Jdate 298 88.
(photo credit: courtesy)
I am certain I'm not the first shiksa to join JDate and pretend to be Jewish, but I believe my story is unique.
It started more than two years ago, when the friendship I had developed with a Jewish colleague (a.k.a. Jewish Guy) began to blossom... mostly over e-mail, as we lived in different cities.
E-mails between us proliferated, becoming flirtatious. He even wrote a poem for me. He began calling and we talked freely, conversations filled with laughter, for hours each week. Occasionally, he visited my city, Toronto, and we would see each other. The sparks were flying, but never acknowledged.
My best friend (a.k.a. Best Friend) warned me that my brain cells were leaking - a code we have. It means, "You're falling stupidly in love." Soon after, Jewish Guy and I were part of a media trip to Israel, where the sparks finally went boom.
In Jerusalem, under the shadow of Montefiore's windmill, he held my hand for the first time, ostensibly to help me up a flight of stairs. He pronounced the experience "delicious." In the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, as we leaned against a column and our hands touched, he quoted Shakespeare: "O, then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do." Oh swoon. He was Romeo. Or maybe he was Paul Newman in Exodus, and I was Eva Marie Saint. To me, he was as handsome as Ari Ben Canaan.
In Haifa, in a grubby hotel room, we - finally - spoke our hearts, and made love for the first time. In a kibbutz close to the Lebanese border, he told me he thought he should be married, and asked if I would ever convert. It was hypothetical, I knew, but I was excited. "Yes," I answered. Oy vey, yes! He asked my age. I told him (five years older than him).
In a Druse village on the Golan Heights, he promised he would always be my friend, no matter the future, making me promise the same. I had fallen hopelessly, fecklessly in love. My brain had cracked wide open - every last cell leaking into the Dead Sea, where he and I floated and talked in the 43 heat.
After the trip, the relationship continued. Business brought him to Toronto, and we kept up frequent contact. But he began to show the familiar signs of "male pushing female away" - ultimately being more direct. "I do not want to pursue a relationship in Toronto," he announced.
We had an awful fight. We said awful things.
I cried every day for weeks, until he called. He sounded meek, not the blustering, brainy jokester I knew. "I miss you," he said. "Me too." We agreed to be friends. And with some prescience, I made him swear he would be the one to tell me when and if he got married.
Being "just friends" was rough. He scrutinized me for flaws, determined to find them. (I sometimes made this very easy for him.) "You and I are not viable," he wrote tersely. Soon, we were no longer talking.
Selfishly, I could only think of how achingly I missed him. He had once told me that he used JDate to meet women. I began checking the site to see if any profile rang a bell. It wasn't long before I recognized him. Oh, he had fudged some facts, but I would know him anywhere, my Jewish Guy.
I had to talk to him. But I was afraid, as "not viable" me. So I created a JDate profile. I was unprepared for the questions about one's practice of Judaism, so I enlisted the help of my friend Amanda (a.k.a. The Real Amanda), a Jewish woman I had been close friends with since university. We giggled as we drank wine and made my profile - starting with my name.
Amannda. We added an extra "n" because I wanted her to have a funny name she had to spell for everyone, since I have a funny name I have to spell for everyone. "How often do I go to temple?"
I asked the Real Amanda. "On some Shabbats," she said. "But Jewish Guy only goes on the High Holy Days," I pointed out. "Yes, but you want to be slightly more noble than he is," she said. "Do I keep kosher?" I asked. "You try," she said. And so on.
I (or rather Amannda) approached Jewish Guy first. He responded quickly. Had I had any doubt about his real identity, it was gone. My heart raced, as the cozy banter began... again.
It was like old times. I could tell him everything, and he would respond with warmth and interest, sharing similar experiences. I was happier than I had been in months. Best Friend thought I should "mess with him." No, I said. I just want our friendship back. "You," she sighed, "are a sap!"
I felt guilty for deceiving him. Best Friend pointed out that he was probably meeting other women on JDate, not a thought I relished. (For my part, I ignored the dozens of other eligible Jews who contacted Amannda.) As Amannda, I made no attempt to dumb myself down, or change my writing style. Yet he didn't recognize me. George Orwell said that seeing what is under your own nose needs a constant struggle.
At one point I realized that the first anniversary of our having been intimate had passed, and had been marked - to the day - by Hizbullah firing the first rocket of the summer of 2006 on Haifa, the city where it happened. Fitting? I hoped not.
Eventually, Jewish Guy suggested he and Amannda exchange photos. I panicked, and considered having Amannda move to Ghana to help orphans. But the Real Amanda insisted I send him a picture of her cousin, who looked rather like Amannda. Then, one late summer morning, I received a message from Jewish Guy, telling Amannda he would be in Toronto. He invited her to dinner and a movie. I had twisted myself into an absurd pretzel - I was jealous of myself.
It was the stuff of chick flicks. Again, I considered having Amannda disappear. I talked it over with Best Friend. "If this were a chick flick," I said, "I could say yes, and go, and he would have an epiphany and realize he loved me." We laughed so hard we cried as we cast our chick flick, starring romantic leads Reese Witherspoon as me (Best Friend was being kind), and Liev Schreiber as Jewish Guy.
But life is not a chick flick. Something had to give. So I e-mailed him as Amannda, telling him I was not available that week. Then I bit the bullet. I e-mailed him as me, simply saying hello. To my delight, he replied quickly. "Nice to hear from you," he wrote. I asked, boldly, if we could see each other when he was next in Toronto, hoping I would get the same invitation as Amannda. He suggested breakfast.
I went, with high hopes. But as life is not a chick flick, breakfast was only polite, tentative. He kept the focus on superficial matters, and his chubby cheeks turned beet red when I hugged him good-bye. He was far more at ease with Amannda. But without so much as a fare thee well, Amannda disappeared. I would never treat a man like that.
But still, I thank her. She gave me borrowed time with Jewish Guy, and the vertebrae to contact him.
After that, Jewish Guy and I shared another awkward breakfast, and a few e-mails. Then one recent morning, a mutual friend told me that she heard he was getting married. Hadn't he promised to tell me that? Crushed, I told myself: "We'll always have Haifa." I phoned him. He did not say whether he had met his fiancee on JDate. All he said was, "She fits my life."
Maybe Amannda could have fit his life. I guess I didn't. And that's fine. I never want someone to choose me because I "fit." I want him to choose me because he loves me, and will allow me to love him, even when neither of us fits.