Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The most humiliating date story ever

Ever been on a date that was so awful, you just wanted to throw up? Well, I was having a terrific time with a fellow I actually liked and found attractive -- and I threw up.

Dating in the frum community is a little like dating in Grover's Corners: Everybody knows you, and from the first moment a pairing is suggested the questions fly -- do you think it's a good match? Is he smart enough for her? Is she religious enough for him? So the lack of privacy is abject.

My friend Carmella met Naftali one afternoon at a Shabbos lunch hosted by Eric and Ahuva. Carmella mentioned to me that she thought Naftali would be a good person for me to get to know; I called Ahuva and asked, "Do you think it's a good idea?" She said she'd talk to Eric and get back to me.

The next Shabbos, Carmella and I were standing outside synagogue when a very handsome young gentleman walked up, nodded hello to Carmella and entered the synagogue. I said, "Who's that? He's cute!"

"Oh, that's that guy Naftali, the one I thought would be good for you," said Carmella, "but I don't know. He might be too young."

I was scheduled to have lunch with Eric and Ahuva that afternoon -- as was Naftali -- so I asked them what they thought before he got there. "I don't know if he's mature enough," said Ahuva. Eric disagreed. "For the right girl," he said, "Naftali is mature enough." I wasn't sure I liked the sound of that, but figured it couldn't hurt to have Eric slip Naftali my phone number.

During lunch Naftali was attentive and charming. Eric called me Sunday morning, all a-twitter. "I saw Naftali at shacharit today," he said, "and told him, 'There's a certain person I know who wants to get to know you better.' Naftali said, 'Well, I'd like to get to know her better, so can you give me her phone number? And don't bother telling me anything about her, because if there's anything I want to know, I'll ask her myself.'"

Naftali called Monday night and we made plans to have dinner in Teaneck, New Jersey, where we were less likely to run into people we knew; both of us value our privacy. He gave me a choice of restaurants: dairy, meat, fish, or Chinese, which is what we settled on.

"Do you want dessert?" he asked as the dinner dishes were being cleared. "Life's too short to go without it."

Big mistake.

Dessert in a Chinese restaurant is usually candied lychee, sliced pineapple, and fortune cookies. Splitting a piece of chocolate layer cake was not a wise decision. I don't know how long it had been sitting there, but I doubt it was fresh; it certainly wasn't refrigerated.

After dinner, we went to fill up his gas tank and drive through the car wash. (Whee!) Then he decided to take me on a romantic drive along the Jersey shore to look at the Manhattan skyline.

The view was stunning. The car was not too hot and not too cold. The music on the radio was soft. And I started to feel... queasy.

At first I ignored it; then the discomfort grew stronger. "Do you feel funny?" I asked Naftali.

"I'm fine," he said. "Are you okay? Do you want me to stop the car?"

"No, no, I'm all right," I said. "I just feel a little funny."

We drove on, and I felt worse and worse. "I am not going to throw up," I told myself. "I am not going to throw up." That mantra became, "I am not going to throw up until I get home." Which gave way to, "I need to get out of the car." Spoken aloud in tones of urgency.

Naftali pulled over by a beautiful apartment complex on the water, and I stumbled out. I heard the car door slam.

"You don't have to get out," I said.

"Do you want me to hold your hair?" he asked anxiously.

"No, no, I'm fine," I said. "I think I just needed some fresh air."

I inhaled slowly and exhaled carefully. I turned around and almost didn't recognize him. The wisecracking demeanor had cracked. He looked concerned and, dare I say it, tender. I was reminded that he's an EMT, trained in first aid. Of all the men I've dated -- except maybe the gastroenterologist -- Naftali was probably the best equipped to deal with such a situation.

"I'll take you home," he said. We drove through the Holland Tunnel -- that was another mistake; the diesel fumes did not help. I felt awful.

"I don't think I'm going to make it home," I groaned.

"We'll go to Mendy's," Naftali said -- the uptown branch of the restaurant Seinfeld made famous, unfortunately now closed. "You can throw up there." But three blocks from Mendy's, I said, "Please stop the car." Again I stumbled out -- and, for the first time in my life, threw up in the street.

I was in agony. It was cold; I was shaking. Naftali bought me a bottle of water and draped my coat, which I had left in the car, around my shoulders.

"I'm sorry," I sniffled. "I'm so sorry. It's really not you."

"Don't apologize," said Naftali. "It happens."

"Not on dates," I wailed.

"Don't worry," he said. "I have eight nieces and nephews. I've dealt with a lot of vomit and other things I won't mention."

He drove me home. At my door, Naftali said, "Don't go into work tomorrow if you're not feeling better. I'll call you."

Words I've heard a million times before -- and yet, he called that morning to see if I was feeling better (I was; I was at work) and called again that night.

On Friday night I regaled my friends at synagogue with "the most humiliating date story ever," which they found hilarious. But beyond the hilarity of the situation, my friends were impressed with the way Naftali handled it. Even more impressive was the fact that he made plans to go out with me again.

Another friend of mine, Derek, is a physicist -- a very, very bright guy. Like all physicists, he is awash in theories -- even has one about people who throw up on dates.

"If you throw up on a date," Derek says, "one of two things will happen: Either you will never see that person again, or you will get married."

I was hoping to prove his theory correct. Unfortunately, our second date was our last, and Naftali is now married with -- last I heard -- two children.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"


  1. Great story. You had me going until the last line, when you acknowledged this happened several years ago!

    What prompted this stroll down Memory Lane? Was it Bina's baby's spitup?

  2. I don't know. I guess I thought it was appropriate. I don't think it was a vomit-association.