My dear friend, Shana, called me this past Spring (2011). “Anita, oh, my god. I need to talk to you. I’m in love!” she beamed over the phone. “Oh my gosh, where do I begin? He’s tall, sexy, has this awesome accent, he’s a nice Jewish man and even loves to cook! Anita, he’s just amazing. I’m so comfortable with him, and he’s become my best friend.” She sounded so happy. I had a huge smile on my face listening to her, feeling her joy in being with a man who wanted to love her as much as she knew she could love him.
Two years before, she was recovering from trying to make sense out of being a single mom after her divorce. She dated, met many different types of men and tried online dating services, but things just didn’t work out for her. Well, until she met Sam, our next Male Panelist for The Dating GPS™.
Shana and Sam invited me and my family to dinner at their home. We couldn’t wait to meet “Shana’s Sam.” When the door opened, we immediately saw exactly what she talked about regarding him. Sam was a tall, good-looking guy; he was friendly, and he loves Shana.
He spoke with an engaging Israeli accent,
I was born in Israel. Sam is my American name. My original name is Shmulik…
“Hi!” He said. “So, eh, come in, come in!” Sam walked us to their kitchen and poured a drink for all of us. He turned toward me. “So. Uh, tell me about, eh, you and Shana in college.”
When speaking with anyone who comes from a country outside the U.S., be it France, Greece, Russia, Italy, Israel, Spain, wherever, I’d commonly hear “eh,” “uh,” or “um” within their words and sentences – and to me, it’s delightful. I’m sure my Communications professor is cringing at my joy as these type of words are also used among my fellow Americans, and are considered filler words (usually frowned upon in speech).
I, however, get a different vibe when filler words are used by a person born abroad; instead, I gain an appreciation. I’m reminded that, though they do know English well, the country they came from remains lovingly tattooed on their tongues, and part of the blueprint that makes them who they are. With Sam, it doesn’t just tell me that he knows and understands a different language, but that he has, residing within his soul, the memories of another culture. Community. Way of life. He holds an ethnic golden thread woven wonderfully within his DNA, and he lives here in the United States to tell us about it. It’s like having a living show and tell for Americans who haven’t traveled abroad or experienced living in other countries outside of North America.
Sam is charming and kind; his deep Israeli-accented English is, in fact, quite butter-melty. He holds strength in character, and has a unique depth in his eyes. It’s the kind that speaks on its own, engaging in curiosity to know me and my husband’s story, independently and in union.
I was in the IDF [The Israel Defense Forces]…
Behind his eyes his depth runs deep, contained by heavy doors holding back oodles of amazing tales and history, but you’d have to pass a few tests to get the password to open those private doors. Sam was able to show a serious, analytical side, enough to survey and convince me that he is a spy, while asking me a few questions.
Shana never told me he was a spy!
He also has the ability to be a smart-alec kid if he wants to be, revealing just moments after that he was totally bullshitting me about being a spy, playing me to see if I’d buy into the b.s. See? He’s a handsome, kind, smart ass. But he impressed me by that little maneuver. I enjoy the handsome-kind-smart-ass combination. I married one. They like to give the mind a workout and know when to let go and have fun.
Shana and I answered Sam’s college question, sharing our stories of sorority life, friendship, relationships and my first experience with wax (that’s about as far as I’ll tell you). Sam listened, laughed, and contributed his fifty shekels, and the makings of a great night began. At dinner I watched Sam in the kitchen effortlessly putting food together for all of us. I reflected back to my childhood. Every party I attended with my parents had a certain pattern that took place at the party’s home: Parents and family friends entered the house and made their way to what I considered as their designated party areas. The typical set up: Men sat drinking and alpha-male bonding in the living or family room, women gossiped while cooking or assisting in the kitchen, and children were directed to the basement to play.
My eyes refocused back to the sight of Sam cooking: an alpha male contributing in the kitchen and happily being a part of his girlfriend’s world, wanting to meet me and my family as a whole. A refreshing sight. When asked what are some of his favorite things to do, Sam instantly replied,
I love cooking; it relaxes me.
Cooking relaxes him. Some people stress out over making dishes. Not Sam. It calms him to make a meal. Shana is a blessed woman to be in love with an alpha male, in the kitchen, lovingly whipping up incredible meals for their family. (Mazel tov, Shana!)
We all came around to the dinner table and enjoyed the time spent chewing and chatting. We talked and laughed, and then Sam looked at me and asked very matter-of-factly,
“So, you breast-feed?”
Wow, did he just go there, I thought? But we were a candid bunch, so I presumed no harm and began to answer.
“Um, well, actually, you know, I was having a tough time at the hospital, I tried for months and –”
I noticed Shana through my peripheral, waving her hand and exclaiming,
“Wait! Wait! Stop!”
Then Brian turned to me, smiled and added,
“‘Nita, I don’t think he asked if you breastfed.”
They both struggled, holding in much desired gaffaws.
“OHMYGOD….” I gasped.
I freaked. What did Sam ask me? I held my breath, looking confused and scared, wondering just how badly my ears translated his accented words. Shana looked at me, and with all the love she had in her heart, she broke the news to me,
“Anita, he didn’t ask if you were breast-feeding, he asked if you’re a BEARS fan.”
And the laughter that followed sounded like an audience of 20 people; special thanks to my major hearing malfunction.
Later I watched Sam walk over to the piano, by request of Shana. She wanted us to be witness to the chops Sam had when it came to playing and singing music. Wait. Sam plays music too? YES.
I love music. I have been playing piano since I was four.
As soon as his fingers met the keys, his spirit lifted to a different height. His eyes closed as he played on. His right and left brain worked in unison, sharing logic and entertaining us equally. Gave me goosebumps. I looked at Brian. Wow, we thought. He took “great guy” and multiplied it times 10. Sam played us a variety of music, and we’d tap our feet to the beat, while my daughter danced around the room. He asked us a couple of random questions about our daughter. We answered, and he followed with a completely improvised beautiful song dedicated to my little girl, filled with all the information I gave woven within the lyrics. Brought me to tears. I learned that he has reached some great heights with his ability to write and play music.
I wrote music for DATELINE NBC and just released an album with my band, Steel Chops.
Sam is divorced and a loving father of three children. He’s been down many roads in the relationship world, taking with him wisdom he’s acquired from those experiences. He’s learned rights and wrongs, and sticks to the basics of what matters in the grand scheme of gaining and keeping love alive. I asked him how he knew Shana was the one. His answer:
She makes me happy and peaceful inside.
What mattered to him was how she made him feel on the inside. Being with her gives him the feeling of happiness, and because of that, there is peace. Happiness and peace; two areas our world has struggled with since its inception, and through hard work and self-reflection is found between two people. He’s experienced war in the physical sense, being in the IDF, and understands war in the relationship sense, having been married and divorced. Peace is a big deal for Sam, knowing his history. What does he think it takes for a relationship to survive? Of all the words, he gave me a simple and powerful word.
Sam and Shana, both divorced and with their own children, found each other in a world where finding love seems to be the biggest hurdle in a busy person’s world. In the late Summer they shared with us their wonderful news of engagement, and just like The Brady Bunch family I grew to love in my childhood, I’m glad to be a witness to my friends’ union, and beginning of the Bassin Bunch, my new family who I get to grow with and love just as much.
A very happy ending ensues for two people who have been there, done that, and want to be there and do it again, but this time with each other, knowing the best is yet to come. Peace, respect, and happiness are found lovingly tucked into their incredible full home of joy.
I, too, am glad to have met Sam and to snag him to be one of our Male Panelists for The Dating GPS™.