Meemaw’s been reading through my blog. She’s cool enough not to have said anything about me using the word “fuckin” as much as I do, but she did notice something. Nothing bad ever seems to happen to me, at least not since I broke up with Monica or the Dodgers lost the World Series. Don’t get the wrong impression: bad shit happens to me, same as it does to everyone else. Only I’m not the kind of dude who comes home and runs to his computer to complain about the jerkoffs he had to deal with. I don’t like to complain, and, besides, complaining is gay. Just ask Keaton lol.
So Meemaw suggested that I tell y’all about something bad that happened in the past. She said that wouldn’t be complaining; it’d just be telling y’all some more about myself.
So I’ll go back to one of the worst things I ever had to go through: my breakup with Shoshanah Rabinowitz. I’ve told y’all a little about Shoshanah, but you haven’t gotten the whole story yet. So here goes:
We started going out in the fall of our junior year at Maryville High. She was in my AP English class. We made an unlikely couple: you’d think a quarterback would be going out with a cheerleader or something. Instead I fell in love with a “smart” girl. (I didn’t use the quotes because Shoshanah wasn’t smart; she was super smart. But y’all know the difference between a cheerleader and a “smart” girl.)
Shoshanah was from one of the few Jewish families in Maryville. It’s not like there were no Jews where I grew up, but there weren’t a lot of them. There were more Jews in Knoxville, and that’s where the Rabinowitzes went to temple. They originally came from Buffalo, and moved down South the year before me and Shoshanah started dating. They made the move because of Mr. Rabinowitz’ job… and because they couldn’t take the cold winters up there anymore.
So me and Shoshanah started dating after our English teacher assigned us a scene for Miranda and Ferdinand from The Tempest to memorize and perform for the class. After we became a couple, we asked Mrs. Barnard if she’d put us together on purpose. She laughed and said that she always gave love scenes to kids she reckoned would never be boyfriend and girlfriend in real life. She messed up real bad with us lol.
I knew from the beginning that Shoshanah’s parents weren’t thrilled about me: not only wasn’t I Jewish…I was a jock too. They wanted Shoshanah to have a “smart” boyfriend. But they slowly got used to the idea of me, and even started including me in family events like the Passover seder.
We were 17 and in love. Like seriously in love like you can only be at that age. I can’t even really describe Shoshanah to you: all I can remember is thinking she was the most beautiful girl in the world. And, since y’all are probably wondering, yes, she was my first…although we were going out for nearly six months before that happened.
By the end of junior year we were real serious about each other. It got so that Turner and Gardner were getting pissed off that I was spending more time with Shoshanah than with them. That was the summer Sumter was playing with the Smokies, so every evening I wasn’t with Shoshanah I was at the ball park. I’m surprised I had any energy leftover to play ball myself. I think the three weeks I spent at baseball camp came as a relief almost: I sent Shoshanah a love letter every day…but at least I got to concentrate on one thing for a change.
Mom, Dad and Meemaw were all ok with my dating a Jewish girl. Much later on, Meemaw explained that they knew a high school thing when they saw one, and decided to let us have our first love until we went to different colleges and drifted apart naturally.
The Rabinowitzes didn’t see it that way. Before the summer was over they stopped including me in things, and they were a whole lot less friendly to me than they were in the past. I got the idea pretty quickly – and that’s when me and Shoshanah started seeing ourselves as Romeo and Juliet.
Shoshanah and her parents had a lot of fights about me, and she told me what it was that her parents so worried. She tried to explain to them that there was absolutely no danger of us running away and her getting married to a non-Jew. We both wanted to go to college, and weren’t even applying to any of the same schools. She wanted to go back up north (she ended up going to Brandeis), and I wanted to stay in the south and go as far as a baseball scholarship would take me (that meant Middle Tennessee State, as y’all already know.) Sure, we talked about me going up and visiting her on weekends, but I think part of both of us knew we didn’t have much a future beyond graduation.
So, like I said, and like Shoshanah kept trying to explain, there was nothing for her parents to be worried about.
There was no reason to be worried about the other thing they were worried about, which was me getting Shoshanah pregnant. I already told you that Dad made it extremely clear that he’d kill me dead if I got a girl pregnant. Dad even went with me to buy my first box of condoms. It was a little embarrassing standing there and having your Dad explain the difference between all the different kinds, but he made his point. I was super super careful back then, and I’m super super careful now. I even got shit in the locker room for being too careful. So Shoshanah couldn’t have been safer with any other boyfriend at Maryville High.
She couldn’t get her parents to understand that either. And, believe me, she kept trying.
Although the Rabinowitzes never told Shoshanah she couldn’t see me, they finally did start trying to break us up.
That’s where Jacob Bernstein came in.