In his last letter he wrote about stars. He said in the Negev Desert at night he looked up and the sky was so clear he could swear he saw a billion stars.

He said he thought of me right there, wondering what I was doing under the same stars. My heart just about melted into garlic butter sauce (which I love to dip my pizza in) when I read his letter. Sometimes I feel like he has the right perspective on life. Me? Id probably look up at billions of stars and think, Im so insignificant.

I sit on my bed and open my backpack. There, staring back at me, is the personals section. I must have shoved it in there accidentally. I wipe my eyes and focus on the paper.

A small idea, as tiny as a faraway star, starts forming in the back of my mind.

If Mom and Marc can create their own little suburban family, Im going to create one of my own for my bachelor dad. . . right here in the city.

After all, whats wrong with placing a personal ad for my dad? Maybe, as Maria said, he could meet his own soul mate.

3

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Kosher question # 1: In Leviticus (11:1), God lists whats kosher and whats not. Nowhere in the entire Bible does it mention anything about spicy tuna sushi rolls with little pieces of tempura crunch inside.

***

Hunky, brooding single Jewish dad with an adorable teenage daughter seeks woman for dinners, dancing, and walks in the park. Needs to like dogs and be fee of any neurosis or hang-ups.

"Amy, Im home. And I brought sushi for you. "

I shove the draft into my backpack and rush for the door. Okay, okay, I know the ad needs a little tweaking. But Ill deal with that later. Sushi cant wait. "Did you get spicy tuna rolls?"

"Yes. "

I kiss him on the cheek and say, "Youre the best. Did you remember to ask for tempura flakes inside?"

"Sorry, I forgot. I hope theyre still edible. "

Hes joking with me because hes well aware Ill devour the spicy tuna rolls with or without the tempura crunch.

My dad is sifting through the mail by the front door. He lives for mail. Sundays he positively goes nuts not having any. When Monday rolls around, hes like a hawk.

I snatch the white takeout bag off the table by the front door. My mouth is already watering in anticipation of eating freshly made sushi. "How was work?"

"Hectic as usual. How was school?"

"Hectic as usual. "

He looks sideways at me.

"Well, it was," I say. "I had three tests, one I probably failed, two hours of homework, and I have no date for the Valentines Dance. Top that. "

We walk into the kitchen together. "Avi is in Israel," he says as if Im pining for a relationship thats bound to fail. Talk about the "like father, like daughter" syndrome.

"I know," I say.

My dad gives me a weak smile and shrugs. "I just dont want you to miss out. "

Mutt bounds into the kitchen and starts jumping on me. "Arg!"

"We have to get him fixed," he says.

I sit on the kitchen floor with Mutt and pat his springy hair. "We arent going to do that," I tell my dog. "Only mean people do that to their dogs. "

Mutt responds by licking my face. Theres no way Im having my dogs balls cut off.

My dad takes extra food for himself out of the refrigerator because he mistakingly treats sushi as an appetizer. He says sushi doesnt fill him up. "Amy.

I give him my I-am-not-backing-down stare. "What?"

"The vet said--"

"Yeah, and the vet thought Mutt was a goldendoodle, too. Can you believe that? A designer mutt, no less. I dont trust that guy. " Give me a break. My dog is a pure, unpoodleized mutt.

My dad takes a piece of pita and swipes it into a container of hummus. Its his staple food. Israelis are to hummus as frat boys are to beer. (Weve been studying analogies in English. Can you tell?)

"Dont double dip," I warn him.

"I wouldnt dream of it," he says, stuffing the pita into his mouth.

"Maybe you havent had a date in a while because you shove food into your mouth when you eat," I say.

"Maybe I havent had a date in a while because Ive been busy," he says back.

Yeah, right. "So what kind of woman do you like?"

"Why?"

"Maybe I can help you. "

"Amy, we are not having this discussion. "

"But--"

"But nothing. Stop thinking about finding me a date and start concentrating on your schoolwork. "

I assure you schoolwork is a lot more boring. "You know what your problem is?" I ask him.

"Yes. I have a daughter who insists she knows everything. "

"Thats not your problem, Aba. Thats your blessing. "

My dad chuckles, then sets our dinner on the table.

Taking the chopsticks from the takeout bag, I pick up a spicy tuna roll from the platter and dip it into a little container of soy sauce. Im so glad he got sushi from my favorite place. They always have the tuna without any stringy white veins attached. I do not eat sushi with stringy white veins attached. After I pop the roll into my mouth, my insides smile.

"I forgot to ask," my dad says. "How was it at your moms yesterday?"

I gauge his reaction as I say, "Shes pregnant. "

The poor man puts down his fork and stares at me. "Really?"

I nod. I cant talk now even if I wanted to. I refuse to get emotional. "Wow. "

He goes back to eating after his "wow" comment. I want to apologize even though its not my fault. Hes probably devastated my mom chose a dork over him. Now shes not only married to the new guy, but shes had sex with him to procreate. Eww. The thought of my mom having sex at her age is just plain gross. The fact that shes having it with my stepdad is even grosser.

