“Can I get you anything, Rina?”
It was definitely a bad sign if the waiter at Mendy’s knows your name. It’s probably means that you’ve been there too often, and perhaps with too many different men.
But as she sat at her table waiting for her present prospect to return from the restroom she felt hopeful.
Yitz was the fifth guy she had been out with in the last three months. The dates were all okay. Just nothing special. But there was something about this guy that she liked. Was he charming? Not particularly. Handsome? He wasn’t terrible looking, but nothing to write home about. But there was definitely something. She just couldn’t put her finger on it.
Then it hit her. He was funny. But not just funny. He was sardonic. Like her four brothers. And her two sisters. And her father. Even her mother was a bit sarcastic. She just felt comfortable with him.
But that really wasn’t enough to base a relationship on. She needed more. She needed to know that he was “the one.” But do you know something like that? How does anyone ever know?
Then it hit her. It was so obvious. It was right there in that week’s parsha.
She needed a sign.
Just like Eliezer, Avraham’s servant. When he was searching for a wife for Yitzchak he looked for a sign too. Whichever woman gave him water at the well and then also offered water to his camels was the one. Clearly that showed kindness, and perhaps an independent streak. Or maybe it was just an indication from God that he was on the right track. Either way, it seemed like the thing to do.
So she needed a little nudge, to let her know she was going in the right direction..
OK, sounds easy enough.
When Yitz came back from the bathroom, if he put his napkin on his lap, that would be the sign. It would indicate refinement.
Yitz returned and plopped himself back in his chair. The appetizers had arrived and he dug into his buffalo wings. Not only did he not put his napkin on his lap, he got barbeque sauce all over his face and missed a spot when he cleaned it off. Rina licked the corner of her lip, hoping he would catch her cue, but he did not. The sauce remained.
Perhaps manners were not a good criterion. No, of course they weren’t. How superficial of her! She decided to test for kindness.
Rina asked him about Ricky, their waiter (yes, she knew his name, too). Nice guy. Good service. Yes?
No. Too slow. Discourteous. Wings were cold.
Well, perhaps the service had been a little slow. Maybe Yitz was right.
This was not going as planned. But still she needed a sign. Something definitive. Giants versus Jets? No. That was certainly important, but not something on which to base a long-term relationship. Democrat versus Republican? Do not go there. Then it hit her. Why didn’t she think of it before?
She picked up her glass of water and chugged it down, clear down to the bottom.
“Wow, you’re a thirsty one, aren’t you?”
“Yes, yes I am. It’s unseasonably hot out there, wouldn’t you say?”
“I suppose so.”
“But what I really need is more water.”
Yitz looked around the restaurant, but Ricky was nowhere to be found.
“Hmm, that waiter is never around when you need him.”
“Yes, but I’m so, so thirsty. Can I have some water from your jug, er, glass?”
“I don’t think so, Rina. Germs and all that.”
“Can’t you just pour some from your glass into mine?”
“I’m sure the waiter will be back any minute.”
According to the Torah, Rivka seemed to be the first one who came along. Yes, she was very fair to look upon. But she was also kind. And so much more. But what would Damesek Eliezer have done if she hadn’t given him water, or if a less kind woman had come along first?
He probably would have waited for the next woman.
“Ricky? Check, please.”
By Larry Stiefel
Larry Stiefel is a pediatrician at Tenafly Pediatrics.