The most precious and irritating biological data God ever created, slithering around in the far backs of the Jewish DNA is the chromosome for matchmaking. All Jewish women are carriers but the trait only surfaces the day a Jewish woman gives birth to her firstborn baby daughter. A few hours after the birth, the baby might overhear her parents ohhing and ahhing over her behind the nursery viewing screen and may even feel a whiff of conceit. “I, a blubbery dumpling who is illiterate and still has some crusted amniotic fluid remnants on my left knee, is the greatest thing that ever happened to those suckers,” the baby will usually think. But what the baby fails to realize is that her mother’s adoring purrs are not only directed towards her. The mother also has her eyes feasted on that dashing male blob a crib over with the drool monsooning his face. “Eighteen years from now that baby boy will be having sex with my baby girl,” the mother will dream.
The mother’s dream will most likely come true. It is in the secular Jewish tradition that 18 years or so following a female’s birth, the innocent baby girl will grow up and blossom into a NONDISCRIMINATORY WHORE. She will date black men and Evangelical Christian men and anti-Semitic men and Republican men, but this is all okay because she makes a promise to God she will one day ditch all these men and marry a Jew. Even so, the mothers become nervous. They might sign their daughters up for J-Date or might fantasize about Jewish characters from FOX TV programs fertilizing their daughters with charismatic fetuses. “Seth Cohen from the O.C.!” my mother cheered one Thursday night, as Seth pulled his neck skin at weird angles for the camera. “If that boy wasn’t designed by God Himself to be Rachel’s soulmate then I don’t know who was!” I remind my mother that Seth was pretty gay (“He is always eyeing that Ryan character with a creepy, plotting look in his eye.’”) and so my mother moved onto other unattainables. “David Copperfield, the magician! Now there’s a catch.”
I considered this for a moment. David fishing a killer shark through the left hole of my nostril, his magic wand guiding the motions! David twisting my face into fun Picasso shapes and forgetting his trusted spell to undo me! David abracadabraing my brain into the pit of my stomach and then back to my brain! And repeat! Naturally, I worried about the difficulties of filing a domestic abuse suit against a magician (“I understand that it was in the name of magic, your honor—but he still dissected my lung!”) and told my mother magician boys were not really my thing.
When I moved to New York last September, my mother continued her matchmaking long distance. She had heard the Matzah Ball, billed the largest Jewish singles event in the entire world would be reeling into town in a few weeks and demanded I attend. No, never, I told her. I was too young, too idealistic. I was a 23-year-old recent college grad who still dressed like a reckless teenager. Not a twice divorced Botox addict in the midst of a drawn-out custody battle over the German exchange student and the Tupperware. “I’d rather stick molten lava all over my face!” I yelled, stupidly. But it was too late. My mother had already signed me up and there was no way I could get a refund. I was officially a few short steps away from the American life cycle of wed, divorce, wed, divorce, wed, divorce. I walked into the Matzah Ball that fateful evening rolling my eyes, intolerantly. I quickly sauntered over to the bar area and asked the bartender to spike my drink with some general anesthesia. Strangely, he refused but agreed to prepare me a vodka cranberry. I drank it down in three gulps and scanned my periphery vision for any signs of intelligent life. There was none. There was, however, a lipless Israeli man brushing his sweaty hand against my back
“Hello little girl,” said the sweaty pervert, “You look like a nice American girl. Are you a nice American girl? “Sorry, I’m waiting for a friend,” I answered, staring devotedly at the floor. I spiraled the room for awhile and eventually fell into conversation with Jerry, a 28-year-old ad exec with big, soupy eyes and a wrap-around mouth. I suddenly had that sick feeling young Jews often get when they recognize someone they’ve seen on J-date in real life. This feeling is made even sicker when they remember said J-Dater was leaning princely against a splashy red cornvertible in his default pic. “So do you love sports as much as I do?” Jerry asked within seconds of meeting me, “Because I’m a crazy University of Florida basketball fan! Go Gators!” He pumped his fist towards the high heavens. “Goooooo Gators!” he reiterated. Gary bought me a drink and provided me with stunning insight into the dark, well-twisted corridors of his soul. “I don’t know about you but I’m a huge romantic and I’m looking for “the one.” One of my favorite things to do is not just to have sex, though I do love that, but to snuggle. Love to snuggle! And I think that says a lot about my character. You know, I’m just going to put it all out on the table. I’m 28. Ready to settle down. And I think my mother is ready for me to settle down as well.” Oh my God. Please, here’s a knife, stab me.
