Tuesday, May 03, 2005

"Chemical Reaction"

The other day, at the second seder, the host (one of my oldest friends) and I were talking about an old flame of hers, of over 20 years ago. I hadn’t kept track of him, and didn’t know that he’d not only married, but now had an adult child.

That discussion, combined with my writing of the Monday, March 21, 2005 post, “Doubletake: On not judging a book by its cover,” (http://onthefringe_jewishblog.blogspot.com/2005/03/doubletake-on-not-judging-book-by-its.html#comments), and with my reading of Nice Jewish Girl’s blog (http://shomernegiah.blogspot.com/ —whatever you do, you must read this blog from the beginning, or, at the very least, read the first two posts first!!!!!!!!!), really got me thinking about an almost-literally touchy subject—wanting someone when you shouldn’t.

For over twenty years, I’ve carefully “forgotten” about the fact that I once had a real “case” for my aforementioned best friend’s aforementioned old flame. It was not the most pleasant period of my life. I once had occasion to visit him alone in his apartment, and spent a torturous half hour or so forcing myself not to go anywhere near him. That’s about as close as I ever got to being shomeret negiah (observing the law against touching male non-relatives), a practice that I’d never even heard of at the time. There’s something to be said for the tradition prohibiting yichud, the leaving of a male and a female who are not married to one another alone together.

On the plus side, I’m happy that I remembered that incident, because it answers a question that’s bothered me for years. Twice since I’ve been married, I’ve had a serious “chemical reaction” to a man other than my husband. On both occasions, the reaction lasted for months, and was very difficult to ignore. I am eternally grateful that neither man had the slight interest in me. I’ve been troubled for years by the question of whether I could have resisted the temptation. Remembering that earlier incident, when I was still single and yet still managed to resist the temptation because the guy was “taken,” makes me feel a lot better. After all these years of guilt, I finally have the answer to my question—yes, I know I could have resisted the temptation because I’ve resisted it before.

In terms of my fantasy life, I’m eternally grateful for the existence of the “glass mechitzah.” Like the physical barrier separating men from women in an Orthodox synagogue, the television’s screen separates reality from fantasy. I can look—and drool—all I want without ever having to worry about “getting myself in trouble.” What a relief!

Over a number of years, I’ve had particularly strong “chemical reactions” to two specific actors. I’ve often wondered whether, if I ever had the opportunity to meet either one in person, I’d be literally afraid to look at him. There’s such a thing as “up close and personal” being way too close for comfort!

The more recent “chemical reaction” has been the strangest. I guess I’m used to “cradle robbing,” being interested in a guy who’s impossibly younger than I. So you can imagine how freaked out I was when I final got up the nerve to check the biographical information on this guy’s website—and discovered that, if he and I were any closer in age, we’d share a birthday. We’re less than a year apart in age! This guy’s old enough to be my husband, for crying out loud! I’ve never before had a fantasy of the “chemical” kind that came so close to being realistic—and, to tell you the truth, it scares the s_ _t out of me! It’s a bleeping good thing that you can’t get a tan from blushing, because if you could, I’d be halfway to the hospital for treatment of second-degree burns every time I even thought about him. As I was saying, thank G-d for the “glass mechitzah”—he should live and be well, far away from me! :)


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