The first bit of wedding drama we’ve encountered since establishing a formal excuse to throw a big party has centered around – surprise! – our choice of rabbi.
(I know…if my attempt to convince someone to perform a freaking mitzvah attracts this much conflict, imagine what a disaster all those pesky secular tasks – flowers and photography and, god forbid, the dress – are shaping up to be.)
Anyway, the debacle went something like this: My parents belong to a conservative temple in my hometown, just a half hour away from the spot we’re in the process of snagging for our big day. But the rabbi there a-won’t conduct a ceremony before 9:30 p.m. on a Saturday, which presents a host of logistical issues and b-how to say this….at the risk of being struck by lightning, let’s just go with “he doesn’t share my values.”
Fortunately, my values clearly allow for going behind people’s backs, so that’s exactly what my mom and I decided to do: completely bypass Super Conservative Rabbi A and go directly to Totally Lax Reform Rabbi B, he of the other big synagogue in our town, he who is rumored to start ceremonies at the ungodly (like, actually) hour of 6:30 p.m. – even during the holiest period of the year! (Which, as a bonus, our date of choice happens to fall squarely into. Just to make sure our spot in hell was noted in ink, not pencil.)
Everything seemed to be proceeding according to plan – Rabbi B didn’t seem to care what time the sun went down, barely seemed to know what the Counting of the Omer was, was very receptive to the fact that I would be wedding a Jewish doctor. But everything in wedding planning seems to have a catch, and this was Rabbi B’s: he didn’t want to piss off Rabbi A. They had a good working relationship, he said, and he didn’t want to look like he was poaching Rabbi A’s members just because he was willing to overlook the fact that we were serving prosciutto during the cocktail hour. Would we please call Rabbi A and make sure that he was cool with this little plan of ours?
My response, of course, was: why in the hell would I ever do that?
Incredulous, I immediately called my mother, launching into a lengthy monologue. I’m not into confrontation, I implored her, especially when it comes to esteemed, elderly members of my faith. Who knows how close that guy is with god? Why would I want to fuck around with that, openly? I just wanted to tip-toe quietly behind his back, not directly disrespect him. And it’s not like I’m one to shove something in someone else’s face.
Really? my mother asked. What about all those calls you just made to your ex-boyfriend?
Oh, right. That.
It’s…totally true. In the wake of my engagement, I coincidentally reached out to my ex-boyfriend. Twice. (Maybe his email was broken! Had to try the cell to make sure!)
Yes, we do catch up every so often, but the timing certainly wasn’t random. I had been waiting months, maybe even years, for this day – the day I could firmly, with proof, inform the Ex that I’d met the love of my life and – shocker! – he wasn’t an insensitive Cornell grad with an i-banking job.
It wasn’t just that I wanted to make sure the Ex knew I was engaged – surely I could leave that simple task to Facebook. No, I wanted to personally and fully inform him of my good fortune, of my victory, of my assured life-long happiness. I hadn’t established how, exactly, I’d hoped he would react, but I think I supposed said reaction would make me feel good and right and satisfied.
So I emailed. And called. And waited.
In the end, my dad, who has little interest in the back-and-forth of personal politics, volunteered to call Rabbi A and explain the situation to him. There was a little sugar-coating of course – Rabbi B is a personal acquaintance, he said, Rachel and David seem to be on the reform track – but my dad told the truth, plainly and clearly: They want someone else. And Rabbi A was perhaps a little hurt, but, on the surface, gracious and understanding and willing to give us his blessing. And that was that.
And the ex? Well, I never did reach him. There’s always a chance that the entire city of New York has had all of its modes of communication shut down for the past month, and that Goldman Sachs is running in the dark, but I’d say the safer assumption is he’s just ignoring my calls and emails. Which is ok, really. Because the truth is, I wasn’t looking for anything admirable or pure or positive – like perhaps closure or a simple congratulations – from that imagined encounter. I was, as my mother suggested, simply looking to shove it in his face. And for what? For a formal declaration that I’d “won” whatever little competition I’d invented in my head? How silly, how immature.
After all, I don’t need a phone call to tell me that.