It seemed every guy I had met that night had sworn under oath to their mothers they would return home from the event engaged (or laid, depending on their mother’s standards). It was a creepy feeling. The spirit of mothers all around you. A guy tells you you have a nice smile and all you can hear is a frizz-maned Jewish mother speaking through her nose, “Find out her ring size! For the sake of humanity, find out her ring size! The next morning, I called my mother to complain that Jerry had left three enthusiastic messages on my voicemail before 11:30 am. “It was like he was born out of some bent-up test tube that specializes in creating socially demented undesirables!” I cried. But my mother was not sympathetic. “Rachel, you don’t like anyone. You are not allowed to judge someone unless you have gone on at least one date with them!” "But Mom!" "Rachel…" "But Mom!" "Rachel…" "Fine!" Jerry picked me up from my house that night at 7:00 pm in a sulfur yellow station wagon that was not the car in his J-Date pic. The conversation sagged deeply from the beginning. “I hate cats,” I told him, because it was the first thing on my mind and I have a passion for nonsequitors, “I think all cats are evil and overly independent!” He stared at me darkly, “Um, have you ever even seen the look on a cat’s face after rescuing it from the top of a tree?” I hadn’t. I am a speciesist because I am ignorant because I am the unrehabilitated victim of the retrogressive Kentucky public school education system! “Well maybe if you got to know cats better before judging them you would know that they can be very vulnerable,” he shook his head three times, reflectively. “Very vulnerable” Jerry parked his car into a 7-11 parking lot and began raking his hand through my hair and neck. He whispered into my ear that he would never do anything but kiss me on the first date because he respected me and planned to be in a serious, exclusive relationship with me. With that, he grabbed my face by its sides and thrust his thick-veined tongue all the way down my digestive tract, probably into my respiratory tract as well. But it was still just a kiss. Jerry was a man of his word. “My mother raised me to be a good boy,” Jerry said lamely, “And I would never do anything to upset my mother.” Mother. The word wobbled in my brain for awhile, making me dizzy, delirious. “Mother other other eh eh eh,” I could hear Rhianna’s voice cooing from the radio that wasn’t turned on, “Under my mo-o-other other other eh eh eh eh eh eh.” “I have a wonderful surprise for you,” Jerry whispered, as he pulled into a neighborhood that looked suspiciously like the suburb. Outside the car window were trees smelling as fresh and tart as hippie cologne and birds chirping their sweet aviary catcalls at all those slut hummingbirds who were already nesting on, like, ten eggs each. Something told me we weren’t in Brooklyn anymore. “Rachel, what your little eyes are about to witness is the very town in Westchester where I grew up!” Jerry’s smile curled behind his gum-line. “Yay,” I said, blandly. I’ve noticed for awhile now that the homo sapien male will morph into this giant ADHD ball of excitement when given the chance to show off his hometown. "There’s the ol’ baseball field and there’s the ol’ pizza joint and there’s the ol’ homeless guy who has had that exact same crumb of dirt on his face for 23 years!” he will say. Luckily, Jerry’s tour of nostalgia was intercepted by a cell phone ringing in his jean pocket. The ring sounded louder and more urgent than it had been the rest of the night. Must be his mother, I thought. “Heya, mom!” Jerry clucked into the phone, “I’m in the car right now with that great girl I told you about! She just moved to New York from Kentucky. Yeah, she’s a real sweet girl. Jewish. Hmmm well, we are in the neighborhood …” Oh God. I have these phantom visions of hell that creep up on me sometimes when I am in strange situations. I’m sure this is normal. My hands are curved into handcuffs and a benighted hunk is dangling me by the legs into a fountain spiked with open-mouthed alligators. The heat is sucking every last bead of sweat from my dear sweat glands and there is nothing to breathe but carbon monoxide poisoning and— “Ouuuuur house!” Jerry sang operatically, waking me back to earth, “Is a very very very fine house. With two cats in the yaaaaard. Life used to be so haaaard.” I looked up and saw blurred sleepy colors of our car in a driveway and a woman flapping her arm at us in a window. Jerry? Jerry, where am I? What has become of me? Is that your mom? It was a surreal feeling, being plunked down into the worst hell in the universe, a kind of hell a few floors beneath hell.
“Please God” I prayed, “Just let me crawl back into the cozy little hell of my imagination, the one where I can trade close-fisted high fives with Axis of Evil VIPs and other friendly dictators. Please God.” God never did get back with me so I decided to try a less-noble strategy: lying. As subtly as ever, I told Gary I suddenly had a killer migraine headache that may or may not lead to early death. “Seriously man, I feel like I am pregnant in my skull! Would you like to feel the baby kick in my skull?” I asked him. But Gary just stared at me with his sad canine eyes of his, which made me want to pet his arm hair. I petted his arm hair for exactly eleven minutes and he did the same for mine. He then drove me home in silence and we said our goodbyes like we meant them. Shalom. Adios. Auf Weidenshein. See ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya. Goodbye! From that date on, I decided I was done with los Jewish muchachos, was done with their grandchild-hungry mothers slipping marriage licenses into their coat pockets. From that date on, I would be doing all of my soul mate recruiting at the New York Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood.
Those guys, I figured, would not be bringing any nice Jewish girls home to meet their mothers on the first date.