We were facing west, bright orange sunset glow all around us. Just the two of us, on the beach. When my mother told me,
“Just. . . please don’t marry a Jewish boy.”
She asked, really.
I must have been twenty. Growing up in a town with two temples, I had three Jewish friends, had attended a single Bat Mitzvah, and had two Jewish acquaintances from my ballet studio I probably would have counted as enemies if they’d ever acknowledged my existence. But now I was going to a college that was one-third Catholic, one-third Jewish, and one-third Other. I’m pretty sure I’d never been Other before.
A family friend a few years older than me had recently gotten married and converted, and my mom was concerned about the eternal fates of the souls of her unborn grandchildren.
I’m pretty sure I didn’t make any promises.
So the Jew thing doesn’t throw me, even though he might not love questions like, “If you’re kosher, is it ok to eat chicken with eggs?” (I’d been wondering that for a while.) And I’m doing a pretty good job of ignoring the fact that he’s 25 because he’s almost 26. And anyway, he’s cute enough and clever enough, and it’s just for fun.
“Did you ever play an instrument?”
“Flute in middle school band. And I can, like, play a song on a piano. How ’bout you?”
“I played clarinet.”
It’s this that stops me in my tracks. I think he’s joking, this boy who has access to so many of my secrets. I don’t believe him at first, but when I realize he’s serious, I’m disappointed.
“It’s just. . . that’s sort of a dealbreaker.”
He must think I’m joking.
I fall asleep, all wrapped up in his arms, mumbling something about just wanting to find a nice WASPy boy who plays something like. . . a trumpet.