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 Part II: the back story

It’s important to see how Mr. Apron came into my life because he was so instrumental in supporting me on my journey into and out of brain surgery and recovery. 

Of course we met on jdate.  Two stunningly attractive, Jewish, fresh-out-of-college BPs (beautiful people) with Bachelor’s degrees, unfulfilling jobs in retail and entertainment, respectively, and a touch of loneliness.  Respectively.  I had listed my profile in July of 2002 out of boredom while at a summer architecture program with nearly unlimited access to late-model computers with high-speed Internet access.  I used jdate mostly for “baiting”, a favorite pastime of recent Brandeis graduates looking for other Brandeis graduates who are pitiful enough to have profiles on jdate.  Mr. Apron posted his profile (RoyalTenen) in August 2002 after much urging from his best friend, David.  David needed Mr. Apron to create a profile so that he, Mr. Apron, could view all the women that he, David, had “hot listed”.  In February of 2003, Mr. Apron updated his profile, allowing jdate to market RoyalTenen as a highlighted user on the left part of the screen.  While the handle RoyalTenen may have referred to the movie of the same name, it immediately caught my eye because of the explicit similarity to my maiden name.  And so I clicked. 

One cannot say the rest was history.  I read and reread the profile of the seemingly incongruous RoyalTenen, viewed a picture of him sniffing sunflowers, and I took in his location: Wayne, PA.  Now, I knew that from Pittsburgh, where I was stationed, to Philadelphia, was a good six-hour drive clear across the state.  I did not, however, have the slightest clue where Wayne was, but I figured it had to be closer than Philly.  It is, by approximately 18.73 miles.  At this point, I was optimistic, and didn’t do any driving calculations until later.  I vacillated about contacting this strange man.  She consulted with trusted advisors from Brandeis, and finally took the plunge. 

Now, like many Brandeisians who are on jdate almost exclusively for baiting (excepting those who find their B’sherets there), I was too cheap to pay for membership from jdate.  I was allowed to ogle, to “hot list” cute boys from Muhlenberg, and to reply to others’ correspondence, I she could not initiate sweet nothings with RoyalTenen.  So I subverted the jdate paradigm, and craftily embedded my e-mail address into the text of my profile, where it stayed, at least for 48 hours, when those evil jdate higher-ups found it and deleted it.  I “hot listed” Mr. Apron, which would send him a high-priority alert that he was being stalked.  Curious about which bitchin’ Ashkenazi broad had discovered his true hot-ness, Mr. Apron took the bait.  And found me. 

Over the course of that weekend, I was snowed into a Shabbat across America with a vegetarian Chabad-Lubavitch family in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh.  Mr. Apron was snowed into the third-floor semi-loft attic apartment at in Wayne, PA.  He vacillated and consulted with his trusted advisor David.  And took the plunge.  Mr. Apron e-mailed me. 

Dear A*****,
What's happening?  This is Mr. Apron, or "RoyalTenen" from the "Jdate Social Misfit Kleenex Klub."  Flattered and all that I've made it to your undoubtedly prestigious Hot List, as usually I have little trouble in making it onto other peoples' list of a different nature.
So, what's the deal, Lady?  Why Pittsburgh?  I mean, is Filthy McNasty's really that great of an attraction.  In Philly, we have a restaurant called "Rotten Ralph's"-- I mean, same idea, you know?  So we don't have Carnegie Mellon or that big, stupid boat that goes cruising along whatever river it is that old people get drunk on... whatever, you know!
So... tell me about yourself.  I will read what you write and write back, making frightfully witty comments about your dog's name and the way you paint your nails.  And you can ask me questions about myself.  Guys just love that shit.
--Mr. Apron

And thus read the first in an unending series of e-mails, which grew exponentially longer, from an innocuous 2k, to 9k, to 14k, and one might say it stabilized at the length at which Mr. Apron and I started to develop carpal tunnel and glazed eyes after typing and reading each e-mail.  At this point, the move to AOL’s ubiquitous Instant Messenger was suggested, and we eagerly accepted the prompt.  Endless nights reached towards 3am, necessitating that I upgrade to a more expensive ISP, and resulted in Mr. Apron’s falling asleep at work. 

By this point, packages of old-fashioned type-written notes, and old-fashioned home-made pumpkin bread had been flying back and forth between Pittsburgh and Wayne with alarming frequency since approximately 3 days after the first fateful e-mail.  So intuitive were the visceral feelings we felt ourselves developing, so comfortable was the trust we already shared, that Mr. Apron sent me his childhood Quilty Piece.  The QP, as it is now called, is a grayish rag that used to be a baby blanket.  Not the usual mix-tape or bouquet of flowers…While I was at first greatly puzzled by this gesture (honestly, it’s still an enigma), and my royal advisors quickly determined Mr. Apron was some sort of fetishist, I  nurtured this burgeoning relationship, unsure of the gray, sour-smelling rag, but growing increasingly sure of the man who sent it to me.  One day, while carefully removing a return-address label from an early package from Mr. Apron in preparation for its reuse in a missive to him, I absent-mindedly flipped over the rectangle of paper.  It was an incomplete business card containing partial personal information of none other than Mr. Apron.  Wouldn’t it be funny, I mused, if the To: address label was written on the back of a complete business card?

You know it did.  You know I now had his carefully guarded telephone number.  And you know I finally got up the courage to call the number on that card.  While it led to the home of Mr. Apron’s parents, and not the personal cell phone of Mr. Apron, it nonetheless opened the door for us to let down our guards about our anxious telephone voices.  We were able to venture into a world with no “delete” key and no “send” button.  The late-night Instant Messenger conversations gave way to late-night/early morning (Cingular’s free nights start at 9pm after all) telephone conversations, with me curled up on her yellow loveseat cradling the portable until the charge ran out, and Mr. Apron faithfully talking to me for the duration of his return trips from visiting David in New York City. 

By April, it had quickly become clear that this budding relationship had come to a head.  I needed to meet Mr. Apron in person, if for no reason other than to establish that neither of us was a 60-year-old Chinese woman.  In the end, all Internet relationships have the potential to be skeevy.  In reality, we needed to know if the other was as wonderful, compassionate, witty, and articulate as with the written word.  Or, in other words, “nice, smart, and funny”.