Do any of you watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel? One of the current storylines reminded me of a long-forgotten (subconsciously buried?) episode in my own life.
In the show, Joel’s interfering mother keeps trying to set him up with a “nice, appropriate, Jewish girl”, while he is secretly dating medical student Mei Lin, whose parents are the landlords of his Chinatown nightclub.
It was the 70s. I was in my early twenties, living in Manhattan, and had been seriously dating a Canadian artist for about a year who was not remotely Jewish and therefore not even borderline acceptable to my parents as a potential suitor despite his charm and talent.
My mother– never the most open-minded of people — opposed him sight unseen and started a campaign to “help” me come to my senses. This mostly took the form of not-so-subtle hints and comments. Then, one day, she learned that a neighbor’s father was in the hospital and his doctor was single and Jewish. Jackpot! My mother, never having met the man herself and knowing nothing else about him, told her neighbor to give the doctor my phone number — needless to say without my permission — even though she knew I was in a relationship.
I was livid. But it wasn’t the poor guy’s fault, so when he called I agreed to meet him for coffee.
Was he Prince Charming? Not in the least. I found him unattractive, timid, too old, and boring, and we had nothing in common except the same religion. I daresay he was not drawn to me either.
Ultimately, the artist and I broke up — for reasons having nothing to do with our families. But I’d learned my lesson: Keep my private life private unless I wanted to endure a boatload more unsolicited advice.
As a parent, I know it’s hard to see our kids making choices we feel are wrong for them. But unless their latest love interest is a criminal mastermind or serial killer, it seems wise to stay out of their relationships unless they ask for our opinions.
Who knows? With a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T, they might even listen.