Flora and Eve had been friends for some time, though Eve had never met Flora’s brother Edwin since he was away at Harvard. He enjoyed his studies and the company of five or six other Jewish men, but he didn’t have much social life aside from this. In the Harvard of the 1920’s Jews were not welcome at mainstream student events.
Meanwhile Eve, like Flora, was living at home in Brooklyn and attending NYU. Eve was dating a charming, intelligent, handsome young man who seemed to have a bright future. She enjoyed her boyfriend’s company very much, but she was troubled because according to everything she’d heard about romance, she was not in love with him. He was already hinting about getting engaged.
One night, Eve was at Flora’s house on Stratford Road. Like many of Flora’s friends, she found herself confiding her troubles to Flora’s parents, Charlotte and Joseph. They were all sitting in the living room drinking tea and eating Charlotte’s wonderful babka. “Maybe I’ll never have another chance to get married,” Eve said. She was not a beautiful girl and was also highly intelligent—and she knew what that could mean. “Or maybe I’m just not the ‘falling-in-love’ type.”
Joseph looked at her carefully as she spoke, the way he always listened to everyone. Flora thought how difficult, how delicate it was to advise people about matters of the heart. Words did not often fail Charlotte, but that evening she sat fiddling with the teapot and looking concerned, as if she were having difficulty composing the right response.
But Joseph did not hesitate to deliver his judgement: “You don’t have to settle for that,” he told Eve with complete certainty. “You’ll fall in love with someone else eventually.” Flora and Charlotte looked at each other in wonder. Eve took his advice to heart and broke up with her handsome, charming boyfriend.
Not long afterwards, Flora’s brother Edwin was home for the holidays, and Eve met him for the first time. They fell deeply in love. After they were married, everyone always joked about how Joseph had preserved Eve for Edwin. Joseph said he’d had no idea he was doing this.
Copyright © Leora Freedman 2014
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