It’s a funny story, actually. But like, in a wow-that’s-fucked-up kind of way.
The scene is the summer of 2018, freshman orientation week at Ithaca College. Single and ready to mingle, I downloaded Tinder. Sean*, a senior at IC, was the first person I matched with, and the first person to message me: “Hey, I know you’re underage, so if you ever need alcohol, I’ll buy it for you.” He had me at “alcohol.”
A few days later I took Sean up on his offer and asked him if he could supply my underage friends and me with some booze. I was scared to go into a stranger’s car alone, so my roommate came with me. That was the first time Sean and I hung out (if you can call it a hang out) before our first date, when we watched Schindler’s List. I know, I know — that should’ve been the first red flag. I don’t quite remember how it came about, but I mentioned I’d never seen the classic Holocaust film, so he suggested we watch it. I just wanted to Netflix and chill, so I agreed.
After that, we went from talking everyday to essentially dating. We weren’t social media boyfriend-girlfriend official, but we were exclusive.
Sean wasn’t the first non-Jewish guy I dated, so when I brought him home to meet my parents and grandparents, they weren’t shocked. Of course, they’d prefer to see me with a member of the tribe, but Sean was very supportive of my Judaism. He’d encourage me to go to synagogue and to celebrate all the Jewish holidays. When I started a Birthright application for a trip over winter break, I even suggested he come with me. He was really into the idea of visiting Israel, but, of course, being that he’s not Jewish, he wasn’t eligible.
Fast forward four months to spring break, and (spoiler alert!!) this is when shit really went down.
I was at home in Boston — crazy spring break, I know — when I got a text from Sean who was partying in New York City. “I’ve been in jail all night,” he said. Freaking out, I asked him what he was talking about. He rambled on about “they claim it was anti-Semitic, and it was vandalism” and that he “didn’t write anything anti-Semitic on the wall.” Shocked, but not an idiot, I didn’t play dumb. I told him he couldn’t be charged with a felony hate crime unless he wrote something anti-Semitic. It wasn’t until 24 hours after the incident that I got the full truth out of Sean. He got into a spat with a Jewish bartender and wrote “get out” with a swastika on the wall of the bar. His bullshit apology was that he swore he wasn’t anti-Semitic, but the proof is in the pudding. I broke up with him instantly.
I was mad. Mostly, I was shocked. I brought him to meet my sweet, Jewish grandparents, for goodness sake! I couldn’t tell them, and initially I didn’t tell my parents either. It was embarrassing, and I knew they’d say “you should be dating a Jewish boy!” When I did tell my mom, she was as shocked as I was. Justice was served, though, because Sean was charged with community service and went to much-needed court-mandated therapy. I didn’t hear from him after the whole shanda, but I creeped on his social media and saw that he couldn’t hold a job because of his criminal record. Sorry not sorry.
Immediately after Sean told me the truth, I texted my friends, “I’ve been sleeping with the enemy,” which, the silver lining of it all, has been kind of a running joke ever since. In all seriousness, the real silver lining is that my attitude towards dating has changed. I still get romantically involved with people who aren’t Jewish, but I vet them more carefully.
But the biggest lesson I learned? If a non-Jew suggests watching Schindler’s List on the first date, run far, far away.
What a fucking schmuck.
*Name has been changed to protect the schmuck.