|That's me, Pattie Weiss Levy.
A Modern-Day "Ima"
on a Modern-Day Bimah
new content posted every WEEK!)
Saturday, July 20, 2013
A Word From the Weiss
If the past week or two have taught me anything – other than what it’s
like to live inside a gi-normous oven – it’s an invaluable lesson or two about the value of things.
And what really matters in the
But wait. Let me start at the beginning.
I don’t know if it was prompted by the recent flooding in
our basement, or we’re just getting on – or getting old – but my husband and I have decidedly entered what
you might call downsizing mode. We’ve begun manically purging our closets and cupboards of everything well past its
prime or expiration date (including some dresses I bought during the first Clinton Administration and a box of Corn Pops practically
old enough to date back to their original incarnation as Sugar Pops).
So about the last thing I needed to do last week was go to Brimfield, the mammoth flea market in eastern Massachusetts,
where I’m guaranteed to come across tchotchkes and other items that I don’t really need, but suddenly
find myself unable to live without.
My cousin and I have a long-standing tradition of journeying together to this marvelous mecca of memorabilia and vintage
hazzarei each summer, however. The things you find there are nothing like anything you’ll ever see at Walmart
or the mall.
From oddball collectibles to incomparable kitsch, there’s truly no telling what you’ll find
there. That makes it the one day of the year when we feel a bit like pirates, surfing the high seas instead of the Web, foraging
for hidden fortune, trolling for treasure.
Besides, my daughter had agreed to drive up from NYC in order to accompany us there. So we decided to brave the oppressive
humidity and head east early last Tuesday.
I consider this trip an annual
tradition, but Brimfield is actually held tri-annually – in May, July, and September – and my cousin and I had
already gone once this year. That excursion had yielded quite a haul for me, from a vintage lamp to a sterling silver ladle.
But my greatest coup, as far as I was concerned, was a delicate little ring.
I’d come across this great find in a booth featuring miscellaneous items at such low prices that, as they say,
they were practically giving them away. This included a set of four colorful porcelain cheese plates depicting scenes of France
for only $8, and a lovely glass sauce bowl for 3 bucks. In the case of the ring, the price tag said $6, but in the custom
of Brimfield – where hondling for a lower price is not just allowed, but considered de rigueur –
the nice, white-haired woman manning the booth let it go for only 5 bucks.
At the time that I bought it, I must admit that it looked a little discolored and dingy. But I took it home and shined
it up as best as I could with jewelry cleaner. And then, when I examined it under the light, I became convinced that I’d
gotten away with not just a good deal, but a true steal.
The band looked like it could be real gold, with a setting no
less intricate than the one on my much pricier engagement ring. The dozen tiny clear stones surrounding the jewel in its center
sparkled so brilliantly that I wondered if they might be real diamonds.
As for that jewel itself, it was a pale blue-green
that looked to me like it might be a precious gem. Judging from the stones I saw online, I figured it to be an aquamarine.
I became so enamored of this bauble that I wore it everywhere and stopped to look at it several times a day, holding
my hand up to the light as I reveled in my good fortune. My only regret was that I hadn’t bought a second ring that
had been sitting beside it. This had been similarly priced and would’ve made a great gift for my daughter or niece.
Over the ensuing weeks, I often considered bringing this ring to a jewelry store to have it appraised. There were only
two things stopping me.
One was the realization that such an appraisal would probably cost far more than
the ring had itself, and then it would no longer be such a great bargain.
The other was a bit more complicated. I was
afraid to learn the ring’s true value and possibly discover that my suspicions about its enormous worth might be delusional.
Just as all that glitters is not gold, all blue-green stones are not aquamarines.
With that in mind, my daughter Allegra and I met my cousin Susan in Brimfield, a small town near Sturbridge.
By the time we’d managed
to arrive, my cousin had been there for hours and had already managed to spend all of the hard-earned cash that she had brought
along. But she was thrilled to have gathered an eclectic assortment of must-have items, including an attractive pair
of ceramic purple candlesticks.
“Must have,” like beauty,
you must keep in mind, is strictly in the eye of the beholder.
