Wednesday, April 8, 2009

It's Only Funny Until Somebody Loses Her Voice

In addition to the usual run of poofdahs, drag queens, and future presidents, my college friends and acquaintances included a few frummies, two of whom had the following memorable conversation senior year:

Frum 1: You know, the Catholics only have to go to Mass once, EITHER Saturday night OR Sunday morning.

Frum 2: Yes, but you have to arrive on time, and you can't talk during the service.

Frum 1 and Frum 2, Jewfros a-flutter
observe Hebe in Hat about to make gefilte
out of Mom's fish

Now one of those very frummies has invited me to the bat mitzvah of his daughter. My very goy Cheez has never been to a bat mitzvah, so of course I did just what any adherent of my ancient and sacred sect would do.

I started poking around on the internet.

On Interfaith Family, I found an article about what a goy should and shouldn't do as a bar/bat mitzvah guest. Then Googling bat mitzvah guest I stumbled upon the same article where it was originally published. And I couldn't help but notice the original includes this amusing instruction:

Not speaking during services. While you may see others around you chatting quietly--or even loudly--be aware that some synagogues consider this a breach of decorum.

I emailed Ruth Abrams, my editor at Interfaith Family about how that line does not appear in the IF version. I am imagining you looking at the original, chortling with an "Oh please," and cutting that part out.

Ruth emailed back, noting that one of the very first pushy Jewish mothers to go on record, Gluckel of Hameln, admonished her children not to stand in the back and talk during services—and then described people doing precisely that. Constantly. Way back in the seventeenth century.

What was most amusing about this exchange is that the email that landed in my inbox immediately after Ruth's was from my nearest and dearest convert to Judaism, neighbor Edith. Who was advising me on how to prep Chuck for the big b.m. (which is how my mother always referred to bar and bat mitzvahs).

You could take him to Congregation Neveh Shalom, where he'll find out that people just yak during the services, so you can't hear the rabbi anyway. At Havurah Shalom there seem to be more converts like me, and non-Jewish partners, so people actually seem to be listening. I'm not saying either is better, of course.

Of course she wasn't saying either was better. Which just goes to prove, you can put a shiksa in the mikva, but you cannot make her genetically pushy. Er, I mean genetically Jewish. No, wait I did mean pushy. Oh, wait, same thing.

Do you people ever shut up? Cheez asked, when I read him the various emails.

To which we learned the answer is yes.

Jews shut up when we have laryngitis. Or rather, we open our big mouths but nothing comes out.

Which is what happened to me for the better part of the past two weeks.

Eleven days in which I could not talk at all.

Screw heart attack. Laryngitis came close enough to decimating me that I henceforth deem it The Silent Killer.

Have you had any Zen learning? a friend asked, when I bumped into her on the street and scribbled out a note explaining why I wasn't saying hello.

Why yes. I had the sort of Zen learning only a silent Jew can have:

1. Screw Socrates. Inventing writing was totally a good idea.

2. On the other hand, it's terrifying to see all of your remarks written down. Most are actually pretty unremarkable. Or remarkably inane.

3. Under normal operating conditions, I talk aloud to myself even more than I thought I did.

4. Cheez is a very nice guy. I will luvvvv him forever. But I will never pick his sorry heiney as a charades partner.

5. It's no damn wonder two year-olds have tantrums. Knowing everyone else can communicate in language when you can't, or can't beyond the most rudimentary level, totally sucks. You'd kick and cry and throw things, too.

Or at least, I did.

What finally seemed to cure me was the freshly grated horseradish I prepared for this year's seders.

Perhaps if they put a dab of that on the communion wafers, the crowd at either-Saturday-night-or-Sunday-morning mass would be a little chattier.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

ATF meet WTF

From the AP:
PITTSBURGH - A man opened fire on officers during a domestic disturbance call Saturday morning, killing three of them, a police official said.  Friends said he had been upset recently about losing his job and that he feared the Obama administration was poised to ban guns.

I guess that gunman showed all those gun-banning Obamakins just how important it is to preserve the right to bear arms, no matter how flipping unstable the arms bearer is.

The right wing must be so proud of all the fear-mongering they've generated.  I know how much they celebrate cop killing in all their rap songs.  

NWA does stand for National Rifle Association With Attitude, doesn't it?
Wow, that do-rag really brings out Wayne LaPierre's beady little eyes.

The usual NRA response to these sorts of shootings is some statement about how this shows that we need more armed, trained civilians carrying concealed weapons around, so they can pick off any potential crazed shooters.   

I'm sure the Pittsburgh police realize that if only they'd had a few of those, everything would be just peachy right now.