Quite frankly, I was going on this trip to Israel to get more than just a religious and spiritual experience. Here I was almost 39 years old, and over the last 10 years I had pretty much become something I had thought I would never be – a workaholic.
I got out of law school in 1973. Now I probably should have said that I graduated from law school in 1973, but back then I was really much more interested in getting out of law school than I was in graduating. I mean I was never really sure that I wanted to be a lawyer, and law school is certainly not the best place to be spending your early 20’s if you aren’t inspired to be a lawyer for the rest of your life.
I had far too many other interests, and I really had no idea what life was like out in the real world. I figured that I had studied really hard in school for the last twenty years, starting in kindergarten, and if I ever became a lawyer, I would have it made for life. I was so far out of touch with reality that I really believed that if I passed the bar exam and got a well paying job, everything would be handed over to me on a silver platter, and the rest of my life would be filled with lots of women, lots of fun, and lots of money.
I had been a slave to schooling for far too long, and now was my time to experience the freedom of real life. Yes, I had paid my dues, and now the world owed me a living, a great living, and I was ready to collect on that debt. So I passed the bar exam on my first try, and I was now ready to finally start having lots of fun and making lots of easy money. I would no longer have to study, study, study, and I would never again have to worry about getting straight A’s and making the Honor Roll.
Well, to my great shock and dismay, I quickly found out that I had not at all been prepared for real life. Within about 6 months of having passed the bar exam, I got fired from my first real job. They told me that law was not a 9 to 5 job, and that maybe this type of work was not my cup of tea. They suggested that I might be much better off working with a big law firm in Philly, rather than a small three man practice in Vineland.
I was totally shocked, and I had no idea what I was going to do next. I started seeing a psychotherapist, and he helped restore some of my lost self esteem. It soon became obvious to me that I had very little choice but to open up my own law office in Vineland. I was able to work out a great deal with a local lawyer who had a one man practice and needed some part time help. He would pay me $100 per week, let me use his office and his secretary for free, and whatever work I got on my own was mine to keep.
Not that I was really looking for work on my own. By that time I had already decided that law was not really for me. What I wanted to do was become a famous DJ on the radio, run fantastic singles disco parties, become an expert professional blackjack player, go out with lots of loose women, and make lots of money in the stock market. I thought that was a pretty good plan.
Well, there is an old Jewish saying that goes something like this: “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” Little did I suspect that in 1979 I would be accepting Yeshua as the Jewish Messiah, and my life would totally change for the better.
I started taking my life much more seriously, and I finally began to realize that God had put me on this earth for a much higher purpose than spending up to 18 hours a day in casinos. I came to understand that my legal education was a gift from God, and that I had been empowered with the ability to help many people who were facing lots of serious problems and challenges in their lives.
I learned that to whom much is given, much is required, and I soon began working 7 days a week, 12 or more hours a day, helping as many people as I could. I remember being in one night court session, actually trying a drunk driving case until 3 in the morning. Shortly after that, the court rules changed to require that night court sessions could not continue after midnight. On another day, I had to drive to 7 different courts all over different municipalities in South Jersey to represent clients that had various cases scheduled from 8:30 am to 8 pm.
Then I represented a criminal defendant accused of murder in a 4 week jury trial. I really never thought I would wind up taking that case to trial, because the prosecutor offered my client a pretty good deal, especially considering that there were 4 witnesses ready to testify that he did it. My client didn’t have tons of money, and before I took over as his lawyer, he was represented by the Public Defender’s office. Never suspecting that this case would go to a full blown jury trial, I told my client that I would handle his matter for $500, which was about everything that he had.
Despite very substantial evidence against him, my client maintained his innocence from day one. He told me that he was pleading not guilty, and that he would let the jury determine his fate. Well, I worked on that case for about 18 hours a day during the four week trial, and I spent lots of time preparing for that trial. It was really an amazing experience for me because during that four week jury trial I learned that I was a totally different personality in the courtroom. The prosecutors had totally underestimated me, and when I was in front of that jury, I actually felt like a real powerful and persuasive attorney, sort of like a combination of Perry Mason, F. Lee Bailey, and Al Pacino.