She’s not the only one in the family who finds all things purple impossible to resist, and before long Allegra
had fallen hard for a vintage lamp with big violet polka dots, which was marked $85 but the owner readily agreed to part with
for only $75.
My most-prized booty for the day included a framed poster of a French seaside scene from Nice that was a little worse
for wear, but still rather nice. At least I believed it would look nice in my newly restored basement. (And honestly,
for 20 bucks, what would you expect -- something perfect?)
I also found myself unable to go
on without a silver-hued Art Deco statuette that might be turned into a lamp… or maybe a candleholder…
but most likely would prove incomparable at collecting dust on a table in my living room, along with all of the other knickknacks
that I’ve collected from this venue in years gone by.
As often happens with our trips to Brimfield, though, we had a
specific agenda. Allegra had come largely in hopes of finding a new night table to replace the dingy and dilapidated
one in her apartment left behind by a former roommate.
With that in mind, I persuaded her to bypass some of the other fabulous finds that caught her eye, including an elegant
white wire dress frame, and a record player from the ‘50s that we were assured worked, but was decidedly what you might
call "low-tech" and sounded so scratchy that I offered to pay extra provided that the record playing on it were
The best thing about Brimfield
is the astonishing variety there. No matter what you happen to be seeking, you can usually find almost infinite options from
innumerable eras in every possible style and price range.
So after awhile we tried valiantly to tune out the unrelated
distractions, from a bevy of beatific Buddhas (how cool would those have looked on my lawn?) to a mammoth bin of multicolored
buttons (how fab would those be if I had time to sew?).
This day was all about
That is not to say we didn't
manage to take a break for a bit of that grease-saturated fare you find at any fair, including the ultimate in decadence (not
to mention trayf), skewers of chocolate-covered bacon.
After downing one of these, Allegra began salivating anew at the sight of some exquisite antiques whitewashed
in the mode euphemistically referred to as shabby chic (so that they can charge not-so-shabby prices for them). But
I lost my appetite at the sight of their $300-plus price tags. And as happened when we went to Brimfield last year in search
of a new dresser for her, I made it clear that these prizes were strictly in the realm of someday… in the distant future…
when she was rich and famous and/or spending her own dime.
Soon after, a funky facsimile in a two-tone design of vibrant
green caught her eye. But she soon pronounced it a little too vibrant. And a little too green.
Then, at long last, she spied a series of alternatives that were a happy medium. They were expertly restored with bright,
glossy finishes, but not too bright. They were also priced somewhere south of 100 bucks apiece. Each
a bargain if I ever saw one.
They were almost too perfect. All of them. That created a new problem: Which one should she choose?
Allegra agonized about whether to go for a black one
or the silver. Then whether to buy this black one or that. Finally, she chose one of the blacks, and I decided to take the
other. (If it didn’t look right in my newly restored basement, I knew who’d gladly take it.) And the seller volunteered
to shave 10 bucks off the already-reasonable price of each.
Mission accomplished! And now most of our money was happily spent.
on the way back to our car, Allegra
swooned at the sight of a delicate cameo pin depicting three lovely ivory nudes dancing arm in arm on an oval background of
coral. The tag read $18, but the saleslady let it go for $14. A final bargain. How could we resist?
Only as we drove off, exhausted but kvelling over the day’s catch, did it occur to me that we had never
managed to track down the booth at which I’d bought my ring.
Before reaching the highway, we stopped at the
local Dunkin’ Donuts, which is another part of our tradition, to use the facilities and get a cold drink for the ride
home. Allegra crossed the room to get a straw for her iced coffee when a man of about 50 with a kippah on his head
sidled up to her and abruptly struck up a conversation.
“Did you go to the show?” he asked. A harmless enough
Hearing that we had, he demanded to know what she'd bought there.
I quickly insinuated myself into
the conversation, mother hen that I am, and Allegra and I began excitedly ticking off our many purchases. Then we asked what
“Nothing,” he replied, explaining that he was a jeweler, but hadn’t managed to find anything
Was he kidding? Brimfield is the largest outdoor antiques show
in the country and features over 5,000 dealers. How could he have found nothing there?
