So, over the past eighteen months a good chunk of my friends have either gotten married or pregnant (sometimes in that order). For a while, my stock response was something to the effect of “sometimes I think I want to get married, but really, all I want is to throw a big, formal party.” But, as my mid-20s have gently segued into my, um, late-mid-20s, I’ve started to consider not only what would make me happy three beers deep, but, also, what would make me happy in the seemingly undefined “long term” and what would make my family happy in our seemingly defined Meet the Parents-like future. Growing up, my parents were pretty liberal when it came to most things (T.V., junk food, sex, drugs, rock-and-roll), but the one thing my dad promised, “would break my mother’s heart” was marrying a non-Jewish girl. And luckily for him, no gentile woman could ever spend more than one night with my nervous system OR understand my unconditional love of white fish and bagels.
But, just when I thought it would be another 8-10 years before I found the woman who would drive me slightly insane for all of eternity, I met someone who seemed to have all the proper qualifications: a 5’3, neurotic, New York-bred, Jewish girl with both a college degree and a pair of patchwork pants (in her closet). She even understand that the phrase "I love you like a 'Ghost' from '97" was a compliment, not some failed attempt at post-adolescent trick-or-treating or a secret reference to an ex-girlfriend from 11 years ago.
We met earlier this month at a party and made plans to go out for drinks, which quickly segued into a full on dinner (always a good sign of things to come). Over the course of the night, we touched upon all the appropriate subjects and one-by-one she passed the small Seinfeldian quizzes I subconsciously pop whenever I meet someone of interest:
Do you live within the social L that extends from the Beacon Theater on the Upper West Side, across/below
Have you seen Garden State enough times to know when I am plagiarizing Zach Braff?
Are you so neurotic that you actually make me seem calm, cool and collected (or at least confident)?
In retrospect, it was one of those rare nights when the conversation flowed like wine, the wine flowed like water and the water flowed like, well, like fish (come on, you saw that one coming for a half a sentence). I've always said that you can tell a date is going well when the waiter hands you the check instead of placing it in the middle of the table and let’s just say he asked me if I wanted to open up a tab before we received our appetizers. The night got a bit fuzzy from there, but I'm pretty sure that sometime before dessert, I took a metal note of her favorite flowers and ring size. But, then, a few hours into our conversation, she touched on a topic more taboo than aligning with Red board over the Green board on PT and revealed a rather interesting tidbit:
She's a Republican.
And, let me clarify: not a financially conservative, intellectual for Israel, post-Steven Colbert, pro-Bloomberg neo-con or whatever the kids are calling everyone who lives in Murray Hill these days, but a real, Bush-loving, Cheney supporting conservative (who hates MoveOn.org, even though they had the foresight to introduce Neil Young to My Morning Jacket way back in 2004).
After I pulled my jaw from the ground, I began to think what dating a Republican would mean for me: we’d probably have to balance our car with both red and blue bumper stickers, split custody of the T.V. between Fox News and the Daily Show at 11 PM every night and avoid the first week of November for any impending weddings, anniversaries or potential birthdays (unless, of course, the Democrats manage to retake the White House next year)
Now, I have friends who are so liberal they sometimes make me want to change parties altogether (and four years after we broke up, I'm still not sure how my ex-girlfriend managed to convince me that turning on my air conditioning was equal to voting for Bush, but driving from Saratoga to Boston in a SUV for a Nader rally was kosher), but I’ve always felt that dating out of party is kind of like sleeping with someone from a different religious background: It’s fun for a night or two, but our chances of tying the knot are about as good as Edwards scoring the Democratic Nomination.
But, it did get me thinking where exactly politics holds up on my list of Facebook vital statistics, especially since---my Mom and Dad aside---I grew up in red-county, poisoning the minds of young intellectuals in an otherwise blue state. In fact, of my four best guy friends from high school, one actually clocked in time working for Bush post-college, a second switched parties to appease his conservative investment banking boss, a third switched parties to appease my friend who switched parties to appease his conservative investment banking boss and a fourth is so idealistic that he actually thinks Bush is trying to spread Democracy. Since I also rely on at least a few of these friends for regular advice on life, love and loose commas, I’ve also justified to myself: namely, a job’s a job, money’s money, your friend’s money is money and that anyone that idealistic probably still thinks Phish’s hiatus was about spending time at home with the kids.
Luckily, before I paid the check and she managed to help repeal the first amendment, she also told me she liked the last two seasons of Seinfeld, so I obviously immediately chopped the check, but the night did get me thinking about if I could end up with someone who longed for the day when Gamehendge would be a red state. I even asked my Democratic Party-card holding Dad if he thought marrying a Republican would break my mother’s heart. He smiled and said, “No, she probably wouldn’t mind, but you better not ask me to help pay for the wedding.”