Wednesday, August 25, 2004

In which we prove that even Puritans can catch Jerusalem Syndrome

When Susan came to visit me from America a few weeks ago, she mentioned, toward the end of her stay with me, that she was glad to see that my move to Israel hadn’t changed me. That I’m still the same person. That I still have the same eccentric hobbies, the same unusual interests, the same sense of humor. I’m still good ol’ Sarah, just in a different geographical location. I think she’d been worried that moving to Jerusalem would cause me to “flip out” in some way.

Well, this week I did something that makes me wonder.

Recently I met a guy who is single, around my age, and Orthodox. He’s also a hippie. Total, Zohar-learning, Carlebach, souls-on-fire, coat-of-many-colors, payot-to-the-shoulders, baal teshuva, dance-with-your-eyes-closed-and-arms-waving-overhead, let-the-love-shine-in Orthodox Jewish hippie. Sooooo not my type. The first second I saw him and his payot I thought “Eeeew. So not my type.”

Then I talked to him, and while we were talking I realized a few things:

1. Yes, he is indeed a living stereotype of the Orthodox Jewish hippie. Every stereotype you have of such a person, he lives up to.

2. He has very nice eyes. Eyes that look you in the eyes. Eyes with the little lines around them that indicate that he smiles a lot. Smiling is attractive.

3. He went to college and talks like a normal person. Meaning, his conversational skills are much more normal than his hair and his clothes. In fact, his conversational skills are better than most guys’. Good conversational skills are attractive.

4. He’s self-aware about his hippie-ness and when I laughed at him, he laughed too. Self-awareness is attractive.

5. He’s an interesting person with passion for the world and a genuine interest in other human beings. Too many guys I’ve dated can sit around for hours talking about intellectual stuff, but there’s no spark of life. Passion and a spark of life are attractive.

Anyhow, I wrote it off, because, you know, he’s a hippie freak. But then I went home and I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I pondered how unusual it is for the guys I usually meet and date to have good conversational skills and a spark of life . . . and a genuine sense of spirituality. I realized – some of my friends (hi, Beth) have pointed this out to me, but I never believed it – that a part of me is the souls-on-fire type, too. I’m not all Boston, Puritan, intellectual, Soloveitchik, velvet-suit-wearing, legal-analysis girl. Part of me likes to, uh, commune with the One-ness of the universe and stuff like that . . . God help me.

So this week, I did two things I thought I would never do. I called him to ask him out.

That one action constitutes two things because it is outrageous on two levels:

1. I haven’t asked out anyone in 6 years. I promised myself I’d never do that again, because a girl asking out a guy never works in the long run. It is a stupid idea.

2. If I was going to ask out someone, I can’t believe it was coat-of-many-colors guy.

It’s insanity. It’s impossible. I must have caught Jerusalem syndrome. I must be losing my mind.

Or maybe I am simply intrigued because he’s, well, exotic. Maybe I’m tired of the preppy lawyer types I’m usually attracted to, because they continuously let me down in so many ways. Maybe I’m figuring that if I keep doing what I’ve always done, I’ll keep getting what I always got.

Or maybe I’m flipping out, and Susan will be disappointed to see what has become of me the next time she comes over.

He said yes, by the way.

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