At the same time, having learned
his profession, I couldn’t resist bringing up the story of my ring.
“So you want me to give you a free
appraisal,” he ventured with a snide laugh.
“Not exactly,” I said, feeling defensive. But he waved
that off with a smile.
“Of course I’d be happy to look at it,” he countered, as he accompanied us outside. He
was also curious to see Allegra’s cameo, which we’d left in the car.
Once she had retrieved her pin, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a tiny folding telescope-like
device that I assumed was a loupe. Raising it to his eye, he examined the brooch briefly, then traced his fingers
around the delicate metallic scrollwork at the cameo's edges.
“This pin? It’s a piece of junk,"
he concluded. "It's just plastic. How much did you pay?”
When we told him, a bit sheepishly, he shook
his head in disgust. “It’s worth maybe a dollar,” he said.
Then he turned his attention to
my beloved ring. After eyeing it fleetingly through the loupe, he pulled a small metal contraption from the
trunk of his car and held my ring against it.
“What’s that?” I asked anxiously.
“Just a magnet,” he explained before delivering his chilling verdict.
“The band isn’t gold.
It isn’t common metal, either. It might be brass at best.” The large jewel was of indeterminate nature, he said.
As for the gleaming stones around it, they certainly weren’t diamonds. They weren’t even rhinestones. Cubic zirconiums,
All things considered, I said I was relieved
to have paid only 5 bucks for it.
“Five dollars?” he scoffed. "It's only worth 50 cents."
Fifty cents? My treasure?
He went on to assure us that he was equipped to sell us much nicer
things. But it soon became apparent that his wares were not what he was bent on selling. For as picky as he might
be, he'd finally found something that piqued his interest.
“Are you single?” he asked Allegra,
explaining that he was looking for a wife.
Well, the guy presumably knew his jewels, but (kippah
atop his head or not) he clearly did not know his Jews… or certainly his nice Jewish girls and moms. That is to say,
whatever he lacked in looks and youth (he needed a shave badly and appeared far closer to my age than hers), he had failed
to make up for in either diplomacy or charm.
When he asked for Allegra's business card, she surrendered
it, not quite sure how to politely refuse. But she didn’t return the phone call he placed to her that night, and
she never will.
In the ensuing days, I found myself gazing less and less often at the trinket on my pinky. It was still
just as sparkly. It was still just as lovely. But it was no longer priceless, or a mystery.
Sometimes ignorance really is bliss.
Or is it?
Allegra was enjoying her visit home so much that she decided to stay
over for another night. She also agreed to join me in my purging efforts by going through the piles of old clothing that she
had stored in our basement for years.
I was about to carry another box of it upstairs when I heard her begin
She had just received an email informing her that she was supposed to sing in a restaurant in NYC that
night. It was a gig she had applied for, but she'd never heard back from the event organizers to indicate she had been hired.
It was nearly 4 p.m. Her gig began at 7. She wasn’t packed or dressed.
And we live at least two and a half hours away.
She quickly phoned her band members and learned that they were all available.
With luck, I had ordered some new dresses online, none of which fit me, but one of which she’d tried on for fun
and had looked fabulous on her. I told her to go put it on while I raced around frantically packing up her clothing and belongings,
which were scattered throughout the house.
The worst of it was that it was now raining torrentially, with
tornado warnings nearby. By the time she left, it was nearly 4:30, right in the midst of rush hour. She was terrified that
she would arrive late.
I was equally terrified, but for very different reasons.
I was afraid that she would drive way too fast for the nasty road conditions
and get into an accident.
But she said she had to go, if only to save face.
I spent the next three hours unable to sit still or almost to breathe. And all that time I kept thinking that I had
spent the day before – perhaps the last day of my precious daughter’s life – wandering around a flea market
shopping for stuff I didn’t need.
The black or the silver? The silver or the black? What difference did it really make?
It turned out that the rain eventually subsided, although with rush-hour delays she still got there 20 minutes late.
But en route she had phoned her friend Aubrey, who's also a jazz singer, and gotten her to graciously go over and
sing a few numbers until Allegra arrived.
