I walked outside and it was pouring cold rain. My sneakers from the West Coast, white, clean and virginal, were no match for the harsh New York City downpour, and within minutes of my first step from the safety of my home, my shoes were stained and my mismatched socks were soaking wet. A car honked. An old man in a yarmulke almost fell over from the force of the wind. A black girl screamed motherfucker. A broken umbrella sat on the curb, discarded like a drunken one night stand. There was a cacophony of voices and alarms and traffic, like a symphony orchestra from a mental ward. A woman wearing a burka and a raincoat stood outside the new bank, like a statue. Only her eyes were visible, but they told an unhappy story. Water fell down, steam floated up, thunder cracked, the subway rumbled. It was as God above and the Devil below were having a fist fight and New York was frightfully and violently alive from the energy, like a living breathing animal. All I could think about was entering the Colombian Diner and ordering a strong cup of their darkest coffee, then taking the tall, skinny waitress on the table, and fucking her hard, not caring about the other customers or the cheap coffee mug crashing to the floor, breaking into fine pieces. And she would love it. And then I would cry — a cry of happy and sad. But of course, this was in my mind. This was not real. To actualize my thoughts, I would need to follow my ancestors, so I prayed to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, asking Him for a full life. Why couldn’t every day be as powerful, as full of mystery and passion, as today? The rain stopped and He replied. He said Yes. Yes, yes, yes! BUT — he warned, and I knew there was going to be a “but”– BUT, he said, I would be forever blind to the magic and power of the world around me unless I showed him a sign, made a covenant with Him, to appreciate all that He has given me. And that is when I deleted Twitter and Facebook from my iPhone. I placed my phone in my coat pocket, pulled the zipper closed, and continued on, my five senses at my side.
To understand the following story better, I need to break the #1 rule of any good comedic story — I have to ruin the punchline right from the beginning.
I know two Amys. Well… I know MORE than two Amys. Half of my online acquaintances are either Heather or Amy. But for the purpose of this story, I know two Amys.
Amy is the writer of Doobleh-vay. I had a lot of fun with her in Chicago during BlogHer. She lives in Columbus.
The other Amy is a blogging friend I have had since 2005. She is the only blogger I know who has both slept in my apartment and met my mother! She lives in Philadelphia.
Let’s call them Amy Columbus (the one from BlogHer) and Amy Philadelphia (the one who met my mother).
Amy Columbus is not Jewish. Amy Philadelphia is Jewish. This fact is essential to the plot.
Oh, yeah, a few weeks ago, when Amy Philadelphia gave me her mobile number, I made a mistake and inserted it into the wrong contact, that of Amy Columbus.
Last night, unaware of this fact, I received a text message last night from “Amy Columbus” (when in reality, it was “Amy Philadelphia”), but the iPhone is rather stupid when you give it the wrong instructions, like putting the wrong phone number with the wrong person. Since my iPhone said that this message was from Amy Columbus, I assumed it was from Amy Columbus. Would an Apple product ever lie?
Amy: “Hey, Neil, I’ll be in New York on October 11. I’m going to this big Succoth party.”
It was cool to hear from Amy Columbus, but I was surprised that she was going to a party for Succoth, a Jewish Fall festival holiday. I’m not saying that every time a member of an ethnic or religious group meet each other there is a secret handshake, but I spent a good amount of time with her at BlogHer, and she never once mentioned that she was Jewish. Not that it was important for her to tell me. It just seemed odd that there wasn’t a misplaced Yiddish word or even an “Oy.” Perhaps — she is not Jewish, or half-Jewish, and just going with a friend to a Succoth party. Or a convert.
I texted her back.
Neil: “Cool. I hope I get to see you when you are in town. Are you Jewish?”
Amy: “Of course I’m Jewish.”
Of course she’s Jewish? Was I supposed to just KNOW that? Now, remember — I still have no clue that this is Amy Philadelphia texting me, who I know is Jewish.
Neil: “I didn’t know that you were Jewish. Why didn’t you ever tell me?”
Amy: “Dude, when people look at me there is a like a sign pointing at me saying, “I am Jewish.””
Huh? Now I know plenty of people — and you cannot tell a person’s religion or even color from looking at them. Sometimes you can, but not always. Amy Columbus could be Jewish, but with her blonde hair and blue eyes, she looked more like the granddaughter of Norwegian farmers. Talking about religion and stereotypes is an iffy topic, but I felt comfortable enough with Amy to further the discussion.
Neil: “Really? I had no idea. You don’t particularly look Jewish. Or not Jewish.”
Amy: “I’m as Jewish as they come. I think you’ve spend so much time hitting on the non-Jewish mommybloggers, that you forget what a Jewish girl looks like. We talked about going to temple once, remember?”
We did? I did not remember talking about this with Amy Columbus AT ALL. But I wasn’t going to tell her that. I am experienced enough as a man to know that women get angry with you if you don’t LISTEN to them, and I certainly wasn’t going to tell Amy Columbus that I was having a complete blank about having this conversation. Going to temple with Amy Columbus? At BlogHer, we mostly talked about going to some bar and drinking margaritas. Maybe we were both drunk that night, and the conversation became all spiritual and religious, like “Let’s go to temple right now and talk to God!” And then we passed out.
So, I did what any man does in a situation with a woman where he doesn’t remember the conversation. He lies.
Neil: “Oh, yeah, yeah. I remember us talking about temple.”
It was definitely time to wrap up this conversation.
Neil: “Speak to you later. Gotta go!”
After that last exchange, I sat by my laptop for a few minutes, staring at the wall. Something was really WEIRD about that conversation with Amy Columbus. It was as if we talking past each other and not connecting. I don’t text message very often, so maybe I wasn’t doing it correctly. I became worried that I insulted Amy, even questioning her religious faith!
I decided to use a platform that I was more comfortable for my online conversations — email. I composed an email and sent it to Amy Columbus.
Neil: “Hey, Amy. Nice talking to you. Can’t wait to see you in New York.”
And then, just to make sure that I acknowledged her as a fellow member of the Jewish faith, I wished her a Happy New Year.
Neil: “And Shana Tovah to you and your family!”
Are you following the story so far? I had texted back and forth with the Jewish Amy Philadelphia the entire time, thinking it was Amy Columbus, and then I emailed Amy Columbus a New Year’s greeting, and she was going to get this email in her inbox, completely unaware of anything.
This morning, I received a email back from Amy Columbus.
Amy: “Hey, darling (which in itself is a very non-Jewish expression), were you trying to reach me last night? And WHAT were you TALKING ABOUT?!
Neil: “I figured out how to put photos in the contacts into the iphone. There is an app that transfers all the photos from Facebook.”
Neil: “Now if you ever call me on the phone, your face will fill the screen and I’ll know not to avoid the call, like I sometimes do when my mother calls.”
Mommyblogger: “Aww, I bet you take all of your mother’s calls.”
Neil: “I want to add your number. What’s your number?”
Mommyblogger: “What do you want my number for?”
Neil: “I can call you some time. Free minutes after nine!”
Mommyblogger: “I’m not sure my husband would want you to call me.”
Neil: “Are you serious? I IM with you all the time!”
Mommyblogger: “That’s different. IM-ing and email are not real. Calling on the phone is real.”