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Saturday, July 28, 2007


by Jeremy Deutchman

My friend, Bren, drank way too much cola. She slurped through the morning and night. It’s a kind of addiction, this cola. But for Bren it made everything right.

What could have been wrong with my friend, Bren? Why did she need nurture and care? How could she heal, my friend, Bren? And what gave her such a big scare?

Her stories of love lost were legion. Her medical woes stacked up high. It’s not like she had lots of money. And then there’s the thing with the guy.

They met at a dive bar called Shooters. Threw darts, talked a lot, shot some pool. And then Bren became slightly daring. She asked him to call her at school.

My friend, Bren, taught first graders music. The trumpet; the oboe; the flute. The sound, over time, made your ears hurt. But Bren found it funny; a hoot.

And sometimes she’d find someone gifted. A boy or a girl with a flair. With a smile stretched real big and a toss of her head, she’d say, “Honey, you’re good; something’s there.”

This one student named Bram bowled her over. His talent just jumped off the page. From the moment she met him, Bren told him: “You could play with kids two times your age.”

My friend, Bren, gave him extra attention. Private lessons at lunch and the like. Bram played ‘til his fingers would stiffen. He was one quite determined young tyke.

There were times when his discipline wavered. When he wanted to splash in the rain. And play soccer, use crayons, eat pizza. Build sandcastles with his friend Jane.

But Bren made him feel inspiration. Helped him strive for the best he could be. Made him know he could turn into someone. The practice was merely the fee.

So this one day at lunchtime they practiced. Little Bram blowing hard on his horn. As he struggled through show tunes, Bren wondered: Why on earth did she feel so forlorn?

She was artsy and not unattractive. Her work was fulfilling and good. She had parents and siblings who loved her. They thought she was great, as they should.

But she always felt something was missing. A joie de vivre she just never had. She had jumped from a plane, been out clubbing in Spain, but still she was empty and sad.

With this guy at the bar, it was different. It was brief, but their time had been nice. They had talked and laughed and shared stories. She felt cozy and snug with this Bryce.

As Bram played my friend Bren recalled this. And wondered if it was a fluke. Had their connection been fleeting, a moment? Her face fell; a silent rebuke.

And suddenly there was this feeling. A quaking right down near her knees. Was she hungry and hypoglycemic? Or was something just jangling her keys?

Her cell phone was ringing, on vibrate. She fumbled as Bram played “Brigadoon.” “Hello?” she said, timid and careful. And the voice that she heard made her swoon.

“Well, hi there,” said Bryce, smooth and dreamy. “Been thinking we might grab a meal.” They’d meet at a restaurant that evening. “It’s a date,” said our Bren, “it’s a deal.”

Her black shirt hugged all the right places. Some turquoise stones gleamed in her ears. Her skin glowed from pumice and loofa. She’d scrubbed clean her doubts and her fears.

The magic was still there between them. Conversation flowed easy as wine. Bren spoke of her fibromyalgia. Bryce told her he thought she looked fine.

They went back to her place quite giddy. Bren put on some coffee and jazz. They looked through some old family photos. Bren laughed; she had been quite the spazz.

Their hands touched, and then they were kissing. First tender and gentle and long. And then Bryce stopped, yanking his shirt off. His muscles were well formed and strong.

The tattoo on his chest might have warned her. The big cross should have helped her prepare. But she paid it no mind and moved downward. And his foreskin was – gasp! – still right there.

There are moments that clearly define us. Tell us what we believe, who we are. My friend Bren chose that moment and bolted. Made a beeline for her hybrid car.

Later on she returned, trepidatious. He had gone, left a note, saying “Hey.” “Just don’t know what went wrong, or what I did. But I sure hope you’re feeling okay.”

My friend, Bren, wasn’t overly Jewish. Didn’t wear her beliefs on her sleeve. Couldn’t read from the five books of Moses. Wouldn’t know to sit shiva and grieve.

Still some things she found to be sacred. Like blintzes and bagels with lox. Ending up with a tribesman was crucial. It didn’t matter that Bryce was a fox.

But the next day he texted her handheld. “Had fun; I M so hot 4 u.” And Bren, against all better judgment – Wrote, “Let’s make it soon; I M, too.”

So started their dating, their romance. Nice dinners, the movies, the park. And then there was life in the bedroom. Their coupling all passion and spark.

Bren’s parents had started to worry. Their daughter was wild for the boy. Her future was so full of promise. Would she throw it away on some goy?

And Bren was completely conflicted. Love grew like some beautiful fleur. But she still felt the tug of tradition. Wanted children who knew Yom Kippur.

Could the two coexist, asked my friend, Bren? Faith in God and the love of a man? Were these questions she’d know how to answer? Was it all part of some divine plan?

She struggled with how to move forward. Decided to make her best guess. And when her guy Bryce popped the question – She knew that her answer was “yes.”

Their wedding was done by a rabbi. Then a homily from Bryce’s priest. “Two bodies alone are like matzo. And now you’ve discovered the yeast.”

The party was joyous and soulful. Little Bram did a hora that killed. The unity candle burned brightly. The cola was bubbly and chilled.

Friends toasted the shining young couple. To a love that would surely endure. Bren threw her bouquet and her garter. Their future seemed set and secure.

It’s not that they never had problems. There were so many things to work out. Like Christmas and fancy bar mitzvahs. There were moments of crisis and doubt.

But together they met every challenge. Rose above all the bumps on the way. In tandem they built a strong union. One that still makes them happy today.

As time passed, Bren realized something. A lesson she’d thought was taboo.
That you can go marry a Christian. And still be a plenty good Jew.

Your children can still have menorahs. And sing every Passover line. It’s just that they’ll also have Easter. And learn to sip Eucharist wine.

Bren knew that the path would be daunting. Bryce saw that the road would be steep. But with hard work and honest commitment – They felt strongly that their love would keep.

Their relationship just goes to show you. The affection they have, hers and his. It may not be perfect or easy. But tell me: In this world, what is?

Jeremy Deutchman is a writer and essayist based in Los Angeles. His work has appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Los Angeles Daily News and Tikkun Magazine.