Among an Abundance of Bens, He Was the Best Bet
Shaina Schuster Shealy was dating three different men, all named Ben, in December 2019, when she needed a last-minute date to a work holiday party. She thought about who would be the least offended by an 11th-hour invitation and settled on Benjamin David Glickstein. He, unlike her, dated one person at a time, Mr. Glickstein said.
He carried her lipstick and phone all night.
Mr. Glickstein realized he was smitten a few weeks later on a date that Ms. Shealy had planned for them. They went to the New Parkway Theater in Oakland, Calif., to see “Fantastic Fungi,” a documentary about mushrooms. Not only did they snack on mushroom jerky during the movie, but they also made dinner together at her home with three different types of mushrooms.
The two connected on the dating app OkCupid in October 2019. She was living in Oakland, he in Berkeley, Calif.
Ms. Shealy told Mr. Glickstein over beers at Eli’s Mile High Club in Oakland that she was a producer and reporter for Snap Judgment, a studio that produces podcasts. His response that he loved the popular series “Spooked” nearly cost him a second date. (The recurring episodes, featuring stories about the supernatural, are not as beloved among the journalists who work at the studios.)
Ms. Shealy, 35, has a bachelor’s degree in international affairs and fine art from George Washington University and two master’s degrees — one in Arabic and Islamic and Middle Eastern studies from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and another from the University of California, Berkeley, Graduate School of Journalism. She is now a senior producer at the studios.
Mr. Glickstein, 35, has a bachelor’s in anthropology from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn. He is the director of communications for the WateReuse Association, a trade group in Alexandria, Va., dedicated to water recycling.
By March 2020, Ms. Shealy was dating only Mr. Glickstein, but as she was planning an extensive international trip, for both pleasure and work, she suggested that they might want to date other people. The coronavirus pandemic, however, forced her to cut the trip short. Soon, she formed a pod with Mr. Glickstein (and her roommate).
In July, they found an apartment together in Oakland. But, having never lived with a boyfriend before, Ms. Shealy panicked the night before they moved in. “Ben had this gentle way with me that made me able to move forward with him,” Ms. Shealy said.
Mr. Glickstein proposed on a hike at the Point Reyes National Seashore, a nature preserve in Marin County, Calif., on Valentine’s Day weekend in 2022. Ms. Shealy had previously expressed reservations about getting married, saying she was afraid of feeling trapped. He soothed those fears by telling her that with them together, she would feel freer than ever.
They moved to Washington in April 2022 to be closer to their families.
The night before the wedding, there was a Shabbat dinner with kosher fried chicken at Temple Beth-El in Birmingham, Ala., the bride’s hometown.
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The two were married on May 13 in front of 190 guests at the Shealy family farm, a working cattle ranch in Pell City, Ala. The farm belongs to the bride’s parents, Allen Shealy and Esther Schuster. Cantor Jessica Roskin officiated.
Mr. Shealy spent months readying the farm in preparation. Ms. Schuster made a giant carrot cake for the reception and mini banana breads for the welcome bags for out-of-town guests. Covid-19 tests were encouraged but not required.
Cows could be seen in the distance on the farmland, though they seemed to move in closer during the ceremony. Frogs and crickets could be heard as the sun set.
During the reception, the couple donned costumes and kneepads to perform their own version of “the bottle dance,” a folk dance from the musical “Fiddler on the Roof.” The dance required some practice for the bride but Mr. Glickstein has been familiar with the dance ever since he performed it in a school production in eighth grade.
In his vows, he recalled his first visit to Ms. Shealy’s old Oakland apartment. “I entered a world that I haven’t wanted to leave since,” he said. “It’s a world brimming with magnificent plants that you check in on individually every morning. A world where the tea keeps flowing, and something is always slowly pickling in the fridge.”
“It wasn’t really what I had expected,” he continued. “My first glimpses of you were all action: ambitious reporting trips, singles parties, sweaty dancing.”
During her vows, Ms. Shealy said, “Your love makes me feel like I can do anything or, for the first time in my life, nothing at all.”
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