Woven into the right side of Renata’s curly hair are white strands stripped of color. She has vitiligo, but it didn’t reveal itself until she was under some stress about four years ago. I love how it looks.
Barbara, 36, grew up in Boca Raton — interestingly, in one of the only areas of Boca with very few Jews. “We were one of 10 Jewish kids in my elementary school. We were on the countryside of Boca — the west-west-westside.
Becca is a close friend. My daughter, Sydney, saw me hug her hello one day and said, “Becca’s your best friend.” I felt a little pushed into it, but maybe she’s right. We’re BFFs — best friends forever. And Sydney knew before we did.
Ruth is an attractive, petite woman who’s spent her life working in publishing. She’s from the East Coast and went to college in Syracuse, graduating with a major in advertising and a minor in painting. She worked in New York as an art director for Modern Bride magazine, but moved out to Los Angeles for her then-husband, who was from here.
Tami’s running late to meet me at Starbucks, so I call her to ask what kind of coffee she’d like. “House coffee. Hot.” That’s it. I order my usual froofy drink — any kind of sweetened Frappuccino, usually involving chocolate, caramel or a combination of both.
I met Lou’s dog before I met Lou. I was eating in the park with my family when his dog ran over excitedly, stepped into my daughter’s lunch and then took off again when he saw his owner running toward him.
Most Jewish parents don’t name their child Kristina, but Ukraine — when it was still the former Soviet Union — was very secular. “So my parents just gave me what was the cool, European name of the moment, not wanting to give me some very traditional and typical Russian name like Tanya or Svetlana.”
How do you grow up one of 12 kids in a house full of people, with a congregational rabbi father who hosts strangers for weekly Shabbat meals at home, and still feel ill-equipped talking to women?
One of Ilysa’s favorite jobs was working at a coffee shop while she was in college. So it was fortuitous that I had her meet me at one to talk. Sometimes when I meet with people, it takes a bit of time for me to get a handle on their personality. Not with Ilysa. She’s nice. She’s personable. She’s never had a job she didn’t like. And she currently has two of them. She’s the youth director at Temple Ahavat Shalom, a Reform synagogue in Northridge. And she works with special-needs kids in a middle school in Van Nuys.
When Jered, 35, first tells me, “I came from a very indulged upbringing, and it kind of put me at a disadvantage,” I start to laugh, because it sounds like something Mitt Romney would say after getting caught for being obscenely rich during the years when his wife claimed they ate pasta and tuna fish in a basement apartment.
I’ve been close with Ari’s sister for years, and the oddest thing about her is that she always has a smile on her face. Married to a self-confessed pain in the ass, four kids at 30, coupled with all the other life crap that bogs everyone down … she still has that smile on her face. And smiles are catching. Like mono, we have no idea how it’s passed from person to person. Just one of those mysteries.
It’s no surprise that a woman who produces mainly chick flicks and romantic dramas would say to me regarding love, “I want Harry and Sally. I’ve been corrupted by a lot of movies.” She amends her statement: “I aspire to that idea but know that someone who can hang through the tough and the real is what I want.”
Sari and I were scheduled to meet on Yom Kippur — that is, until I realized what day it was and sent her an e-mail to reschedule. She hadn’t realized, either.
A friend of mine told Reuven to contact me. I was told he was a 31-year-old Orthodox Jew who runs Elite Cuisine, a kosher restaurant, with his family. To be frank, I expected someone a little dorky. But he’s not. Reuven’s more reminiscent of Jax from “Sons of Anarchy.” He’s blond, has a bit of a scruffy beard, and has the confidence of a guy who knows he can beat you in a fight. His daily ride is a 1951 Chevy, but there’s no AC so he pulls up in an old convertible — the kind that takes up half the block.
I mentioned to a friend that I interviewed a nice guy today and said, “You might know him. He’s in casting.” When I told her his name, she said, “You’re joking. He dated my mom. I love him.” It turns out that after breaking up, they stayed friends. I can’t think of a better endorsement for the guy.
When I was 5 I knew I wanted to try Froot Loops, but my mom wouldn’t let me. That was the extent of my goals. Bekah wanted to be a teacher. And she became one.
I like Eric right away for the most shallow of reasons — he’s got a New York accent and he dresses like my father did: jeans, tucked-in polo shirt, tassel loafers with colored socks. East Coast preppy. My father died 20 years ago, but sometimes little things can trigger my emotional memory and I find myself missing him out of nowhere. This was one of those times.
