By Luke Ford Chapter One Chapter Two  Chapter Three  Chapter Four Chapter Five  Chapter Six   Chapter Seven  Chapter Seven B  Chapter Eight   Chapter Nine  Chapter Ten  Chapter Eleven  Chapter Twelve 1994-1997 1997  1998 1998B 1999 2000 2001 2009


Single Jewish Female Tracy W. phoned me this evening. My new girlfriend Deb (not her real name) stayed in my room during our conversation. I asked Deb several times if she minded my talking with Tracy, who said she was 45.(Tracy's probably 25.) Deb said she was having too good of a time watching me interview another new woman in my life to stop me. I get a thrill out of talking to unknown available women who have Tracy's spunk.

After talking with Tracy, Deb and I walked into the kitchen.

"Luke's been talking with another single female," Deb laughed to my parents.

Des and Gill glared at me. It'd been my stepmother's first day back at work after three weeks off and she'd been greeted by a letter from my ex-girlfriend Lana (not her real name).

Lana spilled all the sexual dirt on me as her revenge for my going off with Deb.

"We know everything," said Gill, "including the bath that you and Lana took in your father's room."

We all sat silently.

"Would you like me to leave?" asked Deb.

"No," said Gill. "You should hear about the abominable way that Luke treats girls. He slept with Tien, then dumped her. He slept with Lana, then left her for you.

"If you, Deb, have problems with depression, Luke's only going to make you worse."

My father ungritted his teeth and spoke for the first time. "How you could go around speaking about ethical monotheism, yet do what you've done, is beyond me."

"What have I done that's unethical?" I challenged.

"You've used women, and you've used us by using our home for immorality," said dad.

I kept quiet. My parents had some good points. It is their home that I've used as a love nest. But they're over-reacting. I didn't rape or verbally deceive anyone. I only engaged in consentual intimacy and such stuff is generally none of my parents' business.

I don't remember Des and Gill ever being so upset.

I admit that I may have sinned, but I don't think that I deserve such hostile lines as - "You're either insane or evil."


My stepmother Gill had an hour-long lunch with Deb. My parents believe that by engaging in premarital sex, I've shamed them and risked my eternal salvation.

"And they probably regard Deb as the whore of Babylon," said Deb's friend Arthur a few days later.

Gill told Deb that my "problems" probably stem from my car accident in September, 1985. My head smashed against the steering wheel and I got many stitches. I never blanked out, however.

Right. My desire for sex comes from a blow to my head.

"He treats me with respect," said Gill. "I don't understand why he treats girls so badly. I feel like we've failed him as parents... I stayed home till he was 17, to look after him... And then he goes and..."

The best thing to come out of this dirty affair is that Deb has generally stuck by me. Our relationship's strengthened.

We've known each other since early May. I answered Deb's singles ad in the central Florida Jewish newspaper Heritage. She looked for someone 32-45, slender, intelligent, sensitive....

On August fourth, Deb flew to Sacramento and we met for the first time. In the three weeks we've been together, Deb's never doubted my slenderness. I weigh 125 pounds on my 6' frame.

I'm 27. She's almost 38. She went on disability five years ago because of similar health problems to mine. We both need to rest about half the day.


Dad dropped Deb and I off at the Sacramento airport this morning. His parting words to me were: "You've got the fires of Vesuvious inside you... and they will only be calmed by coming to Calvary."

Deb (not her real name) and I flew to Orlando, Florida. We had a wonderful flight - cuddling our way through six hours. But once at home, Deb's anxieties returned.

I developed a few anxieties of my own when Deb took her pet boa constrictor Buddy out of his cage and walked around the hourse with the five-foot long snake wrapped around her.

While unpacking my luggage, Deb found my address list of my friends and acquantainces. I had made no effort to hide it from her. The list included the names and phone numbers of several single females. Deb confiscated my list and I didn't get it all back for a week.

I sleep in the guest bedroom.

"If we can't sleep together," said Deb on that first Wednesday in her home, "how can we ever live together?"

