One Friday night after Shabbat services at Beth Chaim Chadashim, the gay synagogue, he approached me at the refreshment table. "Boomer, vi geyt es du?" he said. "Ken ikh fregn ir epes?"
Sometimes people spoke to me in Yiddish to feel me out, see if I was one of them. But Gershom knew I wasn't Jewish. He was in his 30s, tall and slim, with curly black hair, thick eyebrows, sensual lips, and a scraggly beard. He always came to Shabbat services in a suit, even in L.A. heat, and wore a prayer shawl for davening.
"No comprendo," I said in Spanish.
"Sorry, sorry." He grinned. "I go back to Yiddish when I'm nervous. Let's take a walk outside, ok?"
Curious, I followed him out onto bustling Pico Boulevard. "What's up?"
"Well...you know Bernard and I broke up a few weeks ago."
I didn't know, but I nodded.
"We started dating almost the moment I got to West Hollywood. Eight years we were together, and totally monogamous, no sharing."
Where was this going? Was he cruising me?
"Well, there are lots of cute guys at the synagogue," I said. "As soon as word gets around that you're available, they'll be knocking on your door."
"That's the thing. At work there's a new guy, Nathan, a blond angel, so cute I can't stand it! And smart -- he speaks five languages. And he's cruising me constantly. And yesterday he asks me out! I'm thinking, 'my first date in eight years!' Where should we go? What should I wear? And then I get all ferblunjit.
"Sounds great. What's the problem?"
"The problem is, he's goyische -- a Gentile!"
"So what? You're not prejudiced, are you?"
"Well -- you see I'm not very experienced. I've only been with four guys before, other than Bernard, and none of them were Gentiles."
How was that possible? But, I figured, he grew up in Brooklyn's Hasidic community and now lived in the heart of L.A.'s Jewish neighborhood. He had a job in a travel agency that specialized in flights to Israel. His entire social life revolved around the synagogue and the Gay Jewish Alliance. How would he meet anyone non-Jewish?
"Well, that's the problem... you don't get a bris, you're nischt mie -- uncut, right?" He looked down at my crotch.
I instinctively covered it with my hand. "Right, I'm uncut, but circumcision is pretty common for Americans. I wouldn't worry..."
"Boomer, Nathan isn't American, he's French! From Marseilles!"
"Ok, then, he's probably uncut, but what's the difference? It's still a penis."
"What's the difference, oy -- what if seeing one makes me sick? The date will be ruined!" He looked down at the sidewalk. "Nu, I was wondering..."
The rest of the story, with uncensored photos, is on Tales of West Hollywood.