Missed Signals, And How


‘How was your tour of the Old City?” I asked my friend who traveled all the way from Chicago to visit me.

“Oh, Abigail,” she said, her eyes gleaming, “I met the most wonderful guy. His name is Phil.”

She had been in Israel fewer than 24 hours and already she was trying to find me a husband. After all, she had a boyfriend waiting for her back home. And how much can a person learn about the Kotel, anyway? Not as much, it seems, as someone can learn about a certain 40-something Phil from the East Coast who was taking a solo vacation in Israel.

“So lovely, Abigail!” said my friend. “And with such a sweet face. And when I told him about you he absolutely lit up. You just have to meet him.”

I should note here that my friend is one of the most positive people I know. I would say her positivity is catching, but in my case, I’d be lying.

“But he lives in America!” I said. “And even if we do fall in love, how do you know he doesn’t have a wife?”

“No ring,” she said.

“He could still have a wife or a girlfriend,” I said.

But G swore he never mentioned a significant other.

So we decided that he was recovering from a terrible and painful breakup and had come to Israel to clear his head. Which was another way of saying, he was just what the doctor ordered.

G wasted no time in setting up an intimate dinner for three. “You and Phil will be on a date and I’ll be there, too,” was how she put it.

Secretly, I put no stock in the guy, and by secretly I mean I let my friend know that the whole thing was a waste of time.

“He probably looks like a naked mole rat,” I thought, and then it occurred to me that G would be the one person capable of finding beauty in that wrinkled, beady-eyed, buck-toothed, plump pudding of a rodent. “What sweet pink skin!” she’d no doubt say, “and such nice shoulders!”

And so I prepared myself for the worst.

But what can I say other than G is a genius and a prophet in one?

Because she was right: Phil was adorable, with a warm, friendly face, a cute little body and the best personality on planet earth.

More than that, Phil seemed to like me, too.

As the three of us tucked into our delicious grilled fish, we couldn’t have enjoyed each other’s company more. Oh, how my boyfriend Phil and I bonded over Refuseniks and the show “Bored to Death” and my favorite topic: Jewish Peoplehood.

And because he was such a 21st century fox and I am the least subtle person, I made sure to mention my single status early and often, not that he picked up the bait. He merely nodded and we continued our conversation until I couldn’t wait anymore so when G excused herself to go to the bathroom, I asked if he had ever been married.

“No,” he said, “but I have a boyfriend.”

Do you know how in the movies when something dramatic happens everything stands still? Well, that is exactly what happened: The hubbub all around suddenly came to a screeching halt.

I wanted to cry.

How did I not pick up on this? I wondered. Me with my fine-tuned gaydar.

But G hadn’t picked up on it, either, and that was because he really did not seem gay, other than being lovely and curious and a good listener, which, one would hope, are qualities straight men could also possess.

I didn’t even have to break the news to G, though, because soon after she re-joined us at the table he asked about gay bars in Tel Aviv. I could hear her heart go kersplat.

When we said our goodbyes, Phil gave us each a nice, friendly squeeze. To G he said, “You said I would like Abigail and you were right!” And the next day, when they met to tour some more he said to her, “I knew I would love Abigail the minute I saw her!”

But that night, walking back to my apartment through the winding streets of Jerusalem, the air fragrant with lavender and honeysuckle, everything seemed full of sadness and promise at the same time.

“The only thing working against Phil is he likes to sleep with men,” said G.

“It’s a real loss for our team,” I added.

“But a gain for humanity!” said G.

All I knew was that G was welcome to pick my husband anytime. I just hoped that the next time around he’d also be straight. A gal can dream, can’t she?

Abigail Pickus’ Matchup column appears the first week of the month.

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