The thing about Jerusalem is, you’re bound to run into someone you know at some point.
And by “you” I mean, “me.”
Which is another way of saying, while waiting for the bus the other day, the gentleman who walked by and then parked himself right behind me and who looked suspiciously like the gentleman in the States who had once stolen my heart, was no doubt the very same man.
And the skinny blonde by his side?
I didn’t want to know. I hid beneath my wide-brimmed hat until the bus came and then jumped aboard. I just didn’t have the energy to go over and say hello, even though I knew he would be perfectly pleasant. He’s a lovely man provided you have no romantic expectations. And by “you” I mean, “me.”
But I just physically couldn’t endure another “kiss-kiss, hello-hello, this is the love of my life, sorry it wasn’t you, babe,” interaction.
The thing is, I don’t even care so much about this particular man. It’s merely the fact that he’s attached and I am not that gets me down.
Which reminds me of another incident. A few years ago, back in my hometown of Chicago, I was pedaling my little legs as fast as I could on my bicycle to the idol worshipper store.
Idol worshipper store?
Yes. The “spiritual goods” store where you can stock up on statuettes, incense and special herbal blends, the better to cast a magic spell.
It wasn’t my idea. My mother had called me up to tell me about a National Public Radio segment where a Jewish woman confessed to burying a statue of a saint in her backyard and then voila! She then met her husband.
“It can’t hurt,” was how my mom put it.
We decided together that it wasn’t idol worship. That, in fact, it was the opposite: pikuach nefesh (saving a life). In other words, desperate times….
And so it was that soon afterwards I found myself on my bike heading towards salvation. En route, who did I pass but a particular young man I had dated who broke it off because he wasn’t interested in being in a relationship. Which is another way of saying, he was not interested in being in a relationship with me.
Which explains why he was so cavalierly holding hands with a lithe, pony-tailed woman who was decidedly not his sister.
“Oh, Abby,” you’re probably saying. “Just move on. Forgetaboutit!”
I mean, it’s not a conspiracy. Sometimes you run into someone you once wanted to be with who would rather be with someone else, and sometimes you go to the saint store.
“I’m very old and not married,” was what I said to the woman behind the counter. “What kind of saint do you have for me?”
“Saint Antony,” she said, without cracking a smile. She pulled out a wee statuette of a balding man draped in robes. He was carrying a plump baby boy in his arms.
“What a cutie!” I said. “Who’s the baby?”
She looked at me in disbelief.
“That’s baby Jesus!” she said.
What do I know? We never learned about Baby Jesus at Solomon Schechter.
“I’ll take two,” I said. Just kidding. I took one. And then went home and put him on the mantel, next to my chanukiah and my colorful matt from Kakadu. I lit some incense and some candles and prayed to G-d. To my G-d.
“Listen, G-d,” I said, after introducing myself, first and last name, in both English and Hebrew, just in case. “I’m Jewish,” I clarified. I made sure the heavens knew that I do not under any circumstances pray to any baby, no matter how cute. Or to any berobed man, no matter how sweet.
I only pray to one G-d, the G-d of our ancestors.
And only, sometimes, under dire circumstances, do I also rely on the kindness of other people’s gods.
We had a deep chat, the heavens and I, while my dog snored audibly. When the whole prayer session was over, I made a few phone calls, read a book, and then went to bed.
Which is another way of saying, there is no moral here. And there is no meaning.
A few years later I moved to Israel.
And not long after that I saw on the street someone I used to like very much.
Which is another way of saying, time to stop taking public transportation.
Does anyone know a private driver out there looking for work? n
Abigail Pickus is a writer living in Israel. Her “Matchup” column appears the first week of the month. Follow her blog “Abigail in Love (Maybe)” at www.thejewishweek.com.