Did it make sense to date non-Tribal girls? Sometimes I wondered if that question made me sound like a brainwashed zealot. While my parents made it no secret that they’d prefer me to stay within the Tribe, I wasn’t going to pick a girl just to win their approval. Still, I had a lot of holidays to celebrate as it was and I’m not sure I wanted to be dragged along to any more. Besides, it’d be nice to be with someone who also grew up lighting a menorah, eating matzah and had traditions I could incorporate into my own. Was I limiting myself with that mentality? Who’s to say I wouldn’t be happy with someone who wasn’t Tribal? What if I ended up falling madly in love and having a bunch of kids with a non-Tribal girl and then we got divorced because she wanted to raise our children Zoroastrian? At only 17 years old, was it ridiculous to waste all this mental energy worrying about religious differences?
If Goz was a member of the Tribe, my anxieties would be academic. While the long bleach blonde hair, fair skin and bright blue eyes didn’t give her a Tribal look, you could never tell for sure – our hero had similar recessive traits.
“What do you like on your pizza?” asked Goz.
Here goes. “I’m good with most veggies, but I can’t have any meat because I keep kosher.”
She furrowed her brow. “Keep what?”
So she wasn’t a member. “Kosher. I’m Tribal.”
“Eating guidelines. One of them is you can’t mix milk and meat.
“You didn’t order milk.”
“Any dairy product. Plus the meat isn’t kosher – has to do with how the animal is killed and the meat is prepared.”
“Uh, okay,” said Goz, raising her eyebrow at me as though I’d just told her that I’d been born and raised on Neptune.
Once the vegetarian special arrived, I did my best to nibble away at my pizza, but it was slow going. Goz kept her eyes on my plate, never letting her piece get smaller than mine. After I maxed out at two slices, Goz shifted her gaze to the half-full pizza tray between us, but she didn’t eat another bite.
Throughout the evening, I broke uncomfortable silences by asking Goz about her favorite music, foods, books and movies. By the end of the night, I was running out of “favorites” to ask her about. While I’d hoped that my first date would give me an opportunity to get that elusive first kiss out of the way, the thought of it seemed so forced and unnatural that I didn’t give it any serious consideration when I dropped Goz off.
I'd figured that Goz had probably found me so boring and awkward during our uneventful night of small talk that I didn’t expect to hear from her again. Maybe I would’ve been disappointed if it was earlier in the summer, but with both of us about to kick off college, we weren’t about to start up a serious relationship anyway. I’d successfully gone out with a girl – a serious accomplishment that I could build upon with a new girl at The University of Great Lakes.
Apparently, I’d underestimated my standing with Goz. Perhaps first dates are expected to be uneventful nights of small talk and I’d held my own. Goz called me the next day and suggested we go riding at a horse farm near her house.
Riding a horse fit MegaHot’s uniqueness criteria. Perhaps it would’ve matched her “special” requirement if I hadn’t almost neutered myself during a simple trot around the barn.