The phone rang a few years ago. I picked it up. There was a girl’s voice. “Is this Luke Ford?”
“Yes,” I said.
“I like your blog,” she said.
“Thank you,” I said.
There was silence.
“That’s it,” she said. “Goodbye.”
“Wait,” I said. “Who are you?”
“A reader of your blog. I like you and Heshy Fried.”
“What do you like about my blog?”
“It’s funny. I’d like to meet you.”
She sounded nervous.
“We could meet at Starbucks,” I said.
“How about somewhere more private?”
“You could come to my place for a cup of tea.”
“OK. Where do you live?”
I told her.
A day later, when she got her parents car, she came over.
I imagined her as beautiful. I imagined her as lustful. I feared she’d be ugly.
She wasn’t. She was 20 years old. She was haredi (traditional Orthodox). Her family was haredi. She drove an old van. Awkwardly. She was a bit rough. She obviously spent more time reading books than applying make-up.
I determined to be a perfect gentleman.
She came inside my hovel. She was nervous. I was nervous. We made awkward conversation for an hour. I stayed as far away from her as was politely possible. I didn’t want to be accused of being a predator.
I finally suggested we watch a movie. I put pillows down and we lay on the floor not touching.
After ten minutes, she said the movie was stupid. She said she had to leave. She had a lot of siblings. She had a lot of family. She had a lot of responsibilities. Whatever she sought from me, she obviously was not getting it.
A couple of days later, she came back. This time she shoved me. Then she wrestled me to the floor.
I put my arms around her. “Stop fighting,” I said. “Let’s just cuddle.”
A few minutes later, we made out.
“I’ve never done that before,” she said after. “Do you want to know how I learned to do that? From romance novels.”
I was silent. She was awkward and innocent and an enormous responsibility.
“I know you get a lot of tsures,” she said, “but I think it’s cool you’ve been with porn girls.”
She said her family wanted to ship her off to Israel to get married. She felt under great pressure from her community. Many of her friends from yeshiva were already married.
She said her family was socially awkward. She read, in part, to get away.
She didn’t want to go all the way and that was fine by me. Her future was mapped out. I was just a fling.
She wanted to save sex for her future husband. She’d need an operation to make it possible. But she wanted to get some experience with a guy and I was the one she chose. Because of my blog.
She needed a lot of assurance that she wouldn’t grow up to be an old maid. I said I’d marry her. I’m not sure how much comfort that was.
She wanted to blog anonymously and I helped her select a domain name. I warned her to include no identifying details.
I asked her to give me scoops on the Orthodox community in Los Angeles but she wouldn’t contribute anything negative. She said Rabbi Avrohom Union was the greatest teacher. She loved the Jewish Journal.
Her visits to the hovel became increasingly platonic. After a month, she moved to Israel. Her family feared she’d get into trouble here.
I heard from her a few more times. She was scared and trying to find her way. In our last phone call, she said she was getting married. And she gave me the address to her anonymous blog.
About six months later, I checked it for the final time. She appeared very happy.
I don’t remember her name. I don’t remember her family’s name. I don’t remember her blog’s name.