After uttering Oy Vey for the twelfth time yesterday, my new Paradise friend quizzically inquired, “You inject sooo many Yiddish words and expressions into your speech. Are you part Jewish?”
Lounging by the pool later I realized it was true. Bubbe, bupkes, chutzpah, feh!, goy, kibbitz, klutz, kvetsh, mazel tov, mentsh, mishegas, nosh, oy vey, plotz, shalom, schlock, shmendrick, schmaltzy, schmooze, schmuck, spiel, shiksa, shmutz, tchotchke, yenta all lace my speech heavier than I lay on the jalopenos.
Twenty-three years in NYC certainly played a part, but it was the two years I accidently rented a huge pre-war flat in Midwood Brooklyn, not realizing I was in a hotbed of Hasidic Jews, that really enhanced my knowledge of all things Yiddish.
The day after the movers left, I innocently headed out to Avenue M, the closest shopping street, to purchase mops, brooms, and groceries. I thought it strange that there was not a single soul out on the streets, but turning onto the avenue I got the shock of my life. All the stores and businesses were closed, with heavy metal doors pulled down and locked over storefronts. I cursed my decision not to set up my TV the day before, because I knew with certainty that the Arabs had come and World War III was surely at hand. As I raced back to the safety of my beautiful, rent-controlled apartment I pondered how I wanted to spend my last surviving days on earth.
I couldn’t spend my final hours listening to my beloved music; the stereo wasn’t hooked up. Couldn’t send any “Farewell, I love you” messages to dear ones; laptops and cell phones didn’t exist in my world in the mid-eighties. At a loss, I settled for crawling under my beloved brass bed with my two Siamese cats, Pancho and Bailey, a bag of Cheese Puffs, a magnum of Dom Perignon, and a carton of OJ. That way, when the Palestinians broke down my door to annihilate me, at least I’d be semi-comatose.
The next morning, emerging from my war-ravaged hidey hole, I couldn’t resist edging out to the street, the better to see what my destroyed neighborhood looked like. Quel surprise! Skies were blue, the sun was shining, folks were as loud and boisterous as ever, and all businesses were open. That little war I envisioned? Turned out to be nothing more than Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, soon to be followed by Yummy Kippers. You better believe that little holiday didn’t catch me by surprise.
Trust me when I tell you that assimilation into this neighborhood was not easy for this Irish Texican. Every summer walking home from the subway in my 5″ stilettos and Wall Street power suits, I had to run the gauntlet of elderly Hebrew women sitting in their aluminum folding chairs, clucking disapprovingly as I passed by. My approval rating didn’t shoot up when I began dating a wealthy gentleman who sent his black chauffeur to pick me up in a stretch limo, always with an armload of yellow roses in hand.
After two long and arduous years of being the scorned woman on the block, I decided to marry the first stockbroker, attorney, Indian, or Chief I could wrangle and get the hell out of Dodge. Because all those clucking old ladies? They had apparently decided collectively that any port in the storm might be preferable to their darling 50 year-old dentist bachelor nephew dying without a wife…any wife, even a scrawny titian-haired Gentile. Invites were starting to pour in to come to dinner and meet Chayim, Efraim, and Yitzhak. I realized my future could not include a man whose name sounded like a cat yakking up a fur ball.
So it was only fitting when my darling but totally neurotic doggie, Reggae, had to start wearing a muzzle for her own self-protection, that muzzle tov immediately leapt to mind. Her only animal companion for the past 13 years went northward to visit Jesus in November (there’s that darn month again!) and she is so lonely and anxious being an only child that she has begun to chew hotspots on her leg, leaving me with $200 vet bills on each occasion.
None of the muzzles we tried were effective at keeping her from aggravating this wound every time I left her alone or went to sleep. Shofar giving her a dreidel to play with and hanging a mezuzah by the door have not helped either. Clever shiksa wench I am, I finally settled on the Blue Daisy Cone of Shame Therapy hat. The Xanax and Dom Perignon I give her as treats haven’t hurt either.