On their second date, Asher and Raheli talked for six hours neither of them checking their watches even once.
“What could you possibly say to each other for all that time?”, Molly asked. Asher just giggled into the phone line.
“Sounds good “said Nahum.
“Our dates weren’t like this.. I mean we didn’t talk for four hours ”
“No,” said Nahum. “But hey, I’m glad he’s excited..”
“Do you think these kids fall in love,” asked Molly.
“I didn’t think so. I never thought shidduch dating included romance buy hey this sounds like love.”
In the morning Esther phoned Molly to arrange the third date “This should be a day time date.”
“Tell your son to take Rahely to the biblical zoo.”
But Asher resisted. “Mom
Rahely doesn’t like zoos. We thought of going to the Tayelet to ride the Segways”
“Okay, I’ll tell Esther, but when she called Esther, reaching her on the ninth attempt she got an earful.
“Molly do you live under a rock. Didn’t you hear the news? A rocket almost landed near the Tayelet yesterday.
Asher can’t take Rahely there. The Silvers will think he’s irresponsible.”
Molly called Asher back. “Please, listen to her.—”
But Asher refused to back down. ” What do you want us to do? Make funny faces at the orangutan.”
“Please, just got to a hotel. Esther’ is giving me a terrible time. Listen Asher, do you want to blow this. She’s saying that the Silvers may pull out. Please….”
“Okay Mom, The King David. and then we can walk to the kotel”
Date three was very much like dates one and two . At the end of the date Asher and Rahely swapped phone numbers. “Lets be in touch directly, Not through the matchmaker,” said Rahely.
“Fine what about we go to the dead sea . We’ll travel separately so no one will see us and then we can meet there.”
As he rode the bus back from Rahely’s parents apartment after the date Asher decided that he was ready. Rahely was it. As the sun set over the Dead Sea, he’d ask her hand In marriage.
He analyzed each of the formulations as if they were Talmudic phrases. There was “Raheli, will you marry me,” which gave her a choice—but what if she chose to say no. Or he could say “Rahely will you be my wife,” That sounded cold but the alternative “Raheli I want to marry you,” seemed too forceful. Like an actor learning his lines, he practiced the each of them still not sure which one to select. And he worried that his throat would betray him, his vocal chords shutting down just as he was about the pop the question and the Rahely would conclude that something was wrong with him and break it off.
The morning after date #3 Esther phoned Molly as she was ironing.
“Nobody in their right mind takes a girl to the Dead Sea. Dead, It funerals, corpses. That’s not the kind of imagery we want to conjure up.”
“But the Dead Sea is beautiful.”
“Beautiful, shmeutiful. It’s not a place to take a date and besides Rebetzin Silver is horrified that your son would dare to let her daughter travel for three hours alone on a hot bus—especially with everything that is going on. You’d better talk to your son this time or this shidduch is going to self-destruct.” The words made her so dizzy that she put down her iron and grabbed the nearest chair to sit. Then she phoned Asher.
“No Dead Sea.” Her tone was sharp and edgy, as if she’d caught Edie’s mood.
“But Raheli loves the Dead Sea “From his tone, it sounded as if they were an old married couple.
“Esther said no.”
Asher grew silent. Molly overheard the symphony of hundreds of young voices merging in the ancient Talmudic dialectic.
“Okay … we’ll meet at the Crowne Plaza instead.”
“And afterwards please bring her over. Your father and I would like to meet her.”
“Are you sure”
“You’ve met her parent’s right? ”
“But so bring her over tonight.”
“Okay but just make sure that nobody’s home except you and Dad.”
Molly jumped up in the air and clapped her hands together. She twirled around the living room singing the lyrics from West Side Story. “Tonight, tonight won’t be just any night.” She felt like she herself had fallen in love. Then took another look around. In the harsh morning light the scuffs and dents and scratches on her furniture had become all too apparent.
“This place is a mess! I don’t want to kallah to think that we live in squalor.”
“They’ve had four dates. I think it’s a little premature to refer to her as his bride.”
“These kids, they get right to the point. They can see into eachother’s souls without distractions.”
“Okay, I get it but I still don’t want to see Asher rushing into anything.”
“Oh c’mon,” said Molly. “Let’s accept this in the spirit of gratitude.”
Molly spent most of the day getting ready. She gave the living room a thorough washing the floors and windows and even taking down the dusty drapes, washing them and hanging them back up and she baked chocolate chip cookies, lemon bars, brownies and blondies. Then she showered and applied fresh makeup. Then she put on her wig and her newest outfit, , a silky sleeveless top which she wore with a long sleeved shell underneath a black pencil skirt and a pair of high heeled wedgie sandales.
“How do I look.”
” Fine but It’s not your date,” said Nahum. Then she returned to the kitchen to lay the cakes and cookies out on a silver tray with a doily underneath and she prepared a pitcher of lemon aid with ice cubes and lemon slices floating in the sweet water.
“Gourmet. Can I have one?”
“Wait. Otherwise you’ll mess up the symmetry,”
“How did you keep everyone else from eating them.”
“Elazar is in yeshiva, I think…and I sent Moshe and Bella to the pizza store with a two hundred shequel note. and told them not to come back until 10.”
“So you’re thinking this will take a while.”
“Well I’m sure we’ll have a lot to talk about.”