Category Archives: love

The Year of the Jewish Husband

After a couple of years running through the vast sea of non-Jewish men, my friend Mark and I decided that 2010 would be “The Year of the Jewish Husband.” Our “dating” lives seemed to parallel each other. There was a period of time when we were both, um, “entertaining” black men, younger men, Latino men, and just plain old white guys (not “old” white guys, just your run-of-the-mill white guy.)

Both of us had quite a flurry of men after we had both ended long-term relationships, both with white Catholic guys. I was married for 7 years and Mark was with his lover for the same amount. 2010 seemed like the time to buckle down and find the man that our mothers always hoped we would.

In a previous post, “Heckling At The Matzo Ball With Cocoa Butter Mark,” I end with our very short-lived desire and effort to join JDate. I was in my sunroom lounging on a chaise, glass of wine nearby, laptop on my, well, lap, and Mark was undoubtedly at a Starbuck’s, complaining about noisy kids, with his laptop on a table. We said, “One, two, three, GO!” and logged on to the registration page simultaneously.

The questions went something like this:

“What tribe do you belong to?”

a) Ashekanazy

b) Sephardic

c) Really bad Jew

d) Other

“What am I?” Mark asked?

“Well you’re kind of dark so just go with Sephardic.”

“What dietary restrictions do you follow?”

a) I keep kosher, of course. That way I get to have 2 sets of Crate and Barrel dishes!

b) I put bacon on everything.

c) I’m on a liquid fast.

d) Other

“How many times have you been to Israel?”

a) HELLO, I was bar/bat mitvahed in Israel!

b) Never. I’m too afraid to fly.

c) Once but it was so hot I just stayed in my hotel

d) Other

At this point, I knew I wasn’t the type of Jew they were looking for, and after a quick search of “Men seeking Men,” Mark decided that he wasn’t either.

We gave up and went on to talk about other more pressing things, like who got eliminated on Project Runway or the cute black bartender we both had a little crush on at our favorite dive bar. Onward and upward!

Around three or 4 months after this, Mark met someone that he seemed very excited about. Mark has the great ability to be cautious, to not get ahead of himself when it comes to relationships, but I could tell that he was hopeful about this one. His last name is Nunez. From then on, he has simply been know as “The Nunez.” He’s Dominican and a real throwback to 2009 when, for me at least, it was “The Year of the Dominican.”

Not long after, just as I was about to throw in the towel on, I met my now remarkable husband, whose last name just happens to be Rodriguez. Yeah. Now, instead of “The Year of the Jewish Husband,” it has become “The Century of the Jewtino.” We have even invented a cocktail—a Jewtini which is a delightful combination of rum, Coco Libre and Manischewitz, which premiered at our Jewtino Passover. If we had a spokesman he would look something like Geraldo Rivera or Juan Epstein from “Welcome Back Kotter.”

We have both found true love in these incredible men. Everyone adores “The Nunez” and Ricardo Rodriguez. Mark and I have never been happier. He told this story at my wedding celebration and of course brought the house down (when he wasn’t tearing up as he is known to do). We have no regrets for closing out “The Year of the Jewish Husband.” We adore our spicy Latino men for everything they are and we love that we still bring out the “Jewish” in each other, throwing around the occasional Yiddish phrase while the men look on and grin.

I Do

At 46, I have officially begun the second chapter of my life, with a love that will endure through my “middle ages” and beyond.

On January 8th, 2011, I married a miraculous man in front of 30 family members and friends. We said the following words to each other while grinning, tearing up and trembling. It might seem self-serving to so publicly document them, but, for the many, many dear friends who couldn’t be there, we wanted you to be part of this event in any way possible. We look forward to many supplemental celebrations, both big and small:

Rick to me:

My dearest Gayle:
My life was changed that fateful day. I knew I was in trouble…the good kind! I remember getting to the restaurant early to make sure that all was perfect. I remember ordering two shots of Patron (on ice)…just like you wanted. I remember seeing you drive in. Me coming out the door. You getting out of your car. You looking across the parking lot right at me. And your incredible smile! A beautiful beam of light. I remember half walking / half running to you. Taking you in. The first touch and kiss. Passionate, yet gentle and kind. I remember your scent (don’t ever change it…it’s you!!!).