So I guess all was well in the end.
That is, my daughter arrived safely and got to sing, and I’m still wearing my cherished ring.
But when I look at it now, mere "junk" though it may be, I see something more precious than diamonds or rubies
(let alone aquamarines).
The truth is that I like nice things, and unusual things, and I enjoy getting a bargain
as much as the next nice Jewish mom. So I will probably go back to Brimfield next year.
But when it comes to value, it’s not
Who really cares about stuff?
The thing that makes my Brimfield treasures special is the special people I go there with, and the memories I've collected
of being there with them.
And so I’ve come to realize that, however
blunt he may have been, perhaps that not-so-nice Jewish jeweler was actually right.
My pretty ring, whether gold or
mere brass, really is only worth about 50 cents. So is my engagement ring, everything inside my house, and the entire house
itself… if you compare them to the way I feel about my daughter, my cousin, and, of course, my son… and all
the other people who matter in my life and help get me through the hard times (and the sizzling HOT times like these).
Sure, it’s a lesson that we all know. But we also all know how easy it can be to forget at times, in the course
of daily life and the endless pursuit of great fortune.
I may not get to be a pirate sailing the high seas more than once (or twice) a year. But I already have my fortune:
my family. And friends. They are my true treasures. They’re my greatest finds. And that’s something you certainly
won’t find at Walmart, or the mall.
Or, God knows, even at Brimfield.
Saturday, July 6, 2013
A Word From the Weiss
Happy Fourth of July from Connecticut, or as happy as it can be, considering
that the annual riverside fireworks display has been canceled… due to flooding.
Flooding? When did midsummer
become monsoon season in the Northeast? When did global warming become global storming?
Once there was a time when it didn’t
pour for days on end, when entire evenings went by without shrill flood warnings interrupting your regularly scheduled programs
on TV, and you had to walk around gingerly outside to avoid getting totally drenched by the oscillating sprinklers watering
your neighbors’ lawns and almost everything else in sight.
But if I really wanted to wax nostalgic, I would
look back instead to a time when I wasn’t doing something at every single second, or more likely doing three things
at once, as I was the other day, when the contractor repainting our flooded basement, a flooring salesman from the cloying
TV carpet purveyor Empire Today, and two schmegegges who’d come to repair a crack in our foundation arrived
all at once.
The best thing about summer, after all, is the pleasure of often doing nothing at all. The closest I’ve come to that
lately was two Saturdays ago, when it would be fair to say that I ended up doing absolutely nothing… although even
that took an awful lot of effort.
Let me explain.
It all started when my daughter was nice enough to invite me for a girls’ night out in New York City. My
husband and I were already coming in that weekend to attend her latest jazz singing gig, and Allegra had heard that her
dad was working on Friday night, so I would be all alone.
“Then you can come to the Mermaid Parade with us on Saturday!”
“Mermaid Parade?” I asked. “What’s that?”
She explained that it was a Mardi Gras-style event held annually in Coney Island, modeled after the notorious Halloween
parade in Greenwich Village, to which people come dressed (or not so much) as outlandish sea creatures. That is, to say that
many of the costumes in evidence are somewhat on the skimpy side doesn’t begin to cover it. Most of the women there parade around topless.
Allegra and her apartment mate Jamie had gone last year – fully dressed, I might add, unlike two unidentified gents
who posed with her – and had the time of their lives.
Almost any time that I get to hang out with
my daughter amounts to having the time of my life, so I accepted without reservation. Then I relayed these plans to my husband.
“Mermaid Parade?” he asked. “What’s that?”
For some reason, as soon as I explained, he immediately insisted on coming too. So suddenly I was no longer headed for
a girls’ night out in NYC. Nice Jewish Dad and I would drive in early on Saturday instead in time to chauffeur the girls
Having gotten a gander at the vintage-looking black-and-white sailor swimsuits the girls were planning to wear, my husband
and I came dressed in color-coordinated garb. This consisted of a sailor-style dress I’d bought in Portland, Oregon,
last summer for me. For him, I picked out a white linen shirt and black pants. To top things off, I brought two crisp white
sailor hats left over from the year that I wrote a Purim spiel for our temple based on South Pacific.
