On the first day of Sociology class my junior year of college, I arrived a few minutes early. Selecting a seat at the back of the auditorium, I quietly read my bible. Soon I was interrupted by a tap on my shoulder and a voice that chirped, “Whatcha readin’?”
This intrusion by a complete stranger felt rude and startling. Upon turning around, I’m embarrassed to say my annoyance quickly evaporated when I saw that the person who interrupted me was a guy, and he happened to be quite attractive.
From the get-go, he assumed I was one of those nerdy Jesus Freaks. He nicknamed me “Christian Nerd,” which eventually got shortened to just “Nerd.”
I couldn’t come up with any clever nicknames for him so I just called him by his given name: Ryan.
Every day he would sit next to me, and every day he would greet me with, “What’s up, Nerd? Save any souls lately?” I always brushed him off, but was oddly flattered that my spiritual devotion was recognized in such a way that didn’t make him want to run in the opposite direction. When I used to tell people I wanted to be a rabbi, one of two things would happen next: they would be very interested and want to know more, or wonder what planet I just landed from.
Ryan seemed to have me all figured out within the first week of class. He thought I was from a family of devout Christian Republicans who home-schooled me, forbid me to wear makeup, listen to secular music, go on dates, or see any movie rated higher than PG.
I didn’t have the heart to tell him I was descended from a long line of liberal Jews who always voted Democrat, drank, cursed, and believed the only unforgivable sin was rooting against the New York Yankees.
He was funny at first, but the constant heckling about my apparent prude-like ways was starting to get old fast.
Then one day he asked for my number, which led to asking me out for lunch after class. I let his good looks get in the way of my good judgment by saying yes.
Meeting for lunch at Wendy’s after class became a tradition, until one day he informed me that, while I was cute and all, he didn’t see me as a potential girlfriend because I was…wait for it…too Christian for him.
Barely a year before, Steve from Hillel had told me I was “too Jewish” for him. Go figure.
Excerpted from Confessions of a Prodigal Daughter.