The only way to fix this situation is to find my dad a wife. Not for procreation, but so he doesnt feel like the odd one without a partner. Hes for sure hiding his true feelings, covering up his devastation of losing my mom to make me feel better.

After we finish dinner, he goes to the workout room in the building while I make a beeline for the computer.

Im web surfing. Dont worry, I know not to give out any personal information when Im in chat rooms. My dad is a consultant for the Department of Homeland Security and has bored me to death with the dangers of the Internet until I thought my ears would bleed.

Im not interested in chat rooms, no siree bob. Im focused purely on finding my dad a wife. Now. . . where can I find the perfect woman?

I surf the Net until I finally find it. Yeah!

Professional Jewish Singles Network.

They guarantee you will find the Jewish mate a matchmaker would be jealous of.

I saw Fiddler on the Roof This is the best possible news.

My heart races as I read the home page and the requirements to join the PJSN. Need to be single. Duh! Need to be between the ages of twenty-one and seventy-five. Check. My dad is a whopping thirty-seven. Need to have a college degree. Check. My dad has a degree from the University of Illinois. Need to have a credit card to pay the $59. 99 monthly fee.

Okay, the credit card thing is going to take a little manipulation.

My eyes dart over to the front door. His wallet is on the table where we put the mail. I know his credit card is inside.

I saunter over to his wallet. Ive used my moms credit card before. Of course I had permission then.

It wouldnt hurt just to take the card out. Just to look at it. I slowly open his wallet. Yep, in one slot the top of a shiny gold credit card is staring back at me. I slip it out and glance nervously at the front door.

I have at least thirty minutes before he comes back. After I put the wallet back on the table I trot back to the computer with his credit card in my hand. Im not thinking about how its probably illegal that Im using someone elses card--this is about helping my father.

The words in my head are chanting soul mate, soul mate, soul mate. My dad cant just live the rest of h

is life in solitary misery.

I click the word Register. The computer prompts me to answer a list of questions. My fingers automatically type in the info.

Name: Ron Barak Age: 37

Hair color: dark brown

Eye color: dark brown

Children: one delightful seventeen-year-old

Occupation: security consultant

State: Illinois

Hobbies: reading, hiking, tennis, baseball

Okay, Im having a tough time with the hobbies question. And, to be completely honest, Ive fudged a few of the hobbies I listed. My dad doesnt know the first thing about baseball. Its not exactly a popular Israeli sport. But if you live in Chicago, you gotta be into either baseball, basketball, hockey, or football. This is a sport-centered town. Im not even going to get into the Cubs/Sox, North Side/South Side rivalry.

On to the next question: Describe yourself in two words.

Hmm. . . what two words will attract women? I type in Israeli and hunk something quick and click enter. It prompts me to scan a picture for his profile and I find one from our trip to Israel.

Finally, it asks for my credit card number. I mean his credit card number. I punch in the numbers and before you can say "stolen credit card, "my dad has his own profile, PJSN e-mail, and is ready to meet his soul mate. Oh man, oh man, I am excited. My dad is in the Professional Jewish Singles Network and is ready to join the dating scene.

Oh, shit. I hear the door opening and I still have my dads credit card in my hot little hand. Do something quick, my mind tells me.

I slide the credit card under the keyboard and close all of the open windows on the computer. Ill place the Visa back in his wallet later. By the time he figures out I used it, hell be so thrilled to have met his future wife he wont get pissed off. In fact, hell be thanking me all the way to the rabbi wholl marry them.

"Amy?"

Hes onto me. He knows I took his credit card without permission. Oh, no. I swallow, hard. "Yeah?"

"Dont you think Mutt needs to go out?" I let out a breath. "Uh, I guess. "

"Well. . . "

I stand up, put the leash on Mutt, and dash to the elevator. As soon as the elevator door opens, Im pushed back by a huge cardboard box and almost fall backwards. My boobs are squished, I tell you. I probably just went from a saggy C+ cup to an A- cup.

"Hey!" I yell.

"Sorry," a masculine voice murmurs, then the guy puts down the box.

But hes not a man, at least not a real one. Its the boy from yesterday who caught Mutt and gave me the concerned citizen lecture.

Today hes wearing a green plaid shirt and jeans with a waist way too high. And I swear cranky Mr. Obermeyer has those same gym shoes.

"Arg!" Mutt barks, then tries to sniff his crotch as if hes hiding a treat in there.

Concerned Citizen covers his privates with his hands like a soccer player during a penalty kick. Then he pushes his glasses high up on his nose, the rims circling his green eyes. "Oh, its you. "

I pull Mutt away from his pants. "Just watch where youre going next time. As a concerned citizen," I add, "you should know not to crash into people with large boxes. "

With my rant I miss the elevator. Damn. I push the down arrow again.

He steps forward and trips over the box. "Are you always this friendly?"

I dont even answer him. Where does he come off challenging me? Thankfully the elevator dings and the door opens. I hurry inside with Mutt. Theres no way Im missing my second chance at freedom.

Source: www.allfreenovel.com