Unfortunately, we were running on Jewish time, which is to say that we got a bit of a rather late start, as usual.
Allegra had decreed that we needed to arrive at her place on Roosevelt Island no
later than noon in order for us to get them to Brooklyn for the start of the parade at 1 p.m. But when we finally pulled
up at around half past 12, they said that they weren’t ready anyway.
When they came down in their own sailor suits of sorts, they sure looked ready. They’d liberally dusted their bodies
with glitter and were each sporting an ersatz tattoo or two. Apropos of their seaside destination, both were wearing black
fishnet stockings. And along with the sailor hats that I’d also given them, they’d fashioned belts from the plastic
lobster and crab I’d found in our basement, left over from a sea-themed party I’d thrown years ago. Never mind
that these items were not just tacky, but trayf.
After spending the whole morning primping, they were famished, they said. They wanted us to drive them to a deli for
sandwiches. There was nothing to eat in Coney Island beyond Nathan’s hot dogs, they claimed, wrinkling their well-glittered
After that, they insisted on going to Starbucks to wash their lunch down with overpriced iced coffee.
My husband grew apoplectic over all of this delay. Enough with the Jewish time (and wasting both time and money). He
wanted to get going now.
Why, I asked, was he in such a hurry? I told him to chill out. The Mermaid Parade was their thing, after all, and we
were awfully lucky that they were letting us tag along.
In fact, speaking
of that, he never had been officially invited to join us in the first place.
“Of course I was,”
he countered, sounding audibly offended. But at that he piped down.
By the time the girls were finally set to leave,
it was going on 2 p.m., so they decided to drive alone in Allegra’s car and have us follow them. They wanted to stay
at the parade for as long as humanly possible and were worried that we might want to bail earlier.
Judging from my husband’s level of interest, that wasn’t likely to be a problem. We did have to be back
in time to meet some friends for dinner at 6, however. So we readily agreed.
As we drove, we listened to the
radio, which kept giving updated reports about the parade. Devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy last fall had threatened
to torpedo the festivities. The decision to forge full steam ahead anyway made the event a major news story.
But that's not the reason my pulse
began to race as we sped down the Belt Parkway.
Along with my great delight to be included in one of my daughter’s adventures, I was thrilled to be returning
to Coney Island. I hadn’t set foot there since the late 50s or early 60s, when my maternal grandparents often had taken
my brother and me there to stroll the boardwalk come summer and win prizes playing arcade games like Skee-ball.
Allegra had said that the drive
would take only about half an hour, and had assured us that there'd be plenty of parking available. As soon as we approached
the general vicinity, though, traffic slowed to a standstill.
By the time
we had reached a busy thoroughfare called Neptune Avenue, well over an hour had passed, and we found ourselves mired in gridlock.
Countless streets near the parade route were cordoned off by police barricades, we discovered. The rest were glutted
with endless lines of cars.
This was evidently in part because, in view of the full-scale media blitz, a record number of people had decided to
attend this year. But there was also another issue.
The issue was that there were no public parking lots in sight.
Not even one.
After creeping along for quite a while, my husband and I lost sight of Allegra’s car. So we began
to drive around aimlessly ourselves, desperately seeking parking.
By now it was nearly 3 p.m. The parade had begun
almost two hours earlier. We feared that we might miss it entirely. Yet there wasn’t a free space to be had anywhere.
Allegra phoned to say that she’d stumbled across an actual public lot, but that it was charging $60 to park.
That wasn’t just highway robbery. It was full-fledged extortion. So she
had continued to forge on.
Given the heavy traffic that we had encountered getting there, my husband and I figured that we needed to leave the
parade by 3:30 in order to get back to Manhattan. This would give us time to check into our hotel, park the car, and change
our clothes before meeting our friends. We didn’t want to show up at the restaurant in sailor suits.
Yet now it was already past 3 and
we hadn’t even parked yet. Even if I could find Allegra’s lot, we could only stay for a few minutes. I wasn’t
about to pay $60 for that.
