By Stephanie Lewis
Now that I’m engaged, it’s difficult making Jewish, compatible, couple friends. Jeff, my fiancé disagrees — because he’s never tried! I decide to take out an ad in L’CHAIM magazine, when my other half strolls in, noticing the headline. “Perfect Pair!” He asks if I really need more shoes. “I’m not looking for footwear,” I say. “Think again. What else could ‘pair’ indicate?” He looks me up and down, then confesses he’s finally gotten used to my figure, so there’s no need to remodel the ‘upstairs.’ Gee, thanks.
Me: Listen up! Not that kind of pair! I’m searching for a couple.
Fiancé: A couple of what?
Me: Shabbat candlesticks! What do you think??
Frustrated, I switch the subject, asking what he thinks a cute couple name for us can be, combining both Jeffrey and Stephanie? I offer up ‘Stephrey.’ Always needing to be first, he counters with ‘Jeffanie.’ He eventually agrees to my version IF we find a baseball-loving couple. I tell him not to count on it. I’m looking for a Jewish Scrabble playing couple to have electronics-free Shabbats with.
Fast forward to Friday night — our first meeting with Couple Number One, a pair from my ad. I hold a freshly baked challah when the wife answers the door, introducing herself as Ruth. With the television blasting in the background, her husband yells, “Who’s on our porch, Babe?”
“Babe? Ruth?” My fiancé’s ears perk up. Five minutes later the men are ensconced in Barcalongers, yelling at the baseball game. Ruth and I play Scrabble alone in her kitchen. I form the word, ‘failure’ – seven letters and worth bonus points. So much for an unplugged couple’s Shabbat. I compose a new ad, specifically asking for active, outdoorsy people. A nice Shabbat walk will be a wonderful change of pace. My heart sinks as Couple Number Two answers their door, holding anniversary balloons with the number ‘61’ on them.
Me: Wow! A nice, long marriage. But I’m positive you emailed, ‘Married for 16 years?’
Wife: That would be Howard typing that. He has dyslexia. I just need new reading glasses.
Me: Oh. So, which one of you loves to surf?
Wife: That would be Howard again. He surfs the web. I just wanted him to appear active.
Fiancé: Oh. So, which one of you is Howard??
Me: (Elbowing fiancé roughly) He means, which one of you bowls?
Wife: We both put our ice-cream in bowls, right Chunky Monkey?
Howard: That’s right, Rocky Road!
Oy! I console myself that at least there’s no electronics on in their home. But when we set up Scrabble, they simultaneously yawn, drop their dentures in a glass, announcing, “Bedtime!” Finding the right couple is trickier than I thought. Fresh idea! A more explicit ad! This time I specify a new Rabbi and his wife (‘New’ will likely mean younger.) who’ll teach us to honor Shabbat. (This eliminates electronics.) On Saturday morning, I’m pleasantly surprised to hear davening as we enter their home. How nice! We’ll meet several Jewish couples to interact with! My excitement is short-lived when I’m directed to sit on the women’s side and my fiancé is whisked off somewhere I can’t see, because of a tall divider. So much for couples Shabbos.
I guess you can’t plan this stuff in advance. It must happen organically, more impromptu, if you will. So, I wait for Purim to arrive, then drag my fiancé to a costumed festival where we spot two couples sitting together. The men wear Mordecai masks, the women of course, disguised as Queen Esthers. I introduce us as a fun couple named “Stephrey!” But when I spontaneously pull out Scrabble, I sense something very familiar as their masks come off. It’s none other than the Babe Ruth couple and Mr. and Mrs. Dentures. Howard makes the first word of the game — Mashuga. “Bonus points!” Ruth shrieks, as the orthodox Rabbi comes around the corner to separate the men from the women. Perfect.