That case really built up my confidence and my reputation as a trial attorney, and after that I tried many more criminal and civil jury trials in which my clients received pretty good results.
So from 1979 until 1987, my social life had gone from very active to pretty much non existent. When I wasn’t working or sleeping, I was either going to religious services and Bible studies, or I was driving to Uniondale, Long Island to have a weekly session with Leemar Hill, my psychotherapist who had introduced me to Yeshua.
Therefore, when I heard about the opportunity to join the MJAA on a 10 day trip to Israel, I just had a feeling that this would be a great time to meet some single Messianic Jewish women, and who knows what would happen after that. I figured there would be at least 4 or 5 eligible women on the trip, so I was looking forward to a great time. Personally, I was hoping for an attractive, vivacious, well proportioned blonde.
When we arrived in Israel and the whole group got together, I realized that the pickings were very slim. Very few single women, and none of them blonde. Of the 40 or so people on the trip, I didn’t see anyone that I could get romantically interested in. But then, wait, it looked like there was still hope. Yohanna Chernoff, the wife of our congregational leader at Beth Yeshua, announced that there was one more young lady coming to join us in 2 days. Maybe, just maybe, she would be the one.
My excitement was building. The time had now arrived for our final traveler to join us. I was sitting alone on that bus, waiting and waiting to see what this woman would look like. Would she be blonde and beautiful? I really had a strong feeling that she would be. But then again, as the Bible says, we should never go by our feelings.
I was clearly disappointed when Yohanna announced our new traveler, as she boarded the tour bus. Her name was Theresa. She was not Jewish, she was not blonde, and I was not very attracted to her at all.
WELL, AT LEAST SHE WAS INTERESTING TO TALK TO
When we finished touring for the day, the bus took us to an Arab restaurant in the town of Jericho. I was sitting at a table with one of the guys on the trip, enjoying a pretty good dinner. All of a sudden Theresa comes over, introduces herself, and asks to join us. We of course said, “sure”.
I have no idea what we talked about at first, but she definitely was a talker. The bus wasn’t leaving until a couple of hours after dinner, so somehow Theresa and I wound up taking a rather long walk. I don’t remember very much about what we talked about, but she definitely did the vast majority of the talking.
Theresa started telling me a little bit about her personal life, and I do remember her telling me that on her 36th birthday she decided to completely turn her life around. She said that she felt that her life was already half over, and from this point going forward she was going to do exactly what she wanted to do, with just three qualifications.
First, it had to be legal, second, it could not be against any Godly or biblical principles, and third, she had to be able to afford it. She then told me the two most important decisions that she had made since having reached that ripe old age of 36. She was going to go on a trip to Israel, and she was going to break up with her boyfriend Joe.
Theresa was fulfilling her first decision by having come on this trip with the MJAA. As to her decision about Joe, well that one seemed to be much more difficult to accomplish. It seemed that she had been trying to break up with this guy for several months, but no matter how hard she tried, he would just show up and place himself back into her life. I really didn’t understand what the big problem was. I mean if she really wanted to get rid of him, well why didn’t she just get rid of him. Why was it so hard?
Theresa also told me a little bit about her educational background and her career at AT&T. I have no idea what I told her about myself other than that I was a lawyer, and that I had never been married. She was definitely very bright, very well educated, and very easy to talk to. I figured she might make a good friend, and would be a good companion to hang out with during this trip.
As far as anything else goes, I really wasn’t at all interested in any type of romantic involvement. I mean she wasn’t Jewish, she was Catholic. She wasn’t a full bodied blonde, she was a dark complexioned petite brunette. And although I would admit that she was attractive, I was not really attracted to her.
The main trip to Israel lasted 10 days, and then there was an extra optional trip for 3 more days to Eilat, a beautiful resort area where the sun was supposed to shine 360 days a year. After our first meeting, Theresa and I pretty much hung out together and got to be pretty friendly. But that’s all it was, a friendship. It was obvious that she loved to talk and share. She was very outgoing, very outspoken, and very opinionated. I, on the other hand, was more of a listener than a talker. Although we spent a lot of time together during the trip, I don’t really have very many specific memories of exactly what we said or did, although certain things do come to mind.
