Month: January 2019

The Devorah-Yitzchak Story: Part 3-The Mighty Eggplant

eggplant

A matter of days had gone by, and our conversation on Facebook started up again. I had decided to switch the conversation over to WhatsApp. One of my favorite pastimes is listening to messages from and leaving audio messages for friends and family while taking various walks throughout the day, like to the gym or with my dog.

And I noticed a few things right away.

Breaking My Rules

First, I was breaking my own rules. Generally, I like to reserve my WhatsApp shenanigans for my walks, otherwise I’ll find myself incapable of doing anything else during my day. All day long I’d be staring at my silly phone, and it would be a disaster for me. I love finishing my work day and feeling like it’s only 3PM and still I’ve already done a million things with my day. If I become a phone zombie, that all goes out the window.

But something was different. I would always listen to Devorah’s messages right away. I would look forward to them and get excited when they came.

Full disclosure: I still look forward to them. And I still get excited whenever they come!

So what was going on in that silly little brain of mine? Hard to say for sure. I recall many years ago I had started dating someone. She lived a good deal away from me, so dating was terribly inconvenient. One day I was doing the classic Israel routine and trying to hitchhike home. Someone pulled up next to me and said he was going to the city where the girl lived. I thought about going there and surprising her… for a quick moment… and then entirely dismissed the idea. And that’s when I knew I wasn’t truly interested. That’s not the way my heart works. If I’m in, I’m all in.

So why was I breaking my rules? Could it be that I was drawn toward this lovely girl?

The Birth of the Mighty Eggplant

The second thing that became screamingly obvious was how much we had in common. Sometimes to an uncanny level.

The first and most memorable was when we were discussing food preferences. She had said something about liking pretty much all foods. At that moment I thought to myself that I was exactly the same way, with the exception of eggplant. Then the next words out of her mouth were, “Well, everything except for eggplant.”

To this day, whenever we find anything in common, we refer to them as “eggplants”. There have been countless eggplant examples, and who knows how many more of them there will be!?

My Pen!

Another favorite in the eggplant batch has a cute story that goes along with it (we were already dating by this point). Devorah has a handful of ex-boyfriends. I was having trouble keeping track of their names, and thought it would be easier if we were just to give everyone nicknames. She referred to one as “Pen Boy”. Well, at least that’s what I heard when she said it.

Apparently it was simply a reference to the fact that he had attended the University of Pennsylvania, and it was in fact “Penn Boy”. That didn’t stop me from devising my own little story of what that nickname could possibly mean. My confused little mind immediately pictured this fantastic video from ‘The Kids in the Hall’ I had seen many moons ago.

This led to Devorah somewhat shyly telling me that he she has a favorite type of pen, she prefers to never use any other type, and she’s been using it since High School. Some folk in the world might find that odd… unless they also have a favorite type of pen, pretty much hate using any other kind, and have been doing so since Middle School!

Eggplant!

Since the beginning of our amazing relationship, we have been discovering wonderful things about one another. And it all started with a long series of WhatsApp messages. Multiple times throughout this epic message-based friendship we were forming we felt like the person on the other side of the phone was echoing thoughts we have expressed many times before. It was uncanny. And it only seemed to get stronger with each message.

Would You Like to “Hang Out”?

And finally I had enough courage to ask Devorah if she would like to “hang out”. My children were about to leave the country for a couple of months, so I wanted to maximize my time with them before they left, but I asked if this “hang out” could happen after they were gone.

She enthusiastically agreed.

And thus we have Devorah and Yitzchak, finally about to spend some quality time together. And neither knowing whether or not this was actually going to be a date. Fear of rejection caused me to phrase things in an extremely non-committal manner. And it wasn’t until we actually brought up the topic that we discovered that we were in fact on a date, and it was 100% what we both wanted.

First Date

Well over a month of participating in some sort of twisted dance, and there we were. On our first date. And it was in fact a date! All parties agreed. A pleasant walk, a tasty dinner, and hours of conversation. Our first date lasted around nine hours!

Something tremendous had begun. Something life changing.

In an instant I knew that a part of me that had been hiding for quite some time was reawakened with a vengeance.

Did I know that in just a just a matter of months I would be engaged to this amazing person?

Honestly, a part of me probably did.

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Posted by jaffeworld in personal story, 0 comments

The Devorah-Yitzchak Story: Part 2, Are We There Yet?

Devorah

And thus began a process that would ultimately last about a month.

