The First Night

"Would you marry a girl who only had a Conservative conversion [to Judaism]?" my friend asked over lunch. "Or if she was only half-Jewish. Only her dad was Jewish."

"I wouldn’t rule it out," I said.

"When you find a great girl, you don’t look for ways to disqualify her.

"I was dating this girl who was raised Orthodox and absolutely hated Orthodox Judaism and Orthodox Jews but she was completely respectful of and accommodating towards my observance. It wasn’t that she didn’t get in my way, she knew what I needed and she didn’t give me any trouble. She even seemed to enjoy it.

"She was sleeping one morning and having a nightmare that I was gay, and she woke up to my yelling at her, tied up in my tefillin, ‘shel lo asani goy… shel lo asani isha.’ (Thank you God for not creating me a Gentile. Thank you God for not creating me a woman.)"

I was feeling happy and had so much wisdom to dispense.

"I don’t get it," he said. "You’re Orthodox, right?"

"Yeah."

"But you date non-Orthodox women. You date non-Jewish women. Why waste your time chasing sex? Shouldn’t you be looking to get married."

"I am looking to get married. I am looking for a great girl. I am not going to disqualify one because she says she’ll never do without turning on lights on Shabbat. It’s been a decade since I chased sex. Now I look for a great girl, Jewish or goyish, and I try to connect with her and see if we can build a future together. I would not marry someone unless I could build a Jewish home with her. We’d eventually have to get on the same wavelength about Judaism."

I went on and on with my explanations until we’d come to his place and it was time for me to trudge on alone and wait for my shiksa guest.

Her phone broke so she had to knock on a neighbor’s door to use the internet to find my number to call my phone so I could hear the ring and look at the caller ID and come out to the street to get her.

We’d talked for years but never met in person. I figured the thing to do was to walk her around Pico-Robertson. What more exciting way could there be to spend a Saturday night?

Back at the hovel, I gave her socks and a smile. I poured her a glass of filtered water and put on a Holocaust movie. I lit a candle and whispered my intention.

We lay down on the floor and got under my comforter.

I smelled something strange burning. My head was next to hers and I didn’t want to move. She smelled good. This strange fire did not. Oy, but I forced myself to join — temporarily — the reality-based community and I finally saw that my wooden food shelf was alight.

I gracefully paused the movie, doused the fire, apologized for my incompetence, moved the candle to a safer place, and resumed losing my tawdry identity in the great sweep of Jewish suffering.

After five straight minutes of not thinking about myself, it was time for my medication. I popped a clonidine and a melatonin. I wanted to be black tonight.

"What are you taking?" she asked.

"Something for ADD," I said, "and melatonin for sleep."

"Can I have some? How big are they?"

"Three milligrams."

"Give me three. I need them to get over my Ambien addiction."

I poured them into her hand and brought her a glass of water.

U b mine tonight bitch!

11 pm. When I exclaimed about a plot point, she said, "What’s that? I closed my eyes for a minute."

"Perhaps we should go to bed," I said. "You can crash here. Let’s rearrange things."

I pulled the pillows from under her head and put them at the top of my bed of blankets. Then I brought her and the comforter over.

She’s completely dressed. We’re just friends. We’re just a couple of writers who discuss the finer points of our craft. There’s nothing to see here, rabbis, so just run along now.

"I don’t think I can sleep with someone in the same bed," she said after I clambered in beside her, sweaty and eager and old.

She turned away from me towards my cupboard.

I faced the refrigerator, a foot away from the toilet where my chances swam.

"One of us can go on the floor by the computer," I said, "if we’re not asleep in a few minutes."

Twenty minutes later, we’re not asleep. I felt anxious and took the hard floor at her feet.

I dragged down my two pillows and spread out a sheet on the floor and then wrapped myself up in the old comforter.

I tossed and turned. My shoulders felt compressed by the hard floor and my back shortened and tightened. At 2 a.m., I popped in a CD of the Richard Yates’s novel Revolutionary Road and within an hour I was asleep.

I wake with the birds, before 6 a.m. and thought of God and putting on tefillin and taking a cold shower and how nice it would be to crawl back into my bed and take my fellow writer in my arms and hear her thoughts on T.S. Eliot’s objective correlative.

But I force myself to wait for her to move in such a definitive manner that there is no question she’s awake.

After she moved definitively three times and sighed loudly twice, I got up and slid into bed and wrapped my arms around her.

We lay side by side facing my cupboard.

She didn’t protest at my advance nor did she respond.

Better than her screaming bloody rape and calling the police.

When the shiksa said no, she meant no.

After half an hour, my left arm under her head went numb. I pulled it back into its socket and rolled over to the frig. It was largely white except for the large rust spot.

Later she washed her face and rubbed on vitamin C oil and anti-aging cream and gave me some and showed me how to apply it.

Then she gave me back the socks she’d borrowed and I promised her to never wash them.

"Do you feel like some brekky?" she asked.

On our walk to Pico Blvd, she talked about this guy Sean who platonically slept in the same bed as her at a party. And the next morning, he told everyone, "I slept her good."

"He tried to spoon me," she said to me, "but I wouldn’t let him."

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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