New Yorker: Do the following statements refer to (a) my dog or (b) my Jewish boyfriend?
1. The first thing I noticed about him was his eyes.
2. We love to spend hours in bed together on Sunday mornings.
3. He’s crazy for cream cheese.
4. It hasn’t always been easy, but we currently live together and it’s going O.K.
5. Our anniversary is in two days and I’m not sure if he remembers.
6. If it were up to him, every room in our place would be carpeted.
7. But he has asthma.
8. I feel that he is judgmental about the food I serve him. When I make something from scratch, he doesn’t want to eat it, but he also rejects most store-bought dinners.
9. This is because he comes from a culture in which mothers focus every ounce of their attention on their offspring and don’t acknowledge their own need for independence as women. They are sucked dry by their children, who ultimately leave them as soon as they find suitable mates.
10. As a result of this dynamic, he expects to be waited on hand and foot by the women in his life, and anything less than that makes him whiny and distant.
11. I wish he were more excited about spending time with my friends.
12. At our local organic bistro, he will often leave three-quarters of his salmon fillet untouched, offering no explanation and offending the waiter, who will ask balefully, “Was it undercooked?”
13. He doesn’t tip.
14. And he never brings his wallet anywhere.
15. He came with me to therapy once and was restless and unexpressive.
16. When I go out of town on a business trip, he sleeps with a pair of my underwear.
17. When I get home from the business trip, he ignores me for hours, sometimes days, forcing me to wonder whether he would be better off with a woman who has a less demanding career. “Why don’t you find some catalogue model who just sits around all day and rubs your back? I bet you’d like that,” I hiss. “I apologize for my many accomplishments. I’m sorry they mean nothing to you.”
18. He respects my father but is intimidated by his Waspy, buttoned-up demeanor, flat cadence, and inability to express physical affection toward other men. The tension between them takes the form of passive-aggressive pissing matches and hostile silences.
19. He’s really more of an ass man.
20. He has a sensitive stomach and has to take two Dramamine before entering any moving vehicle.
21. I have more Instagram followers than he does.
22. He ripped up my copy of “Lean In.”
23. My grandma Dottie loves him and says he’s a “good, good boy.”
24. Every week it’s some new health issue: urine crystals, sprained foot, beef allergy.
25. He enjoys nature and I don’t, which would be fine except it’s important to share interests, and he also doesn’t like novellas, tag sales, or hip-hop dance.
26. He hates our upstairs neighbor Beverly and refuses to acknowledge her in the elevator, even if she tells him that she likes his haircut.
27. In fact, he has hair all over his body, like most males who share his background.
28. His best friend is named Archie.
29. He briefly dated another Lena, but she was black and a runner.
30. Bald men trigger a primal fear in him.
31. In addition, he is openly hostile toward the Hasidic community, focussing most of his rage on their bulky (but chic) fur hats.
32. He has an obsession with bellhops that is troubling to me.
33. One spring afternoon, we walked to Dumbo to check out a new artisanal-Popsicle stand, when we ran into my friend Jill. Jill is actually more of an acquaintance—I don’t know her well, but I really like her; she curates high-end terrariums and she’s a clog designer on the side. She’s really slim and well dressed, in an all-American, J. Crew-model sort of way. He was immediately all over her, panting and making a fool of himself. It was humiliating. Because here’s the thing: I am not a Jill. I will never be a Jill. And if that’s what he is looking for—some anorexic hipster with a glossy braid and freaking Swedish clog boots she sewed by hand—he should never have set his sights on me in the first place.
34. He once vomited on his seatmate in United business class, then ran up and down the aisle in a panic.
35. He’s adopted.
Isn’t she so witty?