Theresa was very open about her life, and she talked a lot about her relationship with her mother and the boyfriend that she was trying to get rid of. Neither of us had any brothers or sisters, and we felt an immediate bond about the mutual challenges we faced by being an only child.
Although I was almost 40 years old, I had not really shared a whole lot about my personal life with many people, other than my psychotherapist from Long Island, Leemar Hill, and a small group of five or six people that also counseled with him. I found it pretty easy to talk to Theresa, and I told her about my parents being Holocaust survivors, and how virtually their entire families had been exterminated by the Nazis. Growing up, I felt that I couldn’t be the real me, because the real me was not who my parents wanted me to be. Although I didn’t find this out until many years later, my mother secretly wanted me to be a Rabbi. Well, if that had ever happened, I would have become the best professional blackjack playing and disco partying rabbi ever.
I learned from Theresa that she also faced many challenges about being the person that she really wanted to be. She was born to dance and entertain, but her mother wanted her to be either a nun, or a doctor, or both. It apparently didn’t matter to Theresa’s mom that Theresa wanted to get married and have children, nor did it matter that Theresa couldn’t stand the sight of blood, didn’t like touching people, and most certainly didn’t like playing around with human orifices.
As young children, both Theresa and I were expected to always be obedient and on our best behavior. I had to be the good little Jewish boy, and Theresa had to be the good little Catholic girl. From kindergarten through the seventh grade, I went to Jewish Day School, learning how to read and write Hebrew, studying the Jewish Scriptures, and being taught how to be a good Jew. My goal was to learn enough so that I could successfully become a Bar Mitzvah boy at the age of 13, and then deliver a brilliant speech in front of the Jewish synagogue congregation, eventually proclaiming that “today I am a man!” Theresa had a Catholic based education all the way through high school, learning all about Jesus and whatever else those nuns and priests taught you.
We both had obvious challenges with our mothers. For many, many years I had felt tied to my mother’s apron strings. When I graduated law school, I would have preferred to work far away from Vineland, where I grew up and where my parents still lived, but I just felt some sort of unexplainable compulsion that I had to stay close to where my parents were. I did many things that my mother wouldn’t approve of, but I sure did everything I could think of to make sure that she wouldn’t find out. Theresa told me that she was sort of like Miss Goody Two Shoes, whoever that was, but there were plenty of things that she wanted to do, and didn’t do, because those things wouldn’t please her mother.
Then there was this thing with her boyfriend that she supposedly couldn’t get rid of. What was the problem here? Why couldn’t she just tell him, “leave me alone, and get out of my life”?
I also remember Theresa complaining a whole lot about her roommate on the trip. I had briefly met her before Theresa arrived, and she seemed nice enough, but according to Theresa, this girl was extremely obnoxious, noisy, and very inconsiderate. She just was not a very nice person.
Theresa was very much into picture taking, and boy did she take a lot of pictures. She was very proud of this new camera that she had just purchased before the trip, and every single picture that she took had to be just right. But it seemed like it took her almost forever until she would click that pic. Before she would take a picture, she had to make sure that everyone posing for that picture was standing exactly the right way, looking exactly the right way, and acting exactly the right way. It was starting to look pretty apparent that this girl was sort of like a perfectionist, a micro manager, and a control freak.
And then there were certain words that she just loved to use on a regular basis. It seemed that she might be the hard to please type, because she was really good at finding faults and what was wrong with everything.
It soon became obvious to me that her three favorite words in describing something that she didn’t like were “gross”, “nasty”, and “disgusting”. In her hierarchy of values, however, I couldn’t figure out whether it was worse to be gross, or whether disgusting or nasty were about as bad as it could get. But it certainly was abundantly clear that whether you were a person, or any other type of living or inanimate object, if you wanted Theresa to like you, you’d better never get caught being gross, nasty, or disgusting.
Looking back on my limited past dating life, I realized that, just like with my mother, I often felt that I couldn’t be the real me with my dates, because I didn’t think they would like the real me. So I would put on an act, and try to be the kind of guy that I thought they would like. Of course that never worked. On the other hand, since I was not at all romantically attracted to Theresa, and since she was telling me all about her numerous challenges, I surprisingly felt very open in talking to her about my fears, doubts, and problems. It felt good getting it off my chest. And since she didn’t really know any of my friends or family back home, I wasn’t worried that she was going to tell all of this stuff to anyone else that knew me.
