Spring, 2005 when I was separated but not legally divorced and still living with Dipshit
I was doing the duck/squat walk between cars in a Target parking lot, whispering into the phone with Kony. “Yes, I’m sure it’s him,” I hissed into the phone, raising myself up to look over the hood of a car to confirm what I already knew to be true. “He’s fat and wearing his hat.” I paused for a moment. “No Dr. Seuss reference intended,” I assured a laughing Kony.
“Ma’am, do you need help?”
I fell flat on my ass in surprise, and looked up to see two amused, though obviously concerned, plumbers observing me. At least, I assumed they were plumbers, standing by a plumbing truck such as they were. “Kony, I’ve got to go. I’ll call you when I’m done,” I said. “No, no, everything’s fine,” I assured her. “Just two guys wondering why I’m walking like a duck between cars in a Target parking lot.” I heard her laughing while I hung up.
“Everything is… fine. Just fine.” I got to my knees and looked over the hood of the car again. I couldn’t see him. “Um, do you see a guy who looks like he just escaped from the Amish anywhere?” I asked the plumbers.
They both walked to the other end of their van and looked around. “There’s a guy getting into his Toyota that could be Amish,” one of the plumbers said. “Yeah, he’s definitely Amish.”
“He’s not actually Amish,” I explained as I stood up and began brushing at my knees and the seat of my jeans. “He’s Jewish. Orthodox. Which he never mentioned in his dating profile.”
The plumbers started laughing. “You met him on a dating website?”
I sighed. “You would be amazed at the fine, quality people you can meet on a dating site.” My voice was dripping with sarcasm.
“He’s driving this way,” the older plumber said. I hit the ground again. A few moments passed and the plumber said, “You’re good.”
“So what’s up with this guy?” the older plumber asked.
“Yeah, met him on a dating website. His profile mentioned he was Jewish. I thought maybe he’d be like a Harry from Sex and the City, but no. He’s an Orthodox Jew who is straight up Orthodox, looks like he escaped from Amish country, and smells like a sweaty compost pile.”
And this is the story of the Smelly Jew (from here on, I’ll refer to him as SJ).
I’m sorry for my lack of political correctness here.
Please, under no circumstances should you think I have anything against Jewish people. I don’t. One of my favorite series of books from childhood was All Of A Kind Family, written by Sydney Taylor, about a Jewish couple living on the lower east side of Manhattan at the turn of the (last) century with their four girls (in the second book, their son Charlie is born). The religion itself fascinates me, and I have Jewish friends. But just as there are Orthodox Catholics, there are Orthodox Jews, and many of their members, to me anyways, look like Amish escapees. And in my defense, I asked him even before we met in person if he was okay with me being a Catholic. He asked if I was practicing and I told him that primarily, I don’t. You’d think that would be a perfect lead for him to tell me that he was Orthodox. And practicing. So when he showed up at my door with his hat in hand, I wasn’t quite cool with the fact that he had blatantly omitted the fact that he was an Orthodox Jew.
Also, to be fair, the fact that SJ smelled wasn’t entirely his fault. It’s a given fact that many people who adopt certain diets may have a certain scent to them, and I’m totally cool with it. What I certainly wasn’t cool with was the fact that SJ didn’t shower after his game of pick-up basketball at a local community center.
I definitely wasn’t cool with the fact that SJ started slamming Catholicism when he saw my Bible sitting on my bookshelf.
And I for sure wasn’t cool with the fact that he pushed his way into my apartment when he came to pick me up for our date. A mistake I immediately regretted for reasons I’ll get to in a moment.
I’m not saying I’m the best little Catholic out there (y’all can stop laughing at that understatement any time now); it’s true I’ve adopted more of a Christian/Zen/Karmic way of life/thinking. And I could understand if SJ was slamming the way in which the Catholic Church completely ignored the Holocaust, but the truth was, he was slamming everything about the Catholic religion, from our prayers to our hymns to our Mass. After I had already told him that I was a non-practicing Catholic.
Then he asked me if I’d convert to Judaism.
Um, hi. We just met twenty minutes ago, and you’ve already slammed religious basis. No.
He sat down on my couch and was surprised when my cat jumped up to sniff him. “You have cats?” he asked.
“Um, yeah. I mentioned that in my profile under the ‘Do You Have Pets?’ section.”
“Oh. It doesn’t smell like you have cats in here.”
“You have a lot of books,” SJ continued. “Do you read a lot?”
“No. They’re mainly for show,” I replied.
“Oh, good. Women who read a lot are boring.” Apparently the sarcasm I’d used in my response went completely over his head. “Oh, you like movies!” he cried, spying the collection of DVDs in the other bookcase. “My favorite movie is Dumb and Dumber. Did you like that one?”
“No. I thought it was dumb.” I said, quite deadpanned but also quite serious (my apologies to Jeff Daniels, whom I love, and Jim Carrey, but I’m not drinking the Dumb and Dumber Kool-Aid).
He laughed and said, “You’re so funny!” And then he tried to kiss me.
For twenty minutes I played the duck and dodge game with him until I finally cornered him in the foyer and got him to leave. Without me. I placed a delivery order with the Italian place down the street, changed into my pajamas and settled in with a glass of wine and a book.
Two hours, my Italian chopped salad and two glasses of wine later, SJ called.
I let it go to my answering machine.
“Hey, it’s me. SJ. Just wondering when we were going on a real date. If you want to go right now, I’m in the neighborhood. Let me know. Bye.”
And thus it began.
For two months, I’d get a call or three a day. He was stalking me. “Hey, it’s me. SJ. I see your lights on and I can see you walking around so I know you’re home. Why aren’t you answering my calls? Did I do anything to offend you? Are you mad at me?”
It got so bad that even Dipshit got involved. I was in the bedroom, my usual refuge when Dipshit was home and in the apartment, when I heard the phone ring. “Don’t answer that!” Dipshit called from the living room. “Hello?” I heard him say as he tapped on the bedroom door. I opened it. “No, she’s not available right now. She’s in the shower. We’re going to dinner to celebrate our reconciliation.” There was a slight pause. “That means we’re getting back together. Don’t call here. She’s not interested and if you continue calling, we’ll both slap a Personal Protection Order on your ass.” Dipshit hung up. “It’s the least I could do,” he said to me.
The phone was silent after that.
Two months later, with the divorce finalized and me living back here in Detroit with my mom, an Instant Message popped up on my computer.
“Hey, where have you been?” It was SJ.
“Detroit. My husband and I moved back last month to be closer to family.”
“Oh. You should have told me.”
And after blocking his ID, that was that.