Facebook Fatal Flaw

The first step involves a fatal flaw in my world of Facebook. I come from an interesting generation of secular Jewish folk who are given both Hebrew and English names, and those names are entirely disconnected from one another. Furthermore, the names have proper and simple translations into the other language. It’s just never used.

So I grew up using my English name, David; but upon moving to Israel, I switched to my Hebrew name, Yitzchak. And I live my life in two distinct worlds, with different people calling me by each of the names. In my Facebook world, I used my English name. However, that game-changing Friday night I had introduced myself as Yitzchak.

And poor Devorah had tried to track me down, only to conclude that I must be one of those peculiar non-Facebook users.

Devorah the Trooper

But alas, Devorah is quite the trooper and was most certainly not ready to give up. She gave in and called a mutual friend who had been at the same meal, who informed her that my name was certainly not Yitzchak but was in fact David. Confused but determined, she found me, reached out to me, and started up the conversation.

Now, over here in Jaffe World I had received a Facebook friend request, and a lot of interesting thoughts crossed my mind. At the first meal together, Devorah had spoken a lot about a play she was going to be in, to which I expressed interest. I didn’t even know English-speaking theater existed in Jerusalem! It was quite a fun and exciting discovery! And when Devorah reached out to me, she reminded me all about this interesting play of hers. And thus I was now launched into the first of many little inner battles that resulted in my inaction.

My Inner Battle

Hmm, why is she reaching out to me? Is she expressing interest? Who sends someone a friend request out of the blue and continues an old conversation unless they’re interested in you?

But alas, my “logic” and battered self esteem got the better of me. And I simply assumed at best she was just being friendly. At worst, she was just aggressively trying to sell me on buying tickets to her show. Sadly, I let the latter thoughts get the best of me. Devorah hoped I would come to the show, I would be supremely impressed with her performance, and I would greet her at the end, and hopefully start the ball rolling.

But I didn’t go (pause here for groans…). I found my excuses not to. And I let me fears and psychological nuisances get the better of me. Our story had only progressed insofar as we were now connected on Facebook. But absolutely no farther. Things would need to be shaken up before anything new could happen.

And shaken up… they were not…

Same Place… Not Quite the Same Time

Devorah used Facebook magic a few times to engineer being in the same place at the same time, which failed repeatedly. This included going to an event I was planning to attend. It was well played, since I didn’t only go once. I went twice!

Yes, I was there and left before she arrived, and visited again later in the afternoon… after she was long gone.

Frustration was setting in for Devorah, while I just went about my days oblivious to all of this.

More Drastic Measures

But the time had come to take more drastic measures. She was spending Shabbat in Jerusalem house-sitting for her sister, and she had invited a nice group of friends over for Shabbat lunch. Very sweetly she invited me to join as well. Unfortunately, it was very late in the week and I already had plans. I, of course, am forever a gentleman and reversed the invitation. I invited Devorah for Shabbat dinner… and she already had plans.

We would have been at yet another standstill if Devorah was a different kind of person. But she was a soldier on a mission, and not really a fan of giving up. The lunch crew was going to stick around for the afternoon and play games, and she invited me to join the party.

And it would appear that for the first time since our initial meeting, the stars might be lining up again. At least to some extent.

Except the same ignorant thoughts kept shooting through my mind: Is she flirting with me? That would be nice… but I certainly doubt it. Why in the world would she be doing that!?

So I went with an open mind, but my attitude would certainly be reflected in many of the things I would say throughout the evening.

Alone At Last?

Oh, but what a story! We all sat and played games for hours. Folk kept on trickling out as it got later and later. Devorah hoped this could lead to our first time alone together ever. And it looked like things were moving in the right direction. For the next several hours we got to talk, just me, her… and one other friend who stayed the entire time as well.

It was a lovely conversation. I learned all about the world of Jerusalem community theater. I had said such retroactively marvelous gems, such as telling my future spouse that I would be more than happy remaining single indefinitely. And that’s how everything went until quite late. Shabbat was over and it was time for me and the other lingering guest to part ways. We both got up to leave, and we all made it into the lobby. Other Guest made it further than I did. I chatted a bit more with Devorah in the apartment doorway, while the other fella stood in the building’s doorway, impatiently waiting for us to both leave.

And after about 20 minutes, he left. By himself.

And Devorah and I stood in her doorway and had a lovely, animated conversation for another hour.

It was our first. In a sense, it was the beginning of a lovely friendship that would become so much more.

We weren’t there yet. But we were inching so much closer.

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Posted by jaffeworld in personal story, 2 comments

The Devorah-Yitzchak Story: Part 1-Beginnings?