As soon as Robert sits down, his gaze continually shifts from the window to me. I make up reasons in my head: He's on the run from the cops. He owes money to a bookie, and they’re coming after him. His partner is outside casing the joint. "I'm looking for parking enforcement." Illegally parked. I’ll buy it for now.
Let this be a lesson to all of you: Michele showed up at our interview with two boxes of noodle kugel — one savory, one sweet. Can I be bought off? Apparently.
Brandon’s an only child. He tells me he’s the kind of kid who kept to himself. “I didn’t break out of my shell until late in high school. I’m still kind of introverted, but an outgoing introvert, if that makes sense.”
I met Laurie through another single peep, Katie. They were eating breakfast at one of my favorite breakfast spots, Hugo’s in West Hollywood. Try the El Desayuno Burrito De La Casa. It’s less complicated than it sounds on paper. So is Laurie. She lives in Brentwood. She has two dogs — Maltese mixes. Her ideal is to meet a man and “live on the Westside forever.”
I had a lot of difficulty with this interview. It’s actually the hardest one I’ve ever done, simply because Rob was so difficult to figure out. He’s a grown man drinking soda from a Marvel Avengers reusable cup. He looks lost. A little on the fringes.
Lynn has been a widow since 1996 and is doing her best to fall in love again. But she’s finding the world of online dating difficult to navigate. On one date, she told me, “I found out the guy was a bookie.” He was in a bad mood because he had just lost $8,000.
Aviv, 34, shows up to our interview dressed to the nines. He’s wearing khakis, a blue chambray shirt and a plaid blazer. He’s wearing Gant — a label I like a lot. And I appreciate how fastidious he is about clothing.
Rhoda’s a widow in her 70s. “I was married to a physician — a brilliant ophthalmologist. He passed away two and a half years ago.” Although she still mourns her loss, she’s ready to find companionship. She signed up for Match.com — “My lead [in my profile] is: I really do believe laughter is the best form of healing.”
Randy moved 16 times before he got to high school. He never knew his father—his hippie mom didn’t know, either, and they didn’t care. “She was part of this spiritual group so we all lived communally. We lived in a house with 12 people in San Francisco. It wasn’t until middle school that I really had a father figure and I became very close with him. [Andy] adopted me when they got married. Even though they’re divorced now I’m still very close with him.”
Karen got divorced a year and a half ago. “I think at first it was hard to come to terms with — ‘I’m divorced.’ It had a kind of negative connotation, but now I look at it like I’m an experienced person. I know exactly what I want. I know exactly what I don’t want. And I’m kind of enjoying it — having my own time. But I have my moments where I wish I did have somebody to share that time with.”
Michelle wants to go on 365 dates in a year. She calls her project Michelle365. “I’m really using the term dates loosely as an excuse to get to meet all different types of people.”
Alex wrote to me asking why I didn’t have any gay single peeps on my site. I told him I do — “you should take another look” — and then offered to interview him sight unseen. Because I’m awesome like that. He took me up on it. Because he’s trusting like that.
Lawrence is a South African Jew who has been in Southern California since he was 10. I met him through his sister, Francine, who briefly dated my eldest brother after they met abroad on a high-school trip. I hadn’t seen Francine in years, so she tagged along for the interview.
If I wrote Natania’s column gender-neutral, there would be very few tip-offs that I was writing about a woman. To be fair, if someone wrote about me the same way, there’d probably be very few tip-offs that I’m a man.
Alexa initially wrote to me because she was interested in one of my single peeps. She attached a picture of herself — a headshot, where she looked like she was 14 years old. My friend never responded, probably fearful of getting arrested on a date with a ninth-grader.
The first time I saw EG I was just starting to train at the Howard Fine Acting Studio. She looked familiar, but I didn’t put it together immediately. Then it clicked — Dottie! From “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure”! After we became friends and had worked together on various scenes for class, it was always hard for me to resist saying, “I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel.” It still is.
Rachelle is originally from New York. “I went to San Francisco in my 20s, so I feel as if I grew up [there].” Her husband at the time wanted to get out of New York, “and I’m actually glad he wanted to move. I love San Francisco.”
Shanee was born and raised in Beverly Hills by Israeli parents. After college, she moved to New York for four years, where she worked in marketing.
Ruthie, who is 81 now, was raised in Chicago. An abused child, she was sent away to live on a farm called Glen Eyrie in Delavan, Wis. “You know what it was like in the ’30s if you had a mean mother — no one talked about it. I know how to milk cows, kill chickens.”
