My Single Peeps: Gary L.


Gary’s brother, Jason, is a recent single peep. And, like Jason, Gary’s a nice, easygoing guy. But, he tells me, this wasn’t always the case. In college, just as he was launching an online magazine, his personality started to shift. He became moody and paranoid, and he was riddled with anxiety. And then one morning he woke up with double vision. He went to a doctor, who thought it might have been from a hockey injury. During a CAT scan, Gary fell asleep and had a nightmare that he was being chased by the hospital staff. Suddenly he snapped awake, and found himself strapped down to a hospital bed. It wasn’t a dream. They ran tests, discovering his glucose levels had dropped so low that his brain was no longer functioning properly. They also found a tumor on his pancreas. It had been slowly growing for 10 years. As soon as it was removed, all the strange behavior disappeared and the old Gary came back.

Gary now lives with his younger brother, who is a partner in their T-shirt line, Nerdy Shirts. He is also relaunching his online magazine, A.Refuge — the Web site is arefuge.com. “The goal is to inspire people and motivate them to get involved with charities, and highlight artists that we look up to. I’m trying to focus on inspiring people. That’s my No. 1 goal.” I ask him what that means. “Inspire them to be better versions of themselves. I’m pretty persistent.”

When it comes to dating, he’s looking for a real relationship. “I’m like a prude in some ways. I’ve never had a one-night stand. If it’s something that’s not purposeful, it feels like a waste of time to me. Once I’m with a girl, if it feels like it’s building toward something, the whole prude title goes out the door. It’s like a two-stage process. Looks get them in the door, and personality keeps them there. And they’re both pretty rigid requirements, I guess. The last girl — who happened to be a model — loved comic books, video games, cartoons … all the goofy guy things that nerds like. I was like, ‘Oh rad, we’re gonna be best friends.’ All of a sudden she started flirting with me, and I realized she was into me. Then she bailed on me when I got sick. She was perfect except for that.”

I ask about personality preferences. “It’s like one of those things where you need enough of the pieces lined up, but a few jagged edges to show you new things.” He continues, “A good sense of humor, someone who understands sarcasm and is OK with a little bit of back-and-forth ribbing.” Ambition is also important to him. “I don’t care what it is. If you want to be the best goddamn waitress in the world, that’s fine. But aim for the top.”

I ask him what he’s learned from his experience with the tumor. He says, “There’s no way I don’t feel super lucky and appreciate that it was averted. No one would wish this on anyone, but it wasn’t a bad experience, because of everything I learned and the people I met. The hospital staff at Cedars-Sinai — I felt so loved. They’re strangers, but they’d come in on their off shifts just to say hi.

“My favorite thought to have in my head through it all was of Calvin’s dad from ‘Calvin and Hobbes.’ Every time something bad would happen, Calvin’s dad would justify it and make it OK by saying, ‘You’re building character.’ I love that. They’d say, ‘We’re taking out the catheter now.’ I’d say, ‘OK, I’m going to build some character now.’ ”

If you’re interested in anyone you see on My Single Peeps, send an e-mail and a picture, including the person’s name in the subject line, to mysinglepeeps@jewishjournal.com, and we’ll forward it to your favorite peep.


Seth Menachem is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter. You can see more of his work on his Web site, sethmenachem.com, and meet even more single peeps at mysinglepeeps.com.

That Feeling


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Sometimes we look across the table and recognize — as Plato describes — our “own half.” The one we know without knowing. And dinner becomes a date with destiny.

For me that was Jon.

It was stirring, magnetic, happy, primal, telepathic and more. We just fit. Hummed at similar frequencies. Came from similar backgrounds. A sensible businessman, he, too, was experiencing things he “never felt before.” We both grinned a lot. I thought we’d found the X on the cosmic map, the crossroad of inevitability where we were meant to be.

We had a promising, whirlwind month together. But as powerful as our connection was, he and it vanished one night — in the time it took to drive the 101 to his house for dinner.

On the surface, it was about his ex-girfriend calling in tears just before I’d arrived and realizing she still loved him. But it was about us. Well, ending us. He wrote a letter stating his confusion and panic, something he also “never felt before” though what we shared was “real and strong.”

He said he’d call to explain soon, but didn’t. He just vanished; wouldn’t say goodbye and I hurtled back to planet Earth alone.

For two weeks, my soul hurt, something I’d never felt before. A throbbing like a headache, but in the outer extremities of — for lack of a better word — my spirit. Aspirin didn’t help.

My buddy Daniel dragged me on a forget-him mission to the Sierras. He shouted above the Cessna’s engine: “The soul is too wild, a place you should visit, not live.” There was mountain turbulence before Kernville and I was trying not to pass out so I couldn’t answer. Though what could I say? My soul has a mind of its own.

Even Mr. Zuckerman, my Yoda-like dry cleaner, noticed something was off in my normally glowy mojo. He listened sadly.

“True love is practical. Think rugalah, not kabbalah, it’s better,” he said handing my sweaters across the counter.

Practical?

Falling in love is one place where normally sensible people talk like Rumi. I’ve observed awestruck scientists, FBI agents, and moguls discussing synchronicity, intuition, destiny, timelessness and a sense of the divine. Though quests for mates might resemble Maxim layouts or Hoover’s CEO profiles, it isn’t so simple: deep down, most long for the one we belong to on some transcendent, mythic, inchoate level — that “feeling.”

Just when I detached and started to date, Jon vividly and relentlessly re-entered my thoughts and dreams. I sensed he was thinking about me, too. So I wrote him saying I thought we had unfinished business. He wrote back, thanking me and said he’d meet me. I left it to him to follow up.

He didn’t. The spectral soul mate did.

He/It became the phantom boyfriend, my ghost of beshert past. He even attended Thanksgiving dinner, invisibly toasting with my family and friends, relishing the caraway herb bread I’d baked.

I knew then — closure or not — I had to let Jon and our happy unlived life go.

The next morning, I left pans soaking and drove to Malibu where I got a latte at Starbucks, then walked across the bridge to the hidden cove where we first kissed and shared the stories of our lives and dreams. I emptied an envelope of torn-up notes and buried them in the sand. I whispered goodbye into the capricious wind. And with resolve I stood up, brushed off the sand, walked back across the bridge, back into my life.

I missed him, nostalgic for something paradoxical: that thing that always and never was. But it passed.

Who can say why one person is a familiar and another isn’t; why one stirs and moves us; why some we like but don’t love and some we love but don’t like; why some we think we just like and then fall madly in love with; what is beshert, pheromones, experience, right timing or simply it. How two people can see each other for five seconds and connect indelibly, while others live together for years but divorce as strangers. Why you forget one and another you can’t.

My psychic friend Jesse thinks it’s past lives.

My zoologist friend Mary claims physiology over metaphysics. That scientific research shows telepathic communication is a highly evolved sonar system all animals share for survival, to identify those in their tribe, flock, pod, pride, etc.

I think my rabbi has it right. He’s pragmatic — if it’s true soul mates, both know it, that “feeling” is mutual and recognizable.

One day, I dreamed about Jon. And then, just hours later, after a six-month absence, he drove past me in Santa Monica without noticing. The coincidence was striking, but not meaningful. More like a cosmic postcard from a place I once knew. Like a connection to the immortal parts of us that persist but can’t exist as grounded, ordinary, primal love. I watched his silver Lexus disappear and I continued walking in the other direction.

Reeva Hunter Mandelbaum is vice president of story research at a film and TV production company and is finishing her first novel, “The Lost Songs of the Cowboy, Jakob Boaz.”

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