So we kept driving around.
After we’d made our second tour of duty down something called Mermaid Avenue, I saw what looked like the parade
route in the distance and made my husband an offer that I knew he would not refuse. I would drop him on the next corner and
continue the hunt myself.
“Take pictures!” I called after him as I pulled off.
Then I continued to cruise the
area, if you can call it “cruising” when you’re driving so slowly that your car might as well have dropped
Allegra, who was still circling the vicinity herself, texted me to apologize.
“I can NOT believe this!”
she wrote. “I had no clue. I took the subway last year.”
In desperation, I considered asking various
people standing in front of their houses if I might pay them to briefly park in their driveways.
But that seemed kind of tacky and I didn’t have the nerve.
After another half-hour, I spied an opening on a side street. Every space that I’d seen so far had turned out
to either be in front of a fire hydrant or be marked with multiple placards warning, “No parking in front
of driveway.” This lone space was alongside a metal gate that led to a house, but the opening looked too narrow for
any car to fit through. Could you even call it a driveway? It was just a footpath at best.
At least there was no “No Parking” sign in sight.
I quickly pulled in and scrambled out onto the sidewalk, feeling as euphoric as if I'd just won the lottery, when a
young man strode out onto the front steps of the house. A girl of 3 or 4 in pigtails gripped him halfway up his leg. He did
not look happy. At all.
“That’s where you’re parking?” he called in what sounded like a Jamaican accent, placing
his hands on his hips. He sounded less angry than disappointed in all mankind. “You’re going to block my driveway?”
I stopped dead in my tracks, mortified. “Oh, that’s your driveway?”I asked. It didn’t seem like
it would help matters any to malign this pathetic path.
so sorry!” I said.
He and the little girl stood there watching me vigilantly as I slunk back to my car
in agonizingly slow motion, as if I were walking down a gangplank bound for the deep sea. I was so reluctant to get in again
that I dared to give it one last shot.
“Actually, is there any way that I could pay you to park here
for just a little while?" I pleaded. "Please! I can only stay for 20 minutes at most, and I’m dying to see
He stared at me flatly, clearly unmoved. Even the tot at his knee looked stony-faced. “No,”
he replied, shaking his head gravely. “Someone’s coming over. Right now.” Then he continued to stand his
ground until I was safely back behind the wheel.
By now it was already past 3:30. I’d been inside my car since 10 a.m., except for that brief hiatus inside the
deli when we'd gone to buy the sandwiches.
Moments later, another text came in. This time it was from my
“Where are you? It’s over,” it said.
Was he kidding? Over?
Fini? Before I got to see a single fin?
My heart sank at the very thought.
Had I come all this way for naught?
But I felt far, far worse for my daughter.
As eager as I had been to see the scene and learn what all of the hubbub was about, the thing I was most excited about
was that my kid had wanted me to come along. How many parents – nice, Jewish, or otherwise -- get invited
along for such decadent revelry?
For Allegra, though, who was presumably still cruising the area, missing the parade
wasn’t just a small disappointment. She and Jamie had been deliberating about their costumes for months. This would
be tantamount to having a little kid miss Halloween.
Since I didn’t actually know what the heck it was I had missed, anyway (other than from the few fairly tame
photos that my husband had managed to snap), I decided that the only pressing matter right now was to show up on time to meet
So I quickly rendezvoused with my husband back at the spot where I had deposited him.
To my relief, I got a text message
moments later from the girls, who had decided to return to that exorbitant parking lot after all. Never mind that the parade
itself was indeed already over. Any chance to salvage the day was worth almost any price.
I could only hope that there was something left for them to do or see. “Take pictures!” I replied.
And so they did.
Although the procession of floats and marching revelers had disbanded by now, they still managed to enjoy
themselves thoroughly and cause quite a stir, by their account.
wanted to have their picture taken with us,” Allegra would later attest.
This included two bare-bellied denizens of the deep who had made ample use of glitter themselves.
There was also the colorful creature
from the Blue Lagoon with the iridescent green tendrils.
