Awkward Encounters in Abigael’s

There are several reasons why I avoid midtown Manhattan. First, I loathe crowds. And regardless of time of day or year, there are perpetual mounds of people to contend with. Second, a bombardment of life size billboards throws me into spasmodic shock. As you might guess, I’m not too good with overstimulation. And third, I always manage to bump into someone I know but am not particularly fond of schmoozing it up with.

Last night, at my father’s behest, I made a reservation at the classiest kosher restaurant in town– sadly situated between Herald Square and Time Square. Though far from thrilled with the restaurant’s location, I promised myself that a delicious grilled portobello and palm salad would make the trek well worth my schlep. But as a wise Yiddish proverb proclaims, “Man plans and G-d laughs.”

Upon entering the restaurant, I encountered two former classmates, their husbands, and what I suspect were their pregnant bellies. After exchanging pleasantries, the conversation went silent. And I, a person who prides herself on her ability to schmooze up anyone about anything, became a momentary mute.

I could have asked what they were occupying their time with, but I knew the answer: married life.  Similarly, they could have asked me about my day to day life; however, the answer was obvious: anything but married life. And so we stood awkwardly next to each other wondering what had transpired over the four and a half years since we had occupied the same classroom.

Then one of my former colleagues broke the silence. “You know, Yaffa, I still think you’re going to be president someday.” The other future mother quickly confirmed that she too held the same belief. And despite my denial of political aspirations, they pressed further. “You’re the girl who leaves the [highly glamorized Jewish] ghetto and makes a difference in the real world.”

In that moment my heart smiled. Instead of the usual why-are-you-single-you-old-geezer schpiel, my high school friends acknowledged that perhaps there was more to life than procreation. If not for then, than for me. And that not every Orthodox Jewish girl is on the same biological timeline.

Not wanting to ruin the moment, I thanked them for their kind words and reassured them that according to my horoscope 2012 would be the year I found professional and romantic stability. I then departed for my father’s table, slightly less peeved about my midtown schlep, but still unwilling to make a weekly habit of it. True love– in Yaffa terms– means meeting below 14th Street for all culinary related encounters.



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