Dina grew up in Michigan, one of only a few Jews in her area. Her parents, who themselves had met at a Camp Ramah, sent her to Camp Ramah in Canada so she could meet other Jews. “I really loved it,” she told me. She spent 10 summers there as a camper and counselor — even after her family moved to California when her father, a professor, got a teaching position here.
Sonia doesn’t look or sound like your typical Jewish girl next door. Sure, she’s loud — but her accent is more Charo than Bette Midler. Her clothing is, too.
Candace was raised in the Valley, a typical middle-class Jewish upbringing, where her family raised her with the hope that she’d do better financially than their generation. But she was never typical.
If I had to pick out the adventurous girl in a crowd, Jill would be one of the last I’d point to. Whether that has to do with my horrible perception or her initial caginess, I don’t know. But she surprised me at almost every turn as she crawled out of her proverbial cage. She loves watching sports. Her favorites are basketball, football … and boxing. Seriously?
Erin’s a selfish girl. She’s spent 12 years working as a registered nurse, specializing in adult critical care and pediatric post-surgical care. Her last seven vacations have been to Asia and South America, though instead of getting her hair braided and lying on a beach, she spent all day in surgery volunteering with a program called ReSurge International that does reconstructive surgery on the world’s poor. I gave a dollar to a homeless guy a few days ago, and I’m still waiting for my trophy. And now this selfish girl has me feeling “less than.” How dare she.
Gary’s brother, Jason, is a recent single peep. And, like Jason, Gary’s a nice, easygoing guy.
I’ve become fascinated with meeting single peeps who are only children. Sarica is one of them. Whatever negatives there are growing up without siblings, the positives are immediately apparent. Sarica, like others I’ve met, is overachieving, confident and a natural leader. She also happens to be really smart.
Aimee was born and raised in Memphis, Tenn., but went to college in upstate New York to get as far away from the South as possible.
Lisa describes herself as looking like Shirley Temple, “But I’m spicy — not vanilla.” She’s originally from New York, then moved to San Francisco for 12 years.
Jason lives in the same building as I do and shares an apartment with two friends from high school. During our interview him for this profile, one of the roommates, Rebecca, wanders around the house, eavesdropping.
I met Eva this year as part of EILI, an entertainment leadership group through The Jewish Federation.
Ian grew up with two much older sisters, but “I was kind of like an only child … good life, good childhood, maids … I even had a wet nurse.”
Esther walks into Starbucks to sit down with me, recognizes a young guy at the table next to us and gives him a hug. “He’s my acting coach.” She sits down, continuing, “I noticed people come off kvetchy [in the column]. I want to come off on a higher level. On a sophisticated level.” Her accent is the Jewish Bronx of the 1940s.
As soon as Michele sits down with me, she says, “I’m crap at talking about myself.” Hear it with a British accent, and it’s 10 times cuter. I’ve known Michele for years — she’s a friend of a friend — and I realize I don’t know a whole lot about her. She really is crap at talking about herself. She’s a great listener. And unlike the rest of us who moved to Los Angeles because we’re desperate for attention due to getting lost in big, loud families and having dead fathers (just me?), Michele is quietly comfortable with who she is.
I’ve written 40 profiles of singles for mysinglepeeps.com — and almost as many have been for the My Single Peeps column in The Jewish Journal.
David grew up in Miami — my mother was his elementary school teacher. Apparently he was always a nice kid.
A close friend e-mailed me that he thought Rachel would be good for My Single Peeps. “I think you guys will hit it off well, as you have a lot in common — a dead dad, childhood ADD, you both write and act, and you’re ‘good people.’ ”
Michael was born in Michigan. He went to Columbia University, where he studied political science and wrote his thesis on nuclear deterrence theory.
When you think of a born-and-bred Brooklyn girl, blond-haired Stacey probably isn’t what comes to mind.
Samantha wants to take up yoga to get leaner. She says, “I think I’m built to be Hulk’s sister. Just paint me green.” She looks sturdy.
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.
It might be my own prejudice, but there’s this really odd side to Ryan — the one that believes God sent him a message to become more religious.
Anikke (rhymes with paprika) was raised by artist parents in Seattle. Her father’s a musician. Her mother’s a sculptor. The closest school to her house was an Orthodox Jewish day school, so they sent her there. In a short time, the artists became Orthodox Jews, even though Anikke felt like the non-Jew in the school.