I disagree. I'm a fragile sleeper who tosses and turns. I do better with my own bed and preferably my own room. Also, Deb and I both need plenty of privacy. Having separate rooms, therefore, may even help our relationship.

We eat our meals off a tiny wood table surrounded by dolls. Our placemats read "Love is kind."

In California, Deb became upset when I talked with other single women. "You've either gotta s--t or get off the pot," Deb told me. "You can't talk to me while you're still talking with other women."

"Okay," I agreed. "I wont talk to other women without your permission. I assume, however, that this deal goes both ways. You'll discontinue your relationships with single men like your previous lover MM. You'll have nothing to do with him without my presence or at least my permission."

"Of course," said Deb.

We weren't back in Orlando 20 hours before Deb phoned MM.

The only photo of a man in Deb's room of which I'm aware, is of MM. It's only a wallet size photo. It resides with nuts, bolts, marbles and baubles in a gift box on a table by Deb's bed. The box reads: "Russell Stover Candies - Only the finest home fashioned assorted chocolates..." Deb's favorite candy is chocolate.

Deb has no photo of me displayed in her home and no photo of me of which I am aware, in her room.

[3/94: For the sake of Deb's privacy, I'm minimizing my description of the painful fights between us.]

I've decided to place singles ads.


Deb and I met with her shrink Dr G. I like him. He told us not to worry about making gameplans for the future. Instead we should concentrate on enjoying each other in the present. "Be puppies," he advised. "Everything else will follow naturally."


Deb and I sat through a three-hour traditional service at her Conservative synagogue Ohev Shalom. I told Deb a couple of months ago that she could pick a shul for us. That helped encourage her to go back to synagogue for the first time in years.

After services, I got into passionate discussions with Rabbi Rubinger and with orthodox Jew Asher Arzouane and his mom. Asher comes from a long line of Moroccan rabbis but he's a nutritionist.

Deb and I returned home around 4PM. Exhausted from being with people all day, Deb went into her room, shut the door and slept.

Invigorated from being with people all day, I got on the phone with my local Christian friend Joanne Boleman. In the next few days, I'd talk with other local friends and acquaintances such as Doug and Ken Moorehead, and Lesley Dolby.


Deb and I enjoyed a brunch at Ohev Shalom for potential members of the Conservative synagogue. I made friends.

On a tour of the facility, our guide showed us the chuppah (wedding canopy). Deb jumped back in fright. She's marriage-phobic.


Deb and I enjoyed a great service and lunch at Ohev Shalom. Afterwards, we checked out a few books and CDs from the superb Orlando Public Library.

While Deb slept for three hours, I read.

In the mail, came a note from Rachael M, a single female acquaintance of mine whom I haven't heard from in eight months. She writes that I'm "a very talented writer and deep thinker as well as an interesting thought-provoking person." But she doesn't want to hear from me anymore.


Deb and I attended an Outdoors and Active picnic this Labor Day. I eventually paired off with fundamentalist Christian Kate. We hit it off because we shared much common ground - interests in contourology, theology, Woody Allen, books, sexual morality, psychology; particularly the Rational-Emotive Therapy of Albert Ellis.

How essential are common pursuits in a relationship? I say that only a few are needed while Deb says many are needed.

Deb spent most of her time at the picnic with INTJs (in the Myers-Briggs personality test). Most of them are computer programmers - an area that Deb knows much about and I know almost nothing.


My 42-year old schizophrenic bi-polar MS friend Jenny (not her real name) writes to me from San Francisco:

I had a surprising dream in which you were a character.

I was in a coffee shop "making better people" or just having friendships. I saw you and called your name. You must have been startled by the instant recognition. I got up to greet you and lost sight of you. When I got to where you had been sitting, you had vanished, leaving behind an open portfolio of my paintings. You'd been with Deb. She was Chinese.

The only thing difficult to figure out about that dream is the ending. Debbie is a pale Jew. My first lover was Chinese.

My relationship with Deb is steadying. We're eating more meals together and almost every evening we watch a movie.