Then there was the girl who rose to the occasion by sporting nothing above the waist but a pair of white roses (although how
she had managed to attach them remains a mystery to me).
Seeing these, I realized that as seaworthy as our own
get-ups may have been, they were a little too demure. Honestly, what could I have been thinking? Would we have belonged in
any of those pictures? We had no seaweed or sparkles and I was covered from neck to knees. To paraphrase Gertrude Stein, there
was no bare there.
The good news is that we managed to get back to the city, check into our hotel, change into normal
clothing, and arrive at the restaurant precisely at the dot of 6.
Not to mention
park the car... in an actual lot!
After dinner, our friends and some relatives joined us at Tomi
Jazz, the Japanese restaurant on East 53rd Street where Allegra was singing that night. And by the time we arrived, my
little mermaid was already there, having changed into high heels and a raspberry colored taffeta dress.
Looking at her, in fact, you would
have no clue about her whereabouts earlier that day, other than for the telltale traces of glitter everywhere, which wouldn’t
wash off for days.
We got to hear her sing for two hours and hang out with her during intermission.
So in the end, I think it would
be fair to say that I did absolutely nothing that day. But I still got to hang out a whole lot with my daughter. So I also
pretty much had the time of my life.
If this is a story of an old mom and the sea, then I’m afraid it is just another sorry tale of the one that got
Or is it?
As they say, at least half the fun of almost
any experience is in the anticipation, and my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed that. And of course, there’s
always next year's Mermaid Parade… for which I may not dye my hair blue, or get a tattoo, but I will definitely be
taking the subway.
|That's me. The redhead on the right. But that is NOT my baby.
No, sir, that's not
my baby. How could any mother smile beatifically while her own child wailed? Never mind that neither of my offspring
ever cried so plaintively, as far as I recall (not while I was there to nurture them through their every perceptible
need... although my son still complains that I often dressed him in garish and girlish color schemes, scarring him FOR LIFE).
Besides, I'm distinctly beyond prime
delivery age ("Kitchen's closed!" as my mother might say), and my kids had departed the diaper stage by the
dawn of the Clinton Administration. Now in
their 20s, both are currently living on their
own, in not-too-distant cities, although each manages to phone me daily. In fact, to be exact, several times a
day, then sometimes text me, too. (That may sound excessive, and emotionally regressive, but I subscribe to
the Jewish mother's creed when it comes to conversing with kinder: Too much is never enough.)
Two demanding decades spent raising two kids who are kind, highly productive and multi-talented, who generally
wear clean underwear (as far as I can tell), and who by all visible signs don't detest me are my main credentials
for daring to dole out advice in the motherhood department.
Presenting myself as an authority on all matters Jewish may be trickier to justify.
Yes, I was raised Jewish and am biologically an unadulterated, undisputable, purebred Yiddisheh
mama. I'm known for making a melt-in-your-mouth brisket, not to mention the world's airiest matzah
balls this side of Brooklyn. My longtime avocation is writing lyrics for Purim shpiels based on popular Broadway productions,
from "South Pers-cific" to "The Zion Queen." Then again, I'm no rabbi or Talmudic scholar. I
can't even sing "Hatikvah" or recite the Birkat Hamazon. Raised resoundingly Reform, I don't keep kosher, can
barely curse in Yiddish, and haven't set foot in Israel since I was a zaftig teen.
Even so, as a longtime writer and ever-active
mother, I think I have something to say about being Jewish and a mom in these manic and maternally challenging
times. I hope something I say means something to you. Welcome to my nice Jewish world!
|LEVYS! MEET THE LEVYS! WE'RE A MODERN JEWISH FAMILY...
In coming weeks, I will continue
posting more personal observations, rants, and even recipes (Jewish and otherwise). So keep reading, come back often,
and please tell all of your friends, Facebook buddies, and everyone else you know that NiceJewishMom.com is THE BOMB!
The family that eats together (and maybe even Tweets together):
That's my son Aidan, me, my daughter Allegra, and Harlan, my husband for more than 26 years, all out for Sunday brunch on a nice summer weekend in New