "not too much candy before dinner" rules?
As I got older, other factors became more important. Do we root for the same team? Are we willing to lie to our parents for each other? Does he have a bong?
Now that I'm one half of a couple (actually, 49 percent when it comes to decision making, 51 percent when it comes to heavy lifting) friendship is trickier. Are our children the same age? Do our families have comparable incomes? Do they have a bong?
In the framework of public obligation and commandment, Jewish men are the central characters of wedding ceremonies, with women taking a more passive role.
First date. He agrees to see a movie about ballet instead of "Gladiator." You're heartened by this early sacrifice.
After the movie, he drags you along to a friend's birthday dinner at some Italian sounding restaurant on Sunset. On the way he gets aggravated about the traffic. This, you count against him.You try to be charming around his friends, as you realize you're on display and want to be seen as someone with good social skills. He reaches way across the table for bread. This, you remember your aunt used to call "boarding house reach." You also count this against him.
He sees to it immediately that you get a shot of ouzo, a Greek liquor he says will be good for your cold. It is. This erases the traffic temper and the reaching, which persists.
When Diane Arieff turned in her cover story on the best-selling "Kosher Sex," I smiled with unquestioned approval. After all, opening doors and windows for Jews of all persuasions -- observant as well as secular -- seemed healthy and desirable.
These are more stories of beshert, of relationships that are "meant to be," with a little help from The Jewish Journal. Over the past year, at least five couples have called us to announce their personal-ad-inspired nuptials. And, no, they weren't ashamed to admit how they met. Gone is the stigma that ads are for people who are really desperate, they insist.