My best friend Jules Zentner writes to me from UCLA.

Was confused by your reports of Lana first breaking it off, then reconsidering...finally writing the letter that she did. The latter was deeply disappointing and disturbing. Why would she do a thing like that? Hurting innocent third parties is a difficult thought for me.


I've had a good week with Deb. I'm doing more things that she likes - such as driving around town with her, accompanying her on errands and visits to friends, watching movies, preparing the simple foods she likes and eating them with her, working around the house (vacuuming, mopping, mowing, trimming etc).

We're going to look for a local doctor for me. I may be staying a while.

My father phoned this afternoon. It's the first time that I've talked to my parents in almost three weeks.


Deb had a bad night. She listened to Dennis Prager tapes on relationships and they irritated her. Deb told me this morning that Prager and I are biased against women.

Prager says that what a man most wants in a romantic relationship is femininity, and that he be the most important thing in the woman's life. What women want, however, is more complex - that the man be ambitious, assertive, aggressive, driven, successful while at the same time being intimately involved in her life and that of the children, friends and community. Women want men who are highly sexed, but monogamous...Sensitive but not weak...

"I understand that Prager must speak in generalities," said Deb this morning, "but I don't think his views on men and women are any more valid than any other person's views...I understand that you are a child in your Judaism, and that Prager is a father to you, but I hope that soon you'll look for other mentors.

"We should both admit," says Deb, "that we both have a strong need to feel superior to people...We like to flaunt our inteligence...Speak down to people... We resent it when anyone speaks down to us...Call us anything - mean, awkward, socially retarded...but don't call us stupid."

That's a good point, but I didn't feel like admitting it this morning.

Deb's friend Reed, who is a good friend of MM, came over this afternoon to get three pairs of pants worked on by Deb, and to install some new computer software on Deb's IBM. Deb arranged for the computer help primarily for my sake.

This evening is Rosh Hashanah - the start of the Jewish New Year 5754. I brought it in alone (Deb was out shopping for Diet Pepsi) by eating an apple doused in honey. It symbolizes hope for a sweet new year.


After attending synagogue, Deb slept through the afternoon and I read Rabbi Leo Baeck's Judaism and Christianity. I also read this letter to me from my father's Christian friend, Mike.

I was very impressed with your conviction that the Lord has special plans for you. I am very sure that you are right. Your intimacy indicates this. Many fear baring their souls for the world to see. It takes courage to look at yourself critically and then share it with others. Your pain as expressed also indicates this conviction of yours. All the great names of the Jewish scripture - Sarah, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Ruth, David, suffered before coming into their greatness.

As you shared your experience of frustration with finding Jewish friends that will help you learn about the faith of Abraham, I thought of Ruth. She spent years demonstrating her faith in the God of Israel. Her song is deep with an understanding of covenantal faithfulness but she was regarded simply as a Moabite, an alien, till the end, even though God saw fit to provide through her a seed of royalty, the great King David.

Ruth was written during the period of Judges. Judges was depicted as if similar to the American period of the Wild West where, "every one did what was right in their own eyes." With this in mind, Ruth speaks of the covenantal faithfulness of a gentile and the few of lineage who recognize and support her. This is in stark contrast to the spirit of the faithless chosen people of her time, those who trust in their lineage.

Keep in mind who you are, both to God and to them, and you will not be disappointed. Be faithful.

"That letter couldn't have come at a better time," said Deb.

"Perhaps God does intervene in daily life," I replied.


After services this morning at Congregation Ohev Shalom, I got into a long passionate discussion with Rabbi Rubinger about whether services make a good case for Judaism. I said that I doubted that hours of ritualized prayer would convince most people that a Jewish life was worth living. Rabbi Rubinger, congregation president Sandy, and others who gathered around, including Deb, vehemently disagreed.

Afterwards Deb reproved me for being too forward with my opinions. She said that I didn't understand Judaism, and that I had no sympathy for the hard work of the rabbi and cantor. The High Holy Days are not the time for my criticisms. Our new friends at the synagogue will resent us.