Theresa definitely had many complaints about her mother. It seemed that her mother had worked very hard over the years doing her best to control Theresa’s life. Boy I guess I had been wrong for a very long time, because I had always thought that that particular job was something that had been reserved exclusively for Jewish mothers.
I wasn’t exactly dating anyone in 1987, but I had developed somewhat of an interest in an attorney by the name of Ruthy. I was handling a lot of criminal cases back then, and every Monday morning the prosecutors and the defense attorneys would meet in the chambers of the chief criminal judge, Judge Isaac Serata, to discuss the cases on the calendar for the week. It was pretty much the same faces every week, but one Monday morning around February I walked in there and quickly noticed an attorney that I had never seen before. She was laughing and joking around with everyone, like she had been there for years.
She definitely caught my attention, and I soon learned that she had just joined the trial team of the county prosecutor’s office. This meant that I would probably be seeing her on a regular basis, and I might even be trying some jury trials against her. I soon learned that her name was Ruth Ann, she liked to be called Ruthy, she was divorced, and she was Jewish. She was also pretty attractive, and definitely outgoing and friendly.
As things turned out, I saw Ruthy in court on a regular basis. There was a conference room where defense attorneys and prosecutors would normally meet to discuss potential resolution of their cases. Although the prosecutors and defense attorneys were technically adversaries, mostly all of them developed friendships with each other, and while I wouldn’t say we were necessarily all buddy buddy, we certainly had no problems joking around and shooting the breeze. And of course there always were discussions about things like some of the stupid decisions that some of the judges were making, who was going out with whom, who was getting married, who was getting pregnant, who was supposedly having an affair, who was getting divorced, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
While I was in Israel in 1987, we had a two hour break one day, so I bought a bunch of Israeli post cards to send back home to my friends and relatives. I was sitting on the bus filling out some of the post cards, and for some reason I suddenly thought of Ruthy, and although I didn’t consider myself to have a close relationship with her at that time, I just thought to myself, why don’t I just send her a postcard to the prosecutor’s office and let’s see what happens. I’m not sure what I wrote on the card, but I remember thinking to myself that it was pretty clever and that she would probably enjoy it.
Somewhere around 1990, I eventually represented a client in a case where she was the prosecutor. My client, let’s call him Charlie, was a fast talking handsome young man who was charged with having defrauded a very sweet elderly lady out of about $10,000, and he was facing the possibility of maybe 10 years in prison. Ruthy offered him the opportunity to take a deal and serve 3 years, but Charlie maintained his innocence. He claimed that she had given him the money over a period of time during which he performed significant personal services for her.
In criminal cases, the burden of proof is on the prosecution. In other words, Charlie did not have to prove that he was innocent. The only way Ruthy could win this case was if she could convince a jury that Charlie was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The evidence was really pretty flimsy against Charlie. It basically came down to his word against the word of the lovable old lady. As a criminal defense attorney I had learned that if you ask enough questions, you can almost always create some doubt, and when people get on the witness stand and testify under oath in front of a jury, you almost never can be sure of what they are going to say.
And of course Ruthy, Charlie, and I all understood that you never know what a jury is going to do. Charlie didn’t want to risk going to prison for 10 years, and Ruthy didn’t want to have a blemish on her trial career by losing a potentially winnable case. That’s the kind of situation that usually leads to “let’s make a deal.”
And a deal is exactly what we made. We held out as long as possible, and as the trial date approached, Ruthy gradually lowered her offer. It started at 3 years, and she progressively went down, until just before trial she offered, I think it was about 90 days. Charlie was a smart man, and took the deal. He was happy, and the elderly lady was probably happy also, because I’d guess that she was scared to death to testify in court. The Judge was happy because he didn’t have to try the case, and he could relax for the rest of week. And the same would apply to Ruthy, because she now had another conviction on her record, and she didn’t have to sweat out the stress of a jury trial.
I should probably also let you know that when a defendant is sentenced to a certain amount of jail time, quite often that defendant gets released well before he maxes out. In other words, although Charlie was officially sentenced to 90 days, he could very well have been released after 45 days based on good behavior, work release programs, house arrest programs, or other alternative programs.