Devorah

I was done dating. I hadn’t in over a year, and over the course of that time I had not missed it at all. In fact, it helped me. I felt stronger and more confident. Like a burden and an expectation had been lifted from my life.

Man Plans…

My plans were all set for the long holiday weekend. I was hosting a bunch of international guests on Friday night, and I’d be dining at friends’ homes for the other three meals. I received several invitations for the Friday night meal, all of which I had proudly turned down. For I was hosting on behalf of Shabbat of a Lifetime, and nothing was getting in the way of that!

Well, nothing except the unpredictable tourist industry. After copious amounts of planning and several invitations turned away (none of which I remembered), my group cancelled, and I was left high and dry for Friday night.

I was extremely disappointed and a bit ticked off. But once I got over all of that, I called a friend who I was quite certain would be happy to have me over for Friday night, even though I was already going there for a meal the next day. And sure enough, now I was all set to eat at Tania’s.

Elsewhere in Israel

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Israel things were happening in the stars. Some grand manipulator of circumstances was playing games with the universe.

And a lovely and talented young lady had also accepted an invitation to join Tania for that same Friday night meal.

But there’s so much more to her story!

The Dress

Devorah had thought about marriage once or twice over the years. And five years earlier she was so sure her time had come, she had even gone so far as to purchase the dress she planned to wear at her own engagement party. Sadly, this beautiful dress had been sitting in her closet collecting dust for all these years.

But the time had come to take control. The time had come to no longer be the kind of person who looks at a dress in a closet. And the time had come to let go.

Devorah decided to wear her engagement-party dress that weekend. For the first time ever.

As Fate Would Have It

A series of events would lead to Devorah and me to the same meal, that wonderful fateful day. I still remember thinking to myself that I hope I sit next to “that girl”.

And sure enough, there we were. Decades of waiting for an easy break in the world of relationships, and finally two people who would later connect on levels I’ve never imagined possible, were sitting side-by-side at a Friday night dinner in Jerusalem.

But this isn’t Hollywood, ladies and gentlemen. There wasn’t romantic music playing in the background as we rapidly discovered one another. There was no magical love-at-first sight moment. I didn’t sweep her off her feet. If anything, I just found myself sitting beside an extremely interesting, very attractive girl… who in my mind could never possibly feel anything remotely similar about me.

Problem #1

You see, I’ve got two problems at hand here. Number one, I’m a guy. We’re not the brightest of genders. Not always in tune with ourselves or the situation at hand. And even though Devorah had already starting catching on that there was more than meets the eye, I was stupidly oblivious. I’ve often quipped that women should walk around with two sets of cards in their pockets: One type that says ‘interested’ and one that says ‘not interested’. At the most opportune moment, she should hand the guy in question the appropriate card, and leave no room for confusion.

Instead, we guys will wander through life clueless, rarely knowing the difference between chatting and flirting. Often asking out people who will turn us down. And more often, never finding the courage to ask out those who would gladly be with us.

Problem #2

The second problem: I’m me. I’ve been through what I’ve been through, and it’s taken its toll. So even if I did catch on that I had caught someone’s attention, I would have argued it out of existence. I would have figured out a way to say to myself that what I thought was happening was pure speculation, and naive speculation at best.

We’ll come back to that later. Repeatedly.

But for now, back to the Shabbat table. Devorah had long figured out that there was something in the air between us… and watched amusedly as I scarfed down three servings of the amazing fruit salad she had brought. She came up with a plan for how we could spend a bit more time getting to know one another, but that would be the first of many foiled attempts.

Woman Plans…

We had a mutual friend at the table who always offers to walk her home. But that friend had grown tired, and Devorah stalled long enough that he was forced to trot on home by himself. In a matter of moments, we would be able to leave together, and get to know each other one-on-one. But it wasn’t our time just yet. And before that could happen, some other friends came over to visit. We all chatted together for a while… and we all left together. We didn’t get to speak at all. And the magical beginning of a relationship would not start that day.

I went home. Devorah went home.

Devorah woke up the next morning knowing something was drastically different in her life.

And oblivious ole Yitzchak woke up the next morning, drank his coffee, walked his dog, and went about his day as if nothing at all had happened.

Our story had yet to begin.

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Posted by jaffeworld in personal story, 1 comment

Adventure in Brussels

Brussels

I’m not much of a traveler. The process torments me and I have a general aversion to being the classic annoying tourist wherever I go. However, I recently had a lovely opportunity to explore Brussels, Belgium, and I wanted to give my review of this cute little city. Hopefully as the years progress, I’ll have many more opportunities to review many more cities in this crazy, beautiful world we live in.

