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by Stefi Sparer
There is a boy in my History of Cinema class who stares at me. Or maybe just my hair. I’m not sure if he’s actually gay or not. One thing for sure is though, I have great hair.
He sits diagonal to me and the thing that I like best about him is, if you look very quickly, he almost looks like a young Woody Allen. Its most endearing without being attractive in any way shape or form, which is odd really, considering how much I love Woody Allen. I just never knew I had absolutely no desire to date him.
I usually ignore the stares, choosing instead to give all my attention to the giant John Wayne (great ass) as the Ringo Kid on screen. Although dead, I believe I will get more out of John Wayne than a might be gay Woody doppelganger.
Sadly, these class periods are perhaps the most interesting thing that’s happened to me all semester, except for the few bad dates I’ve had, including one boy desperate to get me to convert to Christianity (or Catholicism?). But that is perhaps more scary than interesting.
My friend set me up with a kid named Chris back in December, claiming we’d get along perfectly. “You’re practically the same person,” she told me as she handed me his number. She had dated him previously in the year and after a badly misunderstood break-up via text message, the two had become great fake friends, proving to each other that they no longer felt romantic feelings by setting each other up with their most single of friends. “We’re really more like…I don’t know, cousins or something now,” my friend Katie explained.
“What about that whole “asshole should die for breaking up with me over a text message” thing?” I ask tentatively.
“Oh that?” she waves it off, “He was just having a bad day, and plus, I mean, I did sort of cheat on him.”
“Details,” I joke.
Chris was a former drug dealer ("...I can't believe I'm telling you this...I just feel like I can tell you anything...") with a new found love for Jesus. In fact, he believes he's actually in Jesus. "We are in Christ, therefore, we are saved,” he tells me over lunch, whatever that means, after I joke with him about his former drug sinning.
"I'm Jewish," I tell him.
"Like, how Orthadox?" he'd like to know.
"Please," I shake my head, "I'm not even Kosher. But I'm not a Jew for Jesus or anything. They are crazy!"
"What's so wrong with that?"' he wants to know, stirring Splenda into his iced tea, "Jesus died for your sins too after all."
Ah crap, we haven’t even ordered yet and we’re talking religion. Most people are married forty years before discussing religion. I debate getting angry or playing dumb.
I go for playing dumb because I’m so gosh-darn good at it.
"I don't know enough about religion," I say, dismissing it with my hand. That's a semi-lie. I know what I think is enough about religion. I mean, I’ve seen Superman Returns (I wish Jesus looked like that. If he did, I’d be his follower too) and I believe that having faith and spirituality is more important than knowing all the rules. I think you should know why you believe the things you believe, but I don't think hanging out in church and eating ‘Nilla Wafers and drinking juice makes you a better person than a Jew who might go to Temple on Passover (if they feel like it. I might be speaking from personal experiences.). Especially if they are so blind to what actually makes a person good, like, caring for family, your friends, um, not doing drugs, etcetera.
"You know, my dad is a pastor?" he says, "And I work at my church."
"Sometimes," I say, "I watch A Charlie Brown Christmas." To which he responds with a grimace.
"I’m just being honest," I say.
"It’s fine,” he shakes his head, but avoids eye contact. I know it's not, but I let it drop, choosing instead to talk about Flickr, which is my go-to topic when I'm uncomfortable or at a loss for words (this time, I was both). Every Tom, Dick, and Harry thinks they're a photographer, so this topic usually goes over well. The Flickr portion of our conversation ends and there's a pause, followed by a sigh on his part.
"OK, so, here's the problem."
"Yeah," he says, "OK, so the Jewish religion is based on facts and Christianity is based on grace."
He practically bursts then, continuing on for some time about Jesus, Peter, PaulandMary, and "Him" (which confused me because sometimes Him was "Christ" and sometimes Him was G-d? But "Christ" is G-d? From what I was trying to understand. He was confusing me, and I started spacing out and thinking about Colbert to be honest, and how I was missing him.) I suddenly felt like I had accidentally opened the door to a Bible's salesman.
"Well, in my religion we just eat a lot of bread..." I say trying to lighten what has turned into a very dark lunch, after, no joke, thirty minutes, "And, I'll be honest, but I understood maybe half of what you just said."
"Read the New Testament," he replies, "It'll help you figure things out."
Figure things out? What do I have to figure out? Plus, let’s break it down; sequels always suck as far as I'm concerned. Well, unless we're talking about Back to the Future II and III. But M:I:III? Why spoil a good thing? I think the Old Testament is just fine. You know, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Plus, oh hi! I'm Jewish. I'd like to know more about religion but, I'd like the over-view please. And I'd like to have it not shoved down my throat by the son of a preacher man (who, ironically, is the only one who could ever teach me)."I'll read up about it on Wikipedia," I say as a throw away sentence, hoping to shut him up so he can finish his pasta and I can leave.
"No! That won't help you like The Bible! That won't save you!"
"You should really read it."
"I will after I finish The Electric Cool-Aide Acid Test," I lie. I haven't even read The old Bible, why would I start with the new? Really now. Don't push your religion onto me. I don't go around with pamphlets telling you why you should convert to Judaism (for the food, mostly, if you’re thinking about it). In fact, when I made a "Well, we are The Chosen Ones” joke, it didn't even get a smile.
"I just- I- That won't help you. That's... that's not going to help," he stutters.
"I'm just being honest," I tell him.
"Me too!" he exclaims.
And after all of this? He wanted to see me again.
"When are you free next?" he asked before I got into my car. "Can I call you tomorrow? Or do you want to set something up now?"
Then he hugged me three times. Eh, at least I got a free lunch.