Shortly after having concluded Charlie’s case, I started getting pretty busy with other types of cases, such as helping people with personal injury cases, medical malpractice, worker’s compensation, traffic tickets, real estate, and other general practice matters. I therefore didn’t see much of Ruthy for several years. I did, however, keep up with the normal court house gossip, and I learned that around 1991, quite to my surprise, Ruthy married one of the public defenders. I had never really been impressed with the guy, he wasn’t Jewish, and I didn’t really see this as a match made in heaven. About six months later, I learned that they were divorced.
Although I was generally working seven days a week, and I certainly wasn’t dating, every once in a while I got the urge to go to some kind of singles event. In the spring on 1994 I heard about a Saturday night singles event at a local synagogue in Cherry Hill. The synagogue had received a lot of publicity in recent years, because somewhere around 1992 the Rabbi had been convicted by a jury for masterminding the murder of his wife.
I wasn’t really expecting much, but shortly after I walked in, there was Ruthy. I don’t think I’d seen her for maybe two years or so, because somewhat abruptly she had left the prosecutor’s office and took a job as a public defender. Instead of being adversaries, we were now on the same side of the fence, protecting the rights of the innocently accused.
This was actually the first time that I had seen Ruthy in a social setting. She knew a lot of people at the party, and she was quite the dancer. She was dancing with all of these different guys, and she was pretty much the life of the party. After a while I started dancing with her, and I was having a pretty good time.
I was always into the latest music, especially dance music, and I had made up some cassette tapes of the most popular dance songs like “What is Love and “Mr. Vain”. At the end of the night, Ruthy and I were one of the few people still there. I went out to my car and brought in one of the cassette tapes that I had, and gave it to her, telling her that she would love playing this music at home or in the car, and if she really liked it, well I had plenty more where that came from. So, I got her number, and two days later, even though I didn’t have any criminal cases on the calendar, I sought her out at the criminal conference room in the court house.
She was quite busy trying to make deals with the prosecutors, but I did have a couple of minutes to ask her if she had listened to the tape. She did, and she loved it. So of course I told her there’s a lot more that I could give her. I started calling her, and the next thing you know, on Friday night we wound up going dancing at a disco that was about three minutes from her apartment.
We started seeing each other very frequently after that. I would say I came over to her place maybe 3 or 4 times a week. Ruthy talked a lot about her previous relationships – she was married twice, and she had been engaged maybe five or six times. The guys seemed like great guys at the beginning, but they pretty much turned into beasts, sometimes violent beasts, in the end. Her marriage to the public defender was a short and very unhappy one. It looked like of all the relationships, the only one that was great was her first marriage, but somehow she messed it up and chased the guy away.
One thing that really impressed me about her was the love and compassion she had for her clients. One might normally think of a public defender as uncaring and lazy, just wanting to get the case over as quickly and as easily as possible. That might have been true for many, but it never would have been true for Ruthy. Her knowledge, her zeal, and her quest for justice and for what was right were amazing. I was quite surprised at her passion and all of the above listed qualities that she so readily exhibited once I got to know her.
She was definitely a zealous advocate and a furious and fantastic fighter for her clients and against her foes. Looking back a couple of years, I was glad that I didn’t go to trial with Charlie on that theft charge. I would have gone into that case having grossly underestimated her talents and skills, and Charlie might well have wound up in prison for who knows how long.
So, for the first time in many years, I actually started dating again. We were off to a very good start. We definitely got along very well, and we had a lot of fun together. We loved to dance, we loved to laugh, and we loved to drive fast cars. But what about our religious and spiritual beliefs? I was a Messianic Jew who believed that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah. Ruthy was Jewish, but it didn’t seem to me that she had any strong religious or spiritual beliefs at all. I realized that if we were going to have any sort of meaningful relationship, I’d better find out what she believed about life, about people, and about God. The sooner the better.
ENJOYING THE TRIP
After that first night together in Israel, Theresa and I started sitting together on the tour bus. By the time she arrived on the tour, it was already the third day of the trip. While most of the people on the trip had already met and socialized to some extent with one another, Theresa didn’t know anyone in this MJAA group, so she naturally had a lot of catching up to do. Our fellow MJAA travelers were looking forward to getting to know more about her, and it didn’t take very long for Theresa to create a rather auspicious first impression upon them.