I remember how nervous I was. How you helped me to feel at ease. Drinking that shot. I remember how incredibly beautiful you looked that night. I remember the most wonderful dinner of my life. Getting to know about you. How I couldn’t think of any place that I would’ve rather been at that moment in time. I remember how I didn’t want it to end. And, most important, how happy and care free I felt right then and there….with you. That night, I fell in love with you!

You, Gayle, have made me a better person. You made me face my evils and deal with them head on…one by one. You have made me happier than I have been in a long, long time. It’s been difficult at times. I thank you for your patience, kindness and compassion.

You gave me my life back. Because of you I’m closer to Danny and Alex than I have ever been. Because of you I have tried so many new things…getting me out of my very limited comfort zone. It’s your amazing joy of life that I love the most. How even in my most challenging situations you have the ability to bring me back to center. No matter how dark I see the situation you always make me see the light on the other side.

I’m thankful to you for bringing Amelia into my life. How privileged I feel that you found me important enough to take that step…To have me meet the most important person in your life.

I’m thankful for embracing Alex and Danny as you have. How you have become a second mother to them. How you have made them feel comfortable and at ease and that everything will be OK. And, that they see just how happy you have made me. How you have made a home for them where they are always welcomed.

I thank you for embracing my family and friends. And in turn, how you have made me part of your family. I thank your family for embracing me the way they have. I have really enjoyed the time we have spent together and look forward to many more good times.

I thank you for introducing me to the most important people in your life. Some of which are here today. Your friends are your life. I’m honored, considering the place that some of them hold in your life.

Now, on to the vows….

Gayle, here in front of all our closest friends and family, I make you the following simple promises –
● To love you more than any other
● To always respect you
● To care for you when you need me to
● To give you space when you feel you need it
● To be a second father to Amelia and become an integral part of her life and she in mine
● To provide for us all to the best of my ability
● To continue to remind myself that every day can and will be better than the day before
● And, to never forget what it was that brought us to this point
These things I promise to you unconditionally.

I’m incredibly happy to be your husband. I’m incredibly lucky to be your partner in life. I love you so very much.

Me to Rick:

My dearest Rick-

By now, I think everyone here knows how we met. After months of online dating profiles of men who had pictures of themselves holding up big fish and those who couldn’t complete a sentence if their lives depended on it, along came you with that open smile and complete paragraphs, not a spelling error in sight. You were a member for less than 24 hours and there was no way I was going to let another woman get to you first.

So, in proceeding to instant message each other, e-mail and talk on the phone, I knew that by the time I met you, we were already under each other’s skin and it would have taken something very dramatic and unexpected to extract ourselves from our quickly-beating hearts.

I remember reading to you over the phone, even before we met met in person, that list I made of the qualities I wanted in a man, from the most mundane to the most critical. We were both stunned into silence, because besides just 2 of about 40, you clearly fit the bill. And now, not only do you DRINK coffee but you make a better pot than I do, and you podcast Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.

You’ve often told the story of seeing me across the parking lot for the first time. Well, I saw you too, as I approached to where you were waiting and I too knew that something big was about to happen. What an amazing first date. I will NEVER forget watching the stars through your open sunroof, leaning into you like I had known you forever.

On our next date, we sat side-by-side making a list of all the places we wanted to go together on road trips, both near and far. We’ve added a LOT of things to that list, from get Gayle a Mac to driving across the country in a Winnebago with the kids, to getting to Spain someday. I have absolute faith that we will do it all.

Einstein says that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Well, having been drawn to chaos for most of my life, gravitating apparently to what I knew, according to Einstein’s definition, I am no longer insane. You have brought a sense of calm into my life that I always knew I wanted, but never thought I’d find. I am being taken care of for the first time, and after a life of figuring it all out for myself, I am ready to relinquish control, no easy feat for me, to you, the most capable man I have ever known.

I in turn, have never wanted to do so much for someone, to ensure you, that you too, will always be taken care of.

I love observing you in your “happy places”–at the helm of your boat, laughing until you cry while watching guy stuff with the boys and assessing a perfectly vacuumed room.

