For those who might be unfamiliar: “Seinfeld” is a TV series from the 1990's about the absurdities of New York City life; a genre study whose ironic (and iconic) claim to fame is that it lacks a plot – “it’s about nothing”.
My Trusty Friend, who came with me to the hypnotist in an earlier post, has shared stranger things than that with me. We once went on a date with my future husband – together.
Sometimes, TF comes to my work place and does professional stuff. At the time in question, we had known in advance that we were both going to be finished at the same time, so we had made plans: we’re gettin’ out of here – together! This was a not uncommon occurrence – get out of work, go and have a coffee, hang out a bit, try to find some shoes to buy (always chasing after shoes!) – have a little girl-time, which all females so sorely need. I myself had a DATE set up for later in the day – the fifth in a series of hitherto not overly promising episodes – but not until three o’clock, I told her, which would give TF and me two hours to enjoy while I was waiting for the date to occur.
So, off we went to the locus that we used to favor at the time. We were chatting up a storm, selecting seats, dropping our purses on the floor, practically falling over trying to retrieve them, and finally settling, somewhat unsteadily, on our perches at the fifties’ style counter, starting to peruse the menu.
And all of a sudden, in the middle of salads versus omelets, who materializes, as it were, out of thin air? Mr. You-Know-Who, arriving one hour and forty-five minutes early. What kind of business?! Carrying a rose, indeed (yellow – so misguided, when there is pink!), and he had done something to his eyes, switched them on or something; blazing turquoise headlights. This was a man out to conquer.
And this is where, forever, he gained some very substantial brownie points with me. He greeted us both with grace and ease, as if it were the most natural thing in the world to have a date-with-friend and he had been planning it this way all along, explaining the circumstances that had led him to the neighborhood earlier than expected - but how had he known where to find us? I’m still wondering, ten years later. It’s no use asking him – he barely remembers what he had for breakfast. He must have been spying, lurking about in the streets…
TF was visibly embarrassed – the code of honor among girl friends clearly states that you do not encroach on your friend’s dates; you remove your person at the earliest convenience, should a male personage appear at the horizon – but You-Know-Who was completely relaxed, making conversation, waving off her apologies and saying things like, “Hi TF, how are you; nice to meet you; sit down for goodness’ sakes; what would you like for lunch” and such pleasantries. He was so perfectly at ease, so perfectly pleasant and hospitable, so perfectly gentlemanly, never for a split second allowing TF to feel that she was one too many, that I was filled with respect and admiration. (It was, truly, a Jane Austen moment.)
I joined my entreaties with his, because the funny thing was that to me as well it felt absolutely right – why shouldn’t she join us? She and I had planned our time together – why should we give it up? And You-Know-Who’s laid-back attitude freed me to be myself and relax into the moment; there were none of the disappointments or irritations, or thwarted expectations, that many a lesser man might have displayed.
And we had a very good time, the three of us, even though TF still felt that the situation was quite absurd – the stuff of sitcoms. She referred to it then, and many times afterwards, as a real “Seinfeld episode”. And it was, but not one “about nothing”, but one about the budding appreciation of a certain woman for a certain male person; an appreciation that ultimately led to a wedding. This turned out to be the date when I fell in love…
B’kiso, b’koso, b’ka’aso – that is how one knows a person: what he has in his pocket, how he uses that money and the power that comes with it; in his cups, when inhibitions come down and the truth comes out – what is revealed; and how he handles himself in his anger, when faced with stress, disappointment or frustration. Another excellent gauge is the one my Trusty Friend unwittingly provided: take along a friend on a date!
* * *
TF and I would meet fairly regularly, and six or seven weeks after the Seinfeld date, when we got together again for our coffee and girl-time, I had news to impart. Big news. When the coffee was drunk I jumped to my feet. “Come on – I have to go and buy a snood!”
This was for me one of the most tangible and coveted symbols of my new condition as a kallah, a bride in the making – one that I had longed for more than words could describe. Very soon, I was - finally! - going to get to cover my hair, becoming officially recognizable, not only as a successfully married woman, but as an unquestionably frum one. For at a certain point of one’s life, if the hair still remains uncovered, there are always people who will wonder if it is due to a lack of Torah observance, not realizing that it is “only” the lack of a husband. I used to suffer keenly from these questions, usually unspoken yet somehow heard, and I am sure many other “late bloomers” have felt the same. We went together to a tichel store and I tried on snood after snood, while TF looked on, discussing the merits of each one, sharing with me a few emotional tears…
Trusty Friend (you know who you are) – kol hakavod!