~Friday, September 27, 2013

One for the Books

Some time after the bathtub conversation, I had a ring on my finger. On my dirty, sweaty, unshowered, kickball finger. There's a difference between knowing you are going to spend the rest of your life with someone and actually actively planning to spend the rest of your life with someone. It's a big as the difference between I should write a book and I wrote a book.

I remember standing in the outfield of that kickball game, staring at my ring under the field lights. The ring sparkled. I can't believe someone loved me enough to propose to me. I couldn't stop the thought. It was there. 

I think that's been my deep, dark fear all this time. I always knew I would be 30 and single. I knew that when I was 8 years old. I would be a late bloomer. When I imagined my life at a distant 30 years old, I was always alone. When 30 became too close, I started imagining my life at 40 years old. At 40, ideas became murkier. I didn't have three kids, but I wasn't alone. 

When I imagined this phantom husband-to-be, he was always wearing a suit. I can't even think of a profession that requires a suit every day, but that's what he wore, along with a boring black tie. He was breathless from rushing around, presumably from doing adult things that required suits. And he had a bit of a belly from too many cheeseburgers during lunch. 

Apparently I spent more time thinking about this than I realized. 

But my Abraham doesn't eat cheeseburgers. He has a one suit for both weddings and funerals. I hate this suit. It's chocolate brown, and  it's impossible to find a coordinating shirt and tie that matches the color of dog dung. If he's breathless, it's from asthma.  

Most often, your idea for the book is not the book you end up writing. The book is always so much better. 

~Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Kosher Lobster

I grew up by the sea. Summers were spent in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, part of the outer banks. There we would eat shrimp by the platter. Over the years we added all of the islands of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. I learned to love scallops in Frogmore, South Carolina. Oysters in Jekyll Island, Georgia. Florida was too touristy for my family; for our vacations we traveled North. Myrtle Beach. Fripp Island. Oak Island.

I remember my mother steaming crabs in our kitchen, screaming when one didn't make it into the pot. Seafood was a way of life for us. It was a right. The pursuit of happiness and king crab legs.

So what did I do? I fell in love with a New York Jew who keeps kosher style. Bottom feeders are not allowed. For seafood to be kosher, it must have both fins and scales. No crustaceans. No shrimp. No catfish. It's treif, he said.

It's delicious, I said.

In the beginning, he would go to seafood restaurants with me, begrudgingly ordering chicken fingers off the children's menu. I ordered the lobster stuffed with scallops and shrimp. Nothing about it was kosher style. He stared at me while I writhed with glee in my chair, picking at the shell and sucking my fingertips.

I loved lobster and I loved Abraham.

As we became serious, we had the talk. We were in the bathtub of all places, my urban ocean.

"I love you and I'm not willing to lose you over religion," I told him. "If being Jewish is what makes you who you are, what makes you good and kind and loving, then that is a religion I want to know."

Abraham squeezed my knee in response, never speaking a word.

"On one condition," I added thoughtfully. "I don't have to give up seafood."

Abraham nodded, accepting my terms.

And with that we became the paradox that is Kosher Lobster.