In August of 2006, I moved to London and was promptly informed by a mutual friend in whispered tones, “You know that Josh just moved to London, right?” I hadn’t actually; Facebook wasn’t yet functioning as the gold standard by which we keep tallies on our exes. I thought it would be fun to see him, so I pulled his hotmail address out of an old email party invite. Why not? Our dating story was ancient history. Josh and I dated during the spring semester of freshman year in college, more than five years earlier.
At the time, I was a doe-eyed Minnesota girl who probably still smelled like daisies and warm milk. Josh was an Upper-East-Side Jew who had gone to all the right schools, which I had never heard of. For a full three-months we went on fantastically formal dates, and sometimes kissed. Our relationship culminated in dinner with his parents, who are elegant and lovely Manhattan-ites. I can still picture his slender mother dressed in laps of richly textured black silk juxtaposed to my fuzzy white sweater and puffy headband. To this day I think that Josh’s singular act of teenage rebellion was dating a shiksa like me.
Eventually, he got bored of the sometimes kissing and one evening he called it off. It was such amicable end that I felt comfortable emailing my fellow ex-pat/former flame upon arrival in London. To my unending delight, he responded and informed me that he already had a carefully selected ready-made group of friends into which I was invited.
On that first Friday night we started what became a yearlong tradition. At 7PM on Fridays, Josh, Anthony, Michelle, and I would meet at the White Lion Pub in Covent Garden. Josh and I never believed we would be helping to advance each other’s love lives with other people, but that’s exactly what happened by accident one evening. As life or Fate would have it, our Friday night meet-up evolved into relationship strategy sessions for the two of us before we’d hit the town.
This is how it happened. On Friday at 7:00 on the dot, Josh was the first to arrive at White Lion, so he sat waiting and doing the NY Times crossword. Just like Jerry sitting alone in the coffee shop waiting for his crew, he had no problem sitting by himself. But the couple next to Josh chatted him up with concern that he’d been stood up.
At 7:30, I was the next to arrive. I flew through the doors in characteristically chaotic fashion, with a disheveled mop of blond hair, spilling apologies all over the table. After a few calming sips of unladylike lager, I finally stop blabbering and let Josh have an edgewise word.
Josh took the opportunity to introduce me to our table neighbors. They were a pleasantly attractive couple and we had a laugh over their concern for Josh flying solo that night. When the gent went to get another round, the lady slipped away to the bathroom, and Josh immediately leaned in and said he wanted to ask her out. “What?! You can’t be serious, they’re obviously together,” I argued.
“No, I don’t think so. You gotta help me out!” He begged
When the attractive couple returned, Josh excused himself to make a fake call. That’s when the lady asked how we knew each other.
Here goes nothin’.
“Oh gosh, oh, well…” I feigned embarrassment, “Actually Josh and I used to date. But that was a very, very long time ago.” I continued, “Josh is just such a wonderful person: hilarious, charitable, intelligent, worldly. And since there is absolutely nothing between us, it’s been great to remain friends.”
The underlying text says: Have you met me? I’m sane, pretty, and exuberant – which means this guy is pre-vetted. I remembered the scene from Seinfeld when George scores dates by showing a picture of his dead fiancé as street cred that he’s datable. Well, it works in real life also. And that’s how we came up with our shtick.
Josh became the Jerry Seinfeld to my Elaine Benice and we were an unstoppable tag team for the next 10 months.