My Forbidden Orthodox Love
I fell for the girl in the FBI T-shirt the first time I saw her. But she was religious, and I wasn’t.
When I arrived at Jerusalem Pizza to work the Saturday night shift several hours later, a minivan was sitting in the parking lot. No customers ever got to the store earlier than I did. When I walked into the store, I saw a couple sitting where the FBI girl had sat the night she came in with her friends. The woman approached me and said that she and her husband needed to talk to me. My body weakened and my head got foggy.
I sat across from the FBI girl’s parents in the empty dining room. The father rubbed his mustache. The mother sat forward in her chair. “I’m really not happy about this,” she began. She explained that she didn’t want her daughter talking to boys. Plus, I went to public school and didn’t wear a yarmulke! She had enough stress because she had another daughter to marry off, and her husband had already had one heart attack; did I want to give him another? She demanded that I call her daughter and tell her that we had to stop talking.
“I can’t do that,” I said.
The father finally took his hand away from his mustache. “My daughter is religious. You’re not. This will never work out.” She lived under his roof, he said, so she had to listen to his rules.
“I have to get to work,” I said angrily, and left the dining room.
The next morning, my cell phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number. I picked it up and it was the FBI girl. Her parents had taken her cell phone away, so she was calling from the house phone.
“Your parents came into the store,” I said.
“I’m sorry,” she said.
“It’s OK. It’s not your fault.”
In the background, I heard her parents yelling at her to get off the phone.
“Leave me alone,” she yelled.
“Get off the damn phone!” I heard her father yell.
The phone slammed down.
I couldn’t get the FBI girl out of my head. I couldn’t focus on my schoolwork. I went to sleep thinking about her—how smooth her blonde hair was, how we both liked mushrooms on our pizza, and how neither of us wanted to be the first to hang up after talking for hours. I wished I had hugged her one last time.
Whenever the pizza shop door opened the next month, I hoped to see her walk in again. But she didn’t. Her parents had been right: Our relationship wouldn’t work out. I needed to accept what the FBI girl’s parents already had: I went to public school and didn’t wear a yarmulke. Two weeks later, I started ordering sandwiches in the cafeteria, changing in the gym locker room, and I even started talking to public-school girls.
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