And I Wrote This Book.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Doing It With Yiddish Flair

The ladies on Sex and the City do it in every episode. Catholic school girls vow not to do it. Nice Jewish women console the relatives who set shiva[1] once they learned we’re doing it. “Not to worry, Bubbe[2], I won’t do it anymore. Not for long, anyway. I mean, I don’t want to. I’m not trying to do it. It just kind of happens. But I’m careful. And, oy[3], it’s the best. You remember, nu[4]? This it should bother you?”

So we do it. We do it because, though we won’t admit it aloud, it’s exciting and freeing. We do it because we won’t settle for kibbitzing[5]. Enough with the mishegosh[6]! We do it and keep doing it despite what they’re all saying about us. We do it because we’re fed up with the shlemiels[7], shlemazels[8], shmendricks[9], and shmegegees[10]. We do it with sanity intact. We do it with integrity. We do it with an outspoken confidence. We stay single!

Every so often, we think it may be time to stop doing it. This one might be the one, I tell you: the beshert[11] sent by the Almighty to redeem this life of tsores[12]. Sometimes years, sometimes hours into the relationship, we detect, shall we say, a few minor imperfections. “Don’t fret, Bubbe, he will move out of his sister’s house when we get engaged. This I am sure of. He will try to find work too, once we have kids. He doesn’t want me to be sole provider. Such a mensch[13], I tell you.” Yet, before the next Shabbat, it explodes in a farshtinkena[14] mess. After the waterfalls of tears, the last crumb consumed of an entire sinfully trafe[15] chocolate cheesecake, offering support to those family members who returned to mourning our bleak existence: oy gevalt[16], such relief! One deep breath later, and we’re back to doing it.

Not to worry, Bubbe, we do it selectively. He’s gotta be at least a quarter Jewish. If not, does he watch Seinfeld in syndication? We should be so lucky!

We do it with stamina. We schmooze[17] for hours at all of the important gatherings: the Matzo and Latke Balls, the Kung Pao comedy night, Israel in the Park, and the list goes on and on I tell you. We only stay home on weekends but once in a while, really. Very occasionally, there’s a more appealing option, like clipping our toenails with focus and precision. The next day, though, we get out there again with a chutzpah[18] that would send Miriam[19] kvelling[20] through the deepest of waters. This is true it is.

We do it with variety. There’s Jdate.com to find a partner within 10 miles, or there’s Jdate.com to find a partner within 15 miles. After a while, let me tell you, we increase the range to anywhere in the known universe. Then, there’s speed dating at Starbucks or fast dating at the Jewish Community Center. There’s the incomparably expensive local Yenta[21] or the free but ever intrusive Auntie Rita. Such options they are endless.

We do it safely. We stay in one spot, keep it brief, and leave. No phone call the next day, even. A casual e-mail in 5-7, perhaps. Very rudimentary and protected, you see. We wouldn’t have it any other way. Not to worry.

We do it for stress relief. Oy, no more dirty socks on the kitchen table, no more toilet seats to put back down, no more schedules to coordinate, dietary idiosyncrasies to appease. We do it on our own time, our own terms, with concern only for our own needs. This it is the best, nu?

So I say to you my tribal sisters who are doing it: let it be time to unleash the stigma and do it with pride! That every moment is a simcha[22] whether we’re alone or taking care of some nudnik[23], I mean loving person. That when and if we decide to abstain from doing it, that this one should be truly worth the abstinence. In the meantime, let us do it with the the perseverance and optimism of our ancestry. Lets do it with chutzpah. L’chaiyim![24]

[1] Mourning rituals that last for 7 days (or, in this case, possibly a lifetime) following the death of a loved one.
[2] Your Jewish Grandma.
[3] Oy. {There really is no other word for “oy” that says “oy” like “oy”.}
[4] Yes? Or “I really mean it.”
[5] Joking around, intruding, teasing. See mishegosh.
[6] Craziness, messiness. See kibbitzing.
[7] A fool.
[8] A born loser. Nothing goes right for the shlemazel.
[9] A wimp.
[10] A nobody, a jerk.
[11] The love of one’s life, destiny.
[12] Misery, stress.
[13] A true gentleman.
[14] Yucky, smelly. Derived from farshtinkerner (smelly person).
[15] Food that is not kosher. Note: this cheesecake it was made with pure animal fat it was.
[16] “Oh my” to the extreme.
[17] Talk it up, charm others.
[18] Nerve, fervor - in a good way.
[19] Moses’ sister, a great female leader of the Jewish people in days of very old.
[20] Beaming with pride, boasting.
[21] Matchmaker.
[22] Celebration, blessing.
[23] Annoying person, nuisance.
[24] To life!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Mc Feelings

With pride verging on arrogance, we are sure that we won’t make the same mistakes as our parents. They didn’t communicate with us very well and certainly were not good role models in teaching us to express our feelings productively. But we’re different. We’re evolved. We’ve developed feeling charts of all forms and sizes, with sad faces, scared faces, confused faces, tired faces. The more enlightened teachers post these in their classrooms, and some sensitive parents even display these on their kids’ bedroom walls. Learning centers include the Feelings Bingo Game, Feelings cards, the Talking, Feeling, Doing game, and so much more. We read books like “Moe gets Mad on Monday,” “Tracy gets ticked on Tuesday,” and on through the weekdays with alliterative fancy. We practice “feeling” words repeatedly with our children. “Say ‘I feel mad’. Don’t whop your baby sister in the face.” We’ve learned to discipline by accepting kids’ feelings but not their unsafe behaviors. You know, the line, “I like you, but I don’t like your behavior.” We’ve nailed it. We’re good, so good that when I asked the Preschool Panthers how they feel during circle time that one fine morning, they expressed themselves with a glowing confidence, vulnerability, and honesty. “I feel like McDonalds,” Jesse exclaimed. One by one, the others followed suit, feeling like a Big Mac, feeling like McDonalds, like French fries, even a milkshake. “Swell,” I thought. “I feel like a shot of whiskey myself.”