If you can’t take the heat, get a kosher kitchen

When it’s hot like this outside, so hot that I can FEEL the air, think I’ll never see blue sky again, it reminds me of a day back when I was working in a bookstore in midtown Manhattan. The owner of the store was a very nice lady (I’ll call her Maxine for blog purposes.) She was kind of like the precursor to my landlesbian, genuinely kind, but with hints crazy was bubbling up all over. Shortly after the death of her husband, she converted to Judaism. Have you ever heard that converts are the worst? She embodied that, and liked to take every opportunity she could to remind us that she had converted. Quote in point:

“Oh you are all such dears for getting me the lovely birthday cake. Unfortunately, I don’t have any kosher knives here, so we’ll have to put it in the refrigerator until I can get a rabbi to bless it.”


“I haven’t placed the wholesale order yet because tomorrow is Purim.”

But it wasn’t all bad. She never worked on Saturdays, but always brought in challa bread and some kind of assy chocolate dessert that us old pros knew to avoid. And even though our bookstore specialized in theatrical publications, we had a budding Judaica section.

But let me get back to this one particularly hot day, when I was standing behind the information desk procrastinating in my shelving and talking to Stu (that’s actually his name, because no name I could invent would define this man better than the one his parents gave him.) Stu was, and I’m sure still is, a resident of some outer part of Brooklyn. What was left of his wavy red hair was pulled into a messy ponytail that made it look like he only had the use of one arm. Like a large part of Brooklyn, I think he was Jewish, but that’s only a guess because his name ended with a “witz,” not because he ever mentioned it.

As I was saying, I was talking to Stu on this hot day when Maxine came up from her office. Every time she did this, the first task was to LOOK BUSY because there was never supposed to be more than one person at the information desk at one time. At that moment, I spotted a customer, and greeted him as if that was my entire reason for not doing my shelving. He told the three of us, “Can you believe this heat? It’s awful! I mean, it’s just oppressive!”

At that moment, Maxine gave her “I survived the holocaust (and please don’t mention the fact that I was a 10 year old Connecticut Sunday School student at the time because I’m JEWISH now”) look and said to him, “Oh, you’re telling me! Of course, I can take it, because like Stu, I’m used to being oppressed.”

And that’s why we don’t complain about the heat being oppressive. Because you may unknowingly raise the ire of a convert.


6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by lizgwiz on July 10, 2007 at 9:00 pm

    I want to convert to Judaism, just so I can say “I’m used to being oppressed.” You can’t get away with that when you’re an Episcopalian.

    Of course, I do have some Cherokee blood. “You had to walk how far? My people had to walk THOUSANDS of miles on the Trail of Tears.”

  2. Posted by stefanie on July 11, 2007 at 2:10 am

    Sorry, but I’m still stuck on the “assy chocolate dessert.” It truly makes me want to cry when people take something as good and pure and hard-to-screw-up as chocolate and do sub-par things to it. That alone would be reason for me not to like this lady, oppressed convert or not.

  3. Posted by -R- on July 11, 2007 at 3:27 pm

    I know a Catholic convert who is just like this. He has told me that I am not a good Catholic because I am not a Republican. WTF? And he has gone into cursing tirades when discussing how many people showed up at his church for Christmas mass, causing him to not have a good seat. Yes, cursing at people who go to church. That is the good Christian way. I wish he would also claim to be oppressed. That takes some real hutzpah on your former boss’s part.

  4. Posted by metalia on July 12, 2007 at 4:36 am

    This woman reminds me of the dentist on Seinfeld who Jerry suspected had converted just so that he could tell Jewish jokes without fear of reprisal. 🙂

  5. Posted by Aaron on July 12, 2007 at 12:33 pm

    Hhhaahahhahahaha! Ha! Ha…ha..

    Oh. That is good. I’m so using that line for everything now. That I am not Jewish is neither here nor there.

  6. Posted by FandK on July 23, 2007 at 9:48 pm

    Ok, so my parents are Catholic converts and you know I’m begining to see a scary resemblence. Help.

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