Deb and I spent the afternoon with a couple in their mid-20s - Francisco and Elizabeth Vargas, who are Jews by Choice.


If my commitment to our relationship is like my commitment to Judaism, then we're in trouble, says Deb.


After a smooth weekend with Deb, I received an avalanche of mail this morning. First, I opened the letter from my best friend Jules Zentner.

Thanks for the 14 incredibly candid pages...

I hardly know how to respond...I am impressed with the candor with which you describe humiliations...shortcomings. I'm heartened to hear of the good times you have [with Deb] and of your often mentioned appreciation of Deb.But I'm also saddened by the difficult times you both have...

...Your parents were very kind to me [during Jules' four-day stay with me 12/91] and I have always regretted (although I understand the reasons why) that things have been so difficult between you and your father. It was wonderful to hear of his assurance on your leaving that had "loved you for 27 years" and still does...His letter appeared to be a very honest effort to describe how he felt, and, given his religious beliefs, his wish that you become "whole."...Your stepmother [Gill] wrote me, indicating her confusion, hurt, and concern for you. Given their Christian faith and thus a belief that you have done wrong, your parents were struggling to absolve you of responsibility both for those wrongs and for the anger and hurt they felt, by blaming your ill health.

My basic point is that you are a good person who has tried to find ways to better yourself and others. I think that both your father and stepmother can be similarly described (...Deb too). When there are so many people of ill will who do not care if they harm others, why must good people make other good people suffer so much? What you, your parents, and Deb are suffering from and are making each other suffer from are the flaws you perceive in one another's behaviour and beliefs. Why do these absorb your emotional and other energies more than the actual injustice and evil in the world? Once you decide that someone has personal worth, isn't it possible to bend your mind and heart to reach an accommodation with that person, despite your faults and theirs?

Jenny writes from San Francisco.

What a shrewd creature you; to discover a creature of habit, establish a relationship, move away, probably marry someone else, and leave your new friend starving for the intellectual satisfaction of contact with you. Shrewd and unwise. A very bad move as a new Jew in celebration of the High Holy Days. Does God revoke statements of being well pleased in you? I revoke the pleasure I took in you but you know that I am not God.

I am staying busy and not dwelling on the fact that I have been graduated from St. Luke's Adult Day Health program...I don't imagine that you and Deb are having endless sessions of personally gratifyig sex. I imagine your road is equally hard as my own, that I have FRIGHTENED you and you are hiding from me.

Give my love to Deb, reminding her that everybody faces the life-threatening risks of the uncertainty she gets from CHRONES DISEASE.

I apologize for not giving your book the attention I'm sure it deserves. You are the second in my accumulation of adult orphans. An orphan is an orphan is always an orphan.

I remain your beleaguered correspondent and cheerful friend. I still believe in you, you, you.

Jenny, I'll post this week my first letter and tape to you in over a month.

[3/94: I've never heard again from Jenny.]

Also in my mail today, the latest issue of Jewish Ties with my ten-page essay on my journey to Judaism in the middle of the newsletter.

I showed it to Deb after she got home from shopping but she wasn't interested.

Deb bought me three pairs of shorts and a shirt. Nothing for herself. Overall, Deb's bought over $200 worth of clothes for me, paid for over $700 worth of long distance phone calls, a $100 electric shaver, a $45 Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), a $363 plane ticket to California, and other gifts. Deb spent hours making a beaded book cover for the Tanakh and, at my request, a transvestite Teddy Bear in black fishnet stockings. Deb's more generous than I am.


My brother Paul phoned from Australia. He's booking a flight to visit me in Orlando January 9-12 1994.

By Luke Ford Chapter One Chapter Two  Chapter Three  Chapter Four Chapter Five  Chapter Six   Chapter Seven  Chapter Seven B  Chapter Eight   Chapter Nine  Chapter Ten  Chapter Eleven  Chapter Twelve 1994-1997 1997  1998 1998B 1999 2000 2001 2009