Nathan started one of the first truly monolithic sites devoted to poetry—local event calendar, books, contests, you name it. That’s how I found out about him. He hosted a well-attended reading in the Valley that I’d never been to, but heard of. I especially liked the picture of him standing in the rec room of the school where he worked as a music instructor. And his list of likes included a number of things that seemed like a crazy coincidence…or FATE! I sent him an email. Which I still have. It should be noted that I had turned twenty less than two months prior to the incident I am about to relate. I was practically a teenager! And that I continually humiliate myself so that you may be amused, dear reader.

Based on my gushing, adolescent email (and much to my surprise) he wrote to me. We started IMing. Eventually, the IMs became…flirtatious. One night, he suggested that I come to his apartment (he managed the building; this was the reason he gave for being unable to come out and meet me somewhere) so we could have this conversation in person. I was hesitant, but he gave me a pep-talk about spontaneity and before I knew it I was on my way to Sherman Oaks.

When I got there, he was short. Not “a little short,” or “slightly below average.” He was an inch or two taller than I was. I’m a hair over five feet. Once I’d gotten past the initial shock of how skillfully he’d manipulated his pictures to make him appear taller, I was met with a new challenge: coping with his cats. There were several. And they were territorial. As they inspected me, Nathan pulled several of his self-published volumes from a shelf. He showed me a few, read from some, and let me hold one that was a limited edition…although he asked I refrain from opening it wide, he didn’t want the spine to crack.

I asked him to tell me a bit more about Hebrew traditions and customs. He asked me if I’d ever let him tie me to the kitchen table.

I suggested we go for a drink. He suggested he mix me one.

I told him I was tired. He told me I could lay down if I liked.

Turning off the light in the living room, he returned to my side on the futon couch with that certain look in his eye. Although I had just turned twenty, I felt about fifteen years old.

His petting was more violent than heavy. I had to stop him when shifted into “jackhammer” mode. For someone so much older than me (31 at the time, I believe), he hadn’t developed much in the way of finesse. He withdrew his hand and brought it up, attempting to slide his fingers beneath my nose.

“What the hell are you doing?!”

He looked surprised. “Well, I guess you don’t like that.”

“No, I guess I don’t.” Dipshit. I cited the hour and said goodnight, thinking only of the ice pack I’d put in my underwear once I got home.

He continued to IM me. There were many late night invitations to visit, but the kitchen table, the cats, and the jackhammer loomed in my memory. I told him at one point that I thought maybe we were looking for different things.

He said it was irrelevant what I was looking for; he could never be with a woman who wasn’t Jewish.

“You mean you couldn’t have sex with a non-Jewish woman? Are you not trying to have sex with me?”

“No, I mean that I could never marry her, so there’s no point in her ever being my girlfriend. I can totally have sex with you, I could just never date you.”

Good to know.

I ran into him a few times and various readings, I still get his group emails. In fact, I heard he recently got married.

To a nice Jewish girl, of course.