You make me believe that anything can happen and boost me up when I have lost confidence in myself. I promise to always do the same for you.

I can speak to you all day and still light up when you walk in the door. I still walk around like a teenager, knowing that we have found a remarkable love. Even if times get tough, that is what will bring me back around-thinking of those ear-to-ear grins that we have shared just by looking at each other. We are lucky. We can never forget how lucky we are in having found each other- a nice Jewish girl from Long Island and a Puerto Rican guy from the middle of nowhere in New York.

*(I feel it’s important to note that, in breaking with tradition, I allowed Rick to see me before the ceremony to partake in an icy, cold shot of Patron, hidden in our own secret place, together, at last.)

The Fine Art of Scaring Men

The writing was apparently on the wall when in kindergarten I paid boys a penny to kiss me. Or maybe it was when I threw a neighbor into a thorn bush and tied him up with kite string (To be fair, he did choke me with my scarf at the bus stop.)

By 3rd or 4th grade I was reckless with scribbled love notes, perhaps with a too-intimidating vocabulary for boys who still chose grunting over speaking. Maybe it was because I was a bit of a behemoth with size C boobs, towering over the other girls in my class . There were many times I would call a guy over, sit him down, tell him how I felt about him, only to hear things like “I really like you as a friend, but…” My girl friends, trying to encourage me, would say “You have a really pretty face and a great personality.” Awesome. Thanks.

It was probably as early as junior high that some slimy man stopped me while I was in Manhattan and said he knew some “producer” who was looking for “zaftig” girls. REALLY???? REALLY???

Eventually, most of my “bulk” spread out into a 5’9′ frame, curvy in the right places, “pretty face” and “great personality” fairly unscathed. I still blamed not having a boyfriend until 19 on my size, so, I suppose that it helped that my very first was 6’6″ (but skinny as a stick.) I think he sort of stumbled into me without really knowing what he was getting himself into, but, we were suddenly having sex for the first time in our lives, and God knows, a 19-yr-old man is not just going to throw that out the window too easily. In the end, I think I scared his FAMILY more than him.

At 23, I met a lovely, funny, but very quiet man who later became my fiance. We bonded over our love of the Flinstones, language and music. It was the first time either of us had ever been in such a heady, love bubble but, well, he apparently fell in love with someone else and we never got married (he eventually married her.) His two best friends are still friends of mine and I know that he has avoided, at all costs, being in the same place at the same time as me. Worked very hard at it, as a matter of fact. I can just see him, all beet red and tremendously uncomfortable. I don’t understand why because I would love to see him again, 20 years later, and compare lives. I sense it’s fear-based and not his shame over having ditched me for his “soul mate.” I can’t imagine what he would expect me to do if he saw me.

In my 30s I think I scared a man from Oklahoma, already teetering on the edge, to fully come out of the closet. On a more disturbing note, there was a man who very clearly liked young girls and I think realized, after not being able to “perform” with me, that that was who he really was and has sinced moved to Thailand. An English guy who stood me up and left me frantically worried claimed he was in a car accident and in the hospital but after a carefully orchestrated stakeout with a friend of mine, we discovered he was lying.

Recently, a friend of mine was going to fix me up with someone and said before he and I had met “Don’t scare him off!” I was truly insulted by this. It wasn’t because a button in me had been pushed but because the implication was that I was so off-putting that a seemingly strong, funny and intelligent man in his late 40s wouldn’t be able to deal with me. In the end, we never met, but I am pretty confident that he would not have cowered in fear in my presence.

The most wonderful of men have stood the test of time with me and been drawn to me. These are the ones who love that I go in first for the kiss, that I make the first phone call (my ex-husband said that he never would have made the first phone call and was thrilled that I did), that I talk to strangers and make friends with waitstaff, and that I am effusive with my feelings. Certainly, at this point in my life, it’s way too late to change who I am and I have no intention of trying to be something I’m not. I like me and my strengths and hope I pass every ounce of confidence onto my daughter. Perhaps I should advise her though, that throwing boys in thorn bushes is not really the best of tactics and that a good kiss is worth MUCH more than a penny.