The main attraction on this day was the Dead Sea, the sea that has so many dense salty minerals in it that it is supposedly impossible to drown. We all frolicked and floated in the Dead Sea, and after that we covered our faces and bodies with Dead Sea mud, which looks horrible but is supposed to be very healthy for you. We took some great pictures, once Theresa got everyone to stand and pose just exactly right. I mean a normal 5 second picture took about 5 minutes, and that’s a pretty long time to hold a phony smile.
Once your body has been covered with all of that black, sticky and gooey mud, you’ve obviously got to get a great shower to feel somewhat close to normal again. Well, shower we did, then we dried off, we got dressed, and we got back on the bus. Our tour guide Yehuda was a pretty strict guy, and he did his best to make sure our bus was always operating on a tight time schedule, as he wanted us to get the most out of each day. So Yehuda is ready to tell the bus driver to get moving, but wait. It seems that one of our group members is missing in action.
Yes, Theresa is nowhere to be found, and after a delay of about 5 minutes, Yehuda starts fuming. Finally, Theresa shows up, and she whispers something in Yehuda’s ear. Well, Theresa can tell you the whole story much better than I can, but the bottom line is that about 5 seconds after she finishes whispering in Yehuda’s ear, Yehuda turns to all of the passengers on the bus, and in a very loud voice says, “Theresa can’t find her bra.” Everyone broke out in wild laughter, and I’m sure that Theresa will happily tell you the rest of the story.
That night, after Theresa and I got back to the hotel, we decided we’d have dinner together. I was happy to do that, but I told Theresa that based on my limited past experience, women take virtually forever to get ready, and I was in no mood to delay my dinner. We had found the food in Israel to be quite good, and I was pretty hungry after the workout we had in the Dead Sea. Well, Theresa assured me that she was not like most other women. She told me she takes a very quick shower and also gets dressed quickly. So I told her that I would meet her at her room by a certain time, but I really didn’t think she would be ready that fast.
As I knocked on her door, I expected that I would be waiting for her for quite a long time. To my great surprise, she opened the door smiling and ready to go. That was about the first time that I had ever experienced a woman being ready on time, and I must admit that that was very impressive. Very impressive indeed.
The next few days passed rather quickly. We talked more about our mothers, and I tried to make some suggestions as to how Theresa could dump her boyfriend, but they were rejected out of hand. I’m not sure what else Theresa and I were talking about, but I did share some things with her that I had rarely shared with others. She was pretty analytical, and tried to be my practical psychologist, and I took her advice seriously.
We definitely felt that we could freely talk to each other, and throughout the rest of the trip we shared good times and good laughs. Theresa was very outgoing, and had no problem at all starting conversations with people she had never met. We therefore met many local Israelis, and quickly made quite a few new friends. We both thought Israel and Israeli people were really great, and we talked about what it might be like if we lived in Israel. It seemed to me that Theresa was just about ready to pick up and move here.
The basic tour was 10 days, with an optional 3 day extension to Eilat. Theresa had arrived on day 3, and the next 7 days just flew by. I had signed up for the Eilat trip, but Theresa had only signed up for the basic 10 day tour, and she had to leave and catch her plane back to the States. We exchanged numbers, and said our goodbyes. I didn’t kiss her goodbye, and I don’t remember if I hugged her, but I do remember wishing that she wasn’t leaving. I really didn’t know if I would ever see her again or not.
KIDS CAMP FOR ADULTS
Soon after I got back to my normal workaholic life, an opportunity was presented to me where I could see Theresa again. During a recess in criminal court one day, I started to talking to Sonny, the court reporter. We were discussing what we had planned for the upcoming Labor Day weekend, and Sonny told me that for the last couple of years he and his wife had been going up to the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York. I of course had nothing planned, other than working.
I didn’t think a trip to the mountains sounded very interesting, but after talking to Sonny a little more, it began to sound pretty intriguing. He told me that he belonged to a Christian ministry called Young Life, and every Labor Day weekend the adults got to go to the kids’ camp. He said it was really a blast, and the price was right. I figured I’d tell Theresa about it, and if she wanted to go, I’d go. It wouldn’t be like a date, it would just be a fun trip with friends, and we would pay our own way.
