Monday, June 1, 2015

Studies in Humiliation Vol. 2: That Time I Was Rejected by An Orthodox Jewish Ginger Whom I Later Concluded Was Possibly Gay

Most people would rather forget their most humiliating and demoralizing experiences. I prefer to recall mine vividly and preserve them for posterity by announcing them to the world. 

I consider it a form of community service.

As a sequel (technically a prequel) to Studies in Humiliation Vol. 1: That Time I Threw My Undies on Stage at The Jersey Shore, and landing squarely in category #1 of the Five Categories of Rejection, I now present Studies in Humiliation Vol. 2: That Time I Was Rejected by An Orthodox Jewish Ginger Whom I Later Concluded Was Possibly Gay.

During a six-week break between semesters my sophomore year of college, I had an unpaid, make-work internship helping graduate students in something shuffle papers somewhere (as college kids are wont to do). One of these grad students was an adorable, red-headed, Orthodox Jewish late twenties-something whom I will call "Sam."

Sam took a shine to me and vice-versa. We spent tons of time together. I was often at his apartment, where he lived with several roommates, at least two of whom were in rabbinical school. There was the whole separate sink and dishwasher deal going on there for Kosher compliance purposes. Sometimes I'd eat dinner with him and his roommates, and we'd discuss theology and the relative merits of the secular versus the religious life. It was like A Stranger Among Us minus Melanie Griffith and the police procedural intrigue. 

I was pretty fascinated by Sam's scene. Although I'm Jewish, my parents are secular Jews who reject all forms of organized religion, including their own. So it was a bit of an anthropological experience and an education for me to fake-date an Orthodox Jewish guy. 

I use the term "fake-date" very deliberately here, because that is exactly what it was. We walked around every afternoon engrossed in Deep Conversation About Life. He could (and did) play all of Neil Young's Harvest Moon on acoustic guitar. (It's not fake-dating without some Neil Young).

I even slept on his couch a few nights, and that is where the wheels came off the bus to Sam-town.

I've had friends recount bizarre relationship situations to me before. I have women friends worry aloud to me that they might be "deformed" because the guy they are dating appears to be suffering from significant sexual hangups. I also have women friends who automatically assume that any man who isn't interested in them must be gay, and I envy that assumption and the bullet-proof self-esteem it represents. Because my first conclusion upon hearing that I did not exactly do it for Sam was a bit of a blow to my ego, and despite having many gay friends and family members, the possibility that Sam could be gay had never crossed my mind. 

The exact way he put the "I'm just not that into you" sentiment to me was a bit explicit, but suffice it to say it was something I had never heard before, and haven't heard since. It wasn't my lack of religiosity (as he seemed to be questioning his life's course in this respect anyway) or at least he didn't say it was. He also did not say he was gay, of course. But nor did he offer a credible, non-anatomical explanation for The Problem with me, him, and the couch. 

After my third (non-consecutive) night of couch-duty, I decided it was all too weird and I needed to get the fuck up out of Dodge. It was toward the end of my internship and I knew I wouldn't be seeing Sam anymore. I gathered my things, left quietly in the middle of the night, and never spoke to Sam again. I cast him in my memory as just another ambivalent dude in a long string of ambivalent dudes to waltz (or do the Horah) in and out of my life.

Years later, my Jewish ginger husband tried to convince me that there is no way a heterosexual man would bench (couch?) a 20 year-old woman like that, no matter what she looked like. Granted he is biased, because the couch is the last place he wants me to sleep. So maybe he suffers from the opposite problem. 

But the fact of the matter is that sometimes people just aren't that into you, and it doesn't really matter why. It helps to imagine that it's something immutable, like you're the wrong religion or the wrong gender, and in this case, it could have been one, both, or neither.

One of the things most women realize a little bit too late for their own good is that sometimes a guy just isn't that into you, at least not in the way or at the level you would like or expect him to be. 

It doesn't make you hideous, and it doesn't make you a bad person. It just makes it what it is, and that's OK.

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