I’m a woman who will do odd things for the thrill of it.
This isn’t a brag, really. I don’t do exciting things. Friends who watched me bungee jump will tell you that it was like watching a cat choose between a burning building and a rushing river. I am not a brave person. I will never snow board. I will never touch a spider.
I am a curious person.
This means I’ve had, like, infinity weird jobs. I’ve sold plasma, posed as a bank auditor to count tens of thousands of dollars, made travel videos with a puppet named Zippy, tutored a radiologist in Alsace, worked under the table at an Indian restaurant where a child was stabbed, painted trash buckets, written and performed fairy tales for a radio show in Korea, voice acted for a (soft) erotic video game, and filmed a science fiction movie in the mountains of Colorado. I’ve blogged about my dating life. Hi.
I get this little tingle in my chest every time a weird offer comes my way. “Would you be interested in traveling with us to Ithaca to do tech for our show?” Ooooh… I have no idea how to do that, and I know it’s not gonna pay anything. SURE!
This life approach has worked out for me pretty well. The Ithaca gig was a blast, and it led to me meeting the woman who would hire me to write for this blog. I sometimes wish I had a more reliable career, particularly the part that would allow me a more steady paycheck, but I’m happy to have done what I’ve done and seen what I’ve seen.
Okay, Jessica. Enough yakkety-yak. Tell us about this date.
Every now and then I do a little spring cleaning of my inbox. You know, the people you’ve meshed with who you never messaged or heard anything from. Most of these guys get deleted, but a few I message.
Caleb was very cute. He was also pretty funny: in his job description he listed simply “fighting the grim reaper” and under his self-description he wrote “if you make me laugh I’ll love you forever.” This is obviously a very attractive combination of characteristics. I plucked something out of his profile to reference and jotted off a message to him.
A day later, I had a response. “Hi! You seem great, but I’m only dating culturally Jewish women. I’m sorry! It’s the guilt!”
A normal, self-preserving woman would have backed off. What’s the point? However, something about his jokey response made me feel like Caleb was more interested than perhaps he was willing to express. Furthermore, it activated that tingly “ooh, what a weird challenge” part of my brain. A man who was attracted enough to match with me, but selective enough that he didn’t want to follow through because of my religious background?
About two weeks later, and Caleb and I were meeting at Union Square for our date.
Caleb looked somewhat different from his profile picture, but was still quite handsome. In cheeky reference to the whole culturally Jewish thing, he took me to Taïm, an Israeli falafal joint in the West Village.
In spite of our irregular beginning, conversation with Caleb was fun. While his username had made me think he was a photographer, he revealed that he is a doctor (“I fight the grim reaper!” “You’re… a mortician?!” “No, I’m a doctor.”), a fact he liked to keep private because of the unwanted attention revealing his job got him. “I feel like I know how a pretty woman feels,” he said of the messages he got when he was open about his source of income.
My response to learning Caleb’s profession was asking him questions like what would happen if a woman’s umbilical cord wasn’t cut, or if he had any crazy stories from working at Bellevue Hospital. Answers: a) it might get infected? b) yes.
My date and I got falafel platters and looked over the Skymall Magazine I had brought for him, since one of our points of online connection was our mutual grief over the demise of the magazine’s print publication. The conversation felt fun and flirtatious, except for some awkwardness when I decided to ask him what scared him (death) and what he was excited about for the future (not sure.) I was thinking, hey, we can’t really date cuz of the whole Jewish thing, might as well skip the “what do you like to do on weekends” spiel.
Dinner led to drinks at a bar my improv friends frequent, and I got to feel like a popular chick as buddies of mine passed by. We talked about dogs and dating and Savage Love and podcasts and his smile was really very cute. 10:00 rolled around and I would have excused myself to go watch a show at my improv theater, but he decided he wanted to come with so there we went.
I was pretty busy after the show – my improv team was going up next – so I didn’t really get to say goodbye to Caleb. He was going to stick around, but he texted that he was too tired to stay. “That was so much fun! Thanks for the drinks!” he texted.
A couple of days later, Caleb hadn’t messaged me. Being the brave-not-brave person I am, I texted him. He’s not interested in a second date.
Here’s what I’d say to Caleb if all emotions were on the table and humans were honest:
You’re fun. I’d have liked to hang out again. I kinda get why you only want to date cultural Jews: family pressure and expectations can be a tough thing to overcome. I don’t really like it and it’s not something I’d ever want guiding my life, but like I said, I kinda get it. I’m sure my mom would love it if I settled down with a Catholic. I had fun with you. I liked that you were so game to do stuff, from going on a longish walk uptown to hopping into an improv theater where I know a ton of people.
It’s an easy out to say “well, this went exactly as it had to,” but there’s a part of me that hopes this lack of interest wasn’t racially or culturally motivated. Maybe you don’t think I quite lived up to my profile picture either (it is a head shot, after all) or maybe you didn’t like the kinds of questions I asked. Maybe the way I drink a beer is really gross and nobody’s been able to tell me. Maybe I didn’t make you laugh so you knew you couldn’t love me forever. To me, those make better sense than the rather arbitrary fact that my ancestors partied with Jesus and yours didn’t.
The world is too big to say “I only date ____________.”