Theresa said yes, and Sonny was right. It was a real blast. The lake was beautiful, the weather was beautiful, and the people were great. There were all kinds of water sports, and plenty of fun night activities. One night we dressed up as pirates, another night we were playing crazy games, and another night we were singing and dancing.
One really cool thing we did that neither of us had ever done before was parasailing. We were both a little scared at first, especially Theresa, but once we saw everybody else doing it and landing safely, we did it, and it was a thrilling ride for each of us. Theresa took a great picture of me landing in the water. As soon as I got back to work I put that picture right on the desk in my office.
WHO NEEDS ROMANCE?
During the course of the next several months, Theresa and I started talking on the phone with each other on a fairly regular basis. As far as I was concerned we were becoming good friends, but nothing more than that. Looking back on it, our relationship might have been sort of along the lines of Seinfeld and Elaine, good friends who could have fun together and talk to each other about pretty much anything.
So, it was sort of natural that we discussed some of our history and past relationships with each other. I told her all about my disco days in the ‘70s. How I was Disco Sy, throwing all of these singles parties, and meeting and going out with all of these women. I also told her how I really didn’t like law at the beginning of my career, and how I had hoped to make millions in the stock market and by becoming a professional card counting blackjack player.
As far as women were concerned, well I could take them or leave them. I was very fickle, and once I started going out with a girl, well it didn’t take too long for me to figure out all of the reasons that I wouldn’t want to spend the rest of my life with her, so I would just stop calling them, because I really didn’t know how to break up with them.
There was only one girl that I dated for more than a couple of months. I met her at one of my disco parties. She caught my eye as soon as she walked into the room. She was attractive, blonde, and very well built.
We immediately hit it off and started going out, but sure enough, after about six months, I started to lose interest. I was just going through the motions. Around that time, I became a card counter, and thought I could become a professional blackjack player.
One weekend I went to Vegas, and I brought her back a cheap $3 pair of earrings with dice inside them. She made believe that she liked them, but I’m sure she didn’t. Then, a couple of weeks later I told her that I felt like I was obligated to take her out every weekend, and pretty soon after that she made it perfectly clear that she didn’t want me to call her anymore.
BREAKING UP IS EASY TO DO
Theresa came to New Jersey one weekend around 1989 for work, and she asked if I wanted to get together with her because she had always wanted to see the Statue of Liberty. My parents came to the United States with me in 1949 on a ship from Germany that docked at Ellis Island, and I had never been back there to see what it was like, so I figured that would be a good opportunity for me to see where I was when I was about one year old. It was a cold day, and they were doing some construction on the Statue, so we didn’t get to see or do as much as we might have ordinarily been able to do.
Theresa was very impressed, and was reading all of the stuff on the walls, and all of the old documents that showed when people arrived from countries all over the world. I guess I should have been equally impressed, but I just wasn’t into it. We probably did other stuff that day also, but I don’t really remember much else except when I took Theresa back to her hotel.
I drove her to the hotel probably about 8 pm, and I had about a 2 ½ hour ride back home to Philly, so I just wanted to drop her off and get home because I had a busy work week ahead of me. Theresa was acting like she wanted me to come in to her room and stay a while. I think she might have even tried to kiss me, I’m not sure.
Well, I just wanted to go, and I said something like, “look, I’m not attracted to you, and I’m not romantically interested in you. I just want to be your friend.” Then I left. Little did I suspect at the time that I wouldn’t be speaking to Theresa again for maybe about two years.
Now at this point, I think I’d better stop, because this has gotten to be a little longer than a short story. In fact, Theresa and I have decided that we are going to write a book, and we will probably do it from two totally different perspectives – hers and mine.
Somehow, after being great friends for 28 years, we got married in the Chicago suburb of Oakbrook on June 7, 2015. We had so much fun that we did it again in Philly on September 7, 2015. Theresa is an attorney and a member of the Illinois bar, and she will hopefully soon be licensed to practice law with us here in New Jersey.
If anyone would like to see a very short 3 ½ minute video trailer of our Chicago wedding you can watch it here.