Flip Side: Enemies, a love story

Love is the key, they agree. The rest, they pledge, will follow.

By RUTHIE BLUM LEIBOWITZ
February 7, 2008 14:11
4 minute read.
Flip Side: Enemies, a love story

heart 88. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Their decision to wed on Valentine's Day is as much an announcement about their attitude to the Israeli rabbinate as it is a tribute to romance. Which is why they have settled on Cyprus for the ceremony. Not only is it close enough to home to make it a viable venue, but it so meets their stated nuptial criteria as to make it a desirable one. No rabbi; no hupa; no ketuba. Church bells clanging in the distance - not a banquet-hall band blasting in the background, while a stampede of starving relatives descend upon a buffet. A kosher one, of course, to enable those for whom this is a must to be able to partake of the $100-per-plate meal provided for them in exchange for a commensurate gift. But in our protagonists' haste to iron out the ideological and logistical details of the event, there are certain more general matters they have been neglecting to discuss. Such as their genuine feelings about shunning Jewish tradition in favor of agnosticism. And about fleeing friends and family to tie the knot in a foreign country, in the presence of strangers. Indeed, everything is happening so fast that getting to know one another has been pushed aside for more pressing issues. Such as getting engaged, for example. Marijuana-enhanced marriage proposals on the three-week anniversary of a first encounter will do that. Particularly to people like our protagonists, whose chief claim to compatibility is a matching pair of recently broken hearts. And whose method of treatment for the cardiological condition they have in common is identical: falling in love as soon - and as hard - as possible. The psychological and physiological reasons behind their opting for this remedy are as obvious as they are unspoken. From the prospective groom's point of view, it represents the possible quenching of his thirst for revenge against the woman who dumped him and left a gaping hole in his chest. For the soon-to-be-bride, it means the opportunity not only to beat her own biological clock to the punch, but that of the bitch who stole her boyfriend as well. It is in this frame of mind and body that he and she meet at a pub in Tel Aviv, both on the prowl - and on the rebound. It is in this state of fury and inebriation that their casual flirtation - par for the course in such a setting - turns into the kind of spontaneous combustion that spurs their bar-stool neighbors to urge them to "get a room." From that moment on, the two sad souls blend into one, mistaking their manic attraction for "love at first sight" (or at least perpetually professing as much), without ever bothering to get acquainted. The heart, they say aloud, is all that counts. In silence, they think of additional considerations. Such as their previous partners, about whom they still dream while in each other's arms. How sweet it is, they declare, not to need words for communication. Sweeter still it will be, they think, to run into their former lovers with their current ones in tow. Satisfied that they are on the path to full recovery - and some form of "happily ever after" - each takes cues from the other on the person he or she is expected to be. It is thus that he expresses a disingenuous distaste for Jewish marital ritual, and she an equally false one for the "pomp, circumstance and unnecessary expense" involved in big weddings. Correcting the other's misconceptions is completely out of the question. After all, doing so would require reverting to their old selves - the ones still stinging from rejection. Keeping quiet seems to be a small price to pay - a small investment with large returns. Like the diamond ring he presents her that night, a mere 21 days after laying eyes on her for the first time. The ring he never got the chance to give to her predecessor. LEST ONE imagine that our protagonists - both otherwise relatively sensible people - are to be rescued from their mutual folly at the last minute, think again. The scenario they set in motion is now heading for the horizon. Years from now, perhaps, he will look back with the regret characteristic of retrospect. And she will console herself by appreciating that the children she has would not have been born without this specific man, at this particular point in time. But this is all speculation about the future. Right now, the pull of the little box is too strong for her to resist. And his persuasion, like the joint they smoke in the car on the way to the restaurant, too intoxicating for sober reasoning about the virtue of patience. Love is the key, they agree. The rest, they pledge, will follow. What immediately follows - aside from the Valentine's Day Special weekend wedding package (that includes flights, marriage license, honeymoon suite and a complimentary bottle of champagne) - is emotional pandemonium on the part of wounded parents and worried peers. Why in the world, everyone begins asking the defiant couple, can they not wait a little while before taking such a monumental leap? And why abscond abroad to do it? Our protagonists join forces to counter their critics. Separately, however, each is secretly hoping to hear from a third party, begging for forgiveness and proclaiming a change of heart. But such is the stuff of movies and books. In the real world, our protagonists will return from their Cyprus caper and allow their mothers to throw them a proper reception - photographer and all. In the real world, the two people truly celebrating the occasion will be those most relieved to have the bride and groom finally off their guilty consciences. ruthie@jpost.com


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