Brussels is Clean and Smells Great

The first thing I noticed about Brussels was the ease of getting around. The trains were fast and pleasant and very centrally located. I felt getting from the airport and back, as well as storing your belongings, were both simple and convenient enough to truly benefit from a long layover with ease.

Next I noticed that the city was very clean. Whereas there was a fair amount of graffiti in the downtown area, there was almost no litter anywhere, which I appreciated. The city smells amazing! Everywhere you walk smells like chocolate and fresh waffles.

Brussels Keeps the Christmas Spirit Alive

It was already two days after Christmas, and I still felt the holiday spirit coursing through Brussel’s veins. I was in Target in Staten Island the day before, and it felt like they couldn’t wait to move on to the next holiday. Modern music was playing on the radio. All Christmas remnants were being systematically dismantled. America had overdone it once again, and was ready to move on. But the Christmas spirit was alive and well in Brussels!

The atmosphere and architecture in Brussels were lovely. The main area everyone recommended going to was called the Grand Place (sounds nicer in French), which was just a cute little centrally-located square with large and attractive buildings. From Grand Place it was quite easy to walk to all sorts of interesting city attractions.

Groping Statue

Right off the side of the square was some statue in the wall that everyone seemed to be approaching and groping for no particular reason. Sadly, I wasn’t able to find an explanation before I left. Although I did speculate that it was part of some elaborate practical joke whereby some folk went up and started petting this statue, causing others to do the same. And 15 years later they’ve been able to keep the ruse going. If so, kudos! I for one am quite impressed.

Pissing Boy

Far more important of a statue is one of a small boy urinating. I found a list of must-see sites in Brussels before we went, and when I saw this I thought two things: 1) I need to see this. 2) This must be some sort of humorous list, dedicated to silly things you can do in Brussels.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Apparently our friend the pissing boy is a fundamental part of the Brussels scenery (see the picture above). There were endless paraphernalia dedicated to this li’l guy and loads of tourists standing around taking pictures. We even stepped into a museum about sculptures and they must have had over thirty different post cards dedicated just to this statue.

Interestingly enough, the sculpture itself was actually a bit disappointing. It was really small, so small that when I went into a store and asked if they knew where the statue was, it turned out we were just a matter of feet away and didn’t even notice it.

Museums in Brussels

I got to go to two museums while in Brussels: The Chocolate Museum and the Magritte Museum.

The Chocolate Museum began with a fantastic demonstration. A woman gracefully and quickly showed the process of creating praline-filled chocolates. It was magical and really fun to watch. And it was quite impressive that she gave her presentation in English, German, and French.

The rest of the museum was very mediocre. Some charts and objects teaching about the history of chocolate. Fun to look at. A lot of reading for an exhausted traveler.

The Magritte Museum was fantastic. It included countless original paintings from Magritte and his contemporaries. Many were incredible. I especially enjoyed that there was an original Salvador Dali, my favorite artist. Magritte is quite the enjoyable artist, and the gift shop was a reflection of how engaging and entertaining his art is. Sadly the museum lacked some of his most famous works, but all in all it was engaging from start to finish.

Shopping in Brussels

Brussels is a fun city for shopping. There were great stores everywhere we turned, and different markets. We especially enjoyed a trip to a costume shop. The customer service left a bit to be desired (but I was returning to Israel, so it was probably best to start getting back in the groove), but the store itself was loads of fun.

The worst parts about this city were the coffee, and the culinary experience for the kosher consumer. I had two cups of coffee in Brussels, and they were both awful. I’m not ready to condemn the city and recommend no one ever step foot in such a horrendous place that can’t even dazzle my tastebuds with coffee delight. But I’d only give a few more tries before I’d be willing to say Brussels is a city where you should stick with Diet Coke to get your caffeine fix.

Unfortunately, Brussels is most certainly a city that tantalizes with its amazing aromas. So if you maintain a strict kosher diet, you might find yourself wandering around drooling at every corner, but never truly getting the benefit of the best part of the city.

Brussels Summary

In short, Brussels is a clean, relaxed city that smells amazing. There are a few good museums, some nice shopping areas, lovely sites to gaze upon, likely crappy coffee, and more important than anything else, a urinating statue. If for whatever reason, you can’t partake of the many food opportunities in Brussels, in might be worth looking for other cities to check out. But all in all, I had a lovely time and might even visit again.

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Posted by jaffeworld in travel, 0 comments