The setting was an infamous Young Adult First Friday potluck Shabbat at some young Jew’s upscale home in San Francisco. An East Bay-er, I was used to crossing the bridge to join the action. Shira and I had agreed to meet there. I hated entering those cold scenes and was relieved to find her in the crowd. Better yet, she was schmoozing with a short, handsome man with dark, Mediterranean features.
“This is Ilan,” Shira announced. I tried not to gawk, and we chatted for a while. My hopes soared but then crashed when the two of them made plans for coffee. Chopped liver status resumed.
A week later, Shira called.
“Yeah, you went out with him? How’d it go? Will you see him again?”
“No Robyn. All he talked about was you.” That’s unfamiliar, I thought, blushing.
“He’s just not sure about dating someone across the bridge, but I talked him into it.”
Strange. The bridge is 4.5 miles long. It was 1999, when traffic wasn’t yet ugly and the toll was a mere $3. “Well, I can see how that might be a problem, I mean, if, say, we were married.”
It seemed he came to his senses when he emailed to ask me out a few days later, specifying San Francisco as the date’s locale. Ignoring this detail, I excitedly agreed. Mediterranean features and all.
The date was good, mostly. He held my hand during the movie, and I don’t remember what movie it was. The dinner discourse was decent, and I don’t remember what we ate. The after-dinner activity on his couch was marginally indecent until it was time for him to grab the remote. See, he needed to watch Melrose Place. Mind you, Heather Locklear’s pretty hot. Between her and me, though, he had a much better chance with me – if you know what I mean. As I put the last scraps of my ego into my purse, I pulled out my car keys.
Still, I’d give him another chance. Mediterranean features and all. A few days later, I went to a program at Temple Emanuel, walking distance from his apartment. We met up for dinner, as planned. When the bill came, he pulled an “Oh, I don’t have my credit card on me,” as clearly planned (by him). I didn’t know men play that game too. I paid with a smile and increased irritation. Some after-dinner kissing broke me down, and I was elated when Ilan agreed to drive across the bridge the following Sunday for our next date.
The big day came. I got up extra early and called him at 9am. No answer. I emailed and called and called and emailed every half hour or so (i.e., every 2 minutes) for the next two hours, to no avail. Shortly after 11am, he finally called.
“What’s going on? I’ve been trying to reach you all morning!”
“Oh, I, I was out taking a walk.”
“Well, what’s the plan? Are you still coming over?”
“Um, well, uh, I don’t know.”
I’m fuming at this point. “What are you talking about? I’ve been looking forward to this, put off other plans, was trying to reach you for hours. You agreed to come over today. I crossed the bridge the last two times. I’m only 5 miles away!”
“I, I don’t think I can. Um, Dave’s coming by this evening.”
“Yeah, at what time?”
“Uh, oh, I don’t know, 7 o'clock.”
“What the hell?! Eight hours isn’t enough time to see me? What the *bleep* is wrong with you?”
“Uh, I, uh, this isn’t working.”
Thus, with parallel receiver clicking, I resumed chopped liver status.
Two years later, I saw Ilan at another Shabbat dinner in San Francisco. As I conspicuously chomped on chopped liver in his presence, he told me he was moving to Israel. (That’s what young Jews do when they’ve exhausted the local dating scene.) Since we were back on friendly terms, I didn’t have the heart to tell him that Israel is more than 5 miles away. I’m guessing he learned that during the 23-hour flight. I’m also guessing that he flew out of the San Francisco airport to avoid crossing the Bay Bridge.