Tuesday, December 25, 2007

In Search of a Nice Jewish Boy

Let me preface this post with a critically important disclaimer:
- I went against my will.

- I'm morally opposed to these kinds of social encounters.
- I went against my will.
- I was dragged there. I'd venture to say that I was kidnapped.

The Matzo Ball: The largest, annual Jewish singles event, held every Christmas Eve in five major cities in the US (five too many).

I embarked on this journey of Jewish ecstasy with my sister and some of her friends. We arrived at the club and headed straight to the bathroom; Julie's bladder, never in passive mode, but always ruling her life and mine. Inside the bathroom, her friend commented that people in the club looked much older than us.

"Don't worry, I was here last year. Trust me, it gets better," someone says.

Ok, it seems as though we have a repeat offender on our hands. “To the bar,” I say, my senses aching to be numbed. I looked at the female bartender, and if estrogen could speak, she heard my calling to "make it strong, Sister."

My own sister, a "spacious" dancer - that said for her tendency to take up more space than the average person when dancing - managed to accidentally slap me across the face and obstruct the delicate tissues of my eye with a pronounced dance move. She then apologized profusely and started kissing me in the immediate (very immediate) eye area, which I'm sure didn't appear awkward at all to the crowd of people and certainly didn’t help my minor trauma. Her band-aid approach was almost as uncomfortable as when someone kisses you right on the ear and permanently diminishes your hearing ability.

Soon after this "bitch-slap" episode, a guy came over to me and said, "Woah! Are you ok?? I saw that slap from all the way over there."

Me: "Yeah, yeah I'm fine," I said smiling, trying not to cry, wondering if my cornea would ever be the same.

He stuck around, and so begins the story of how the only Asian in this club filled with hundreds of people tried to pick me up.

So we're talking, I think I'm blinking excessively, and then he says, "I need to tell you something."

Lay it on me, buddy.

Him: "I'm not really Jewish," with a shrug of his shoulders.

S-H-O-C-K-E-R. Lo mein, shlo mein. Wonton, shmonton. No big deal, karate kid.

He asked my name. Then I asked his.

Him: "David."

Sneaky bastard. You can't come to a Jewish party with that name and not have either:
- a hook nose;
- a woman in your life who answers to Bubbie; or
- a sporadic craving for kugel.

You just CAN'T.

Your first name is Wang, Ching, or Ding. Your last name is Wong, Chung, or Dong. Pick one of the aforementioned options, any combination will work, and do it faster than I can say "egg foo young."

I managed to escape. The party (pain) continued.

I was sitting down, waiting for my sister to come out of the bathroom. Story of my life. No more than three seconds after my tushi hit the bench, a dorky, Jewish vulture boy swooped down.

He stretched his arm in front of me, revealing a rolled sleeve cuff and said, "Do you prefer cuffs rolled up or down?" (while giving a head nod and raising one eyebrow).
Well, this is one I haven't heard before.

Now, I'm no stranger to attention from sources you'd NEVER want to receive it from.

For example: 11th grade Law Studies class trip to the Broward Country Correctional Facility. I was all the rage among the prisoners in Cell Block B. Hand gestures and beckoning like nothing I'd ever seen before (or since).

Getting back to the bird of prey before me, who has already started pecking away. I say, with a 'are u fucking kidding me' look on my face, "Ummm....I don't really know."

Scavenger: "Oh come on, you have to have a preference."

A preference? Sure. 5'10", dark hair, good teeth, funny, thoughtful, smart, European if we're really talking ideal - and after tonight, a NON-Jew. A Catholic. Very Catholic. Roman Catholic. Someone who would demand that our future children be baptized and have that stuff smudged on their forehead on a random Wednesday. Basically, a far cry (and I think I might at this point) from you. I spot my sister and, like a bird whose wings have just been unclipped, fly over to her.

Please scroll up to the disclaimer at the top and re-read it.

Later on...
Wait, is that my sister dancing on stage? It's not just Christmas Eve anymore, it's Armageddon. Yup, the world is coming to an end.

What else, what else?

Oh you know, walking through the bar, you get:
- Single? You single?
- Hey you...ya single?
- Mmmmph! girl, what up?

Luckily, in dire need of a bang trim, I couldn't see everything that was going on.

The night ended with a Portuguese, self-proclaimed non-Jew asking for my number, saying he came looking for a good Jewish wife. Ummm...go to hell. And while you're at it, take the shirt cuff schmuck with you.

For those friends who plan on visiting me, please be advised that I now attend church every Sunday. You can sleep in while I'm out hailing my new girl Mary.

Merrily yours,

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Sparkling Schnoz Gone Awry

My conservative, older (but less mature), straight-laced sister shocked the family when she got her nose pierced. For its 1.5 month life-span, that little diamond stud was like the fifth member of our nuclear family. Sadly, an abcess (small bump filled with fluid next to the stud, only visible when staring at her nose from close range) formed, and together as a family we went to get the nose ring removed.

When we walked in to the piercing/tattoo parlor, it was as if the Partridge Family had rolled in. The "artist" behind the counter said, "Can I help you, folks???" My sister approached the counter and said that she had her nose pierced, there's a bump, and did he see it?

"Fuck yo! I see it."

Great, we're all in agreement here. He then proceeded to examine the nose ring and accompanying abcess from many angles, mainly underneath. The man instructed my sister to look up so he could "get a look atch’ ya jewelry." Dutifully, my sister raised her head up high. Good girl, very good girl.

He then called over his colleague who would actually remove the nose ring. There emerged an extremely large (wide) man, 5 ft tall, possessing 15 gold teeth. He was clad in G.I. Joe print pants and wore a baseball hat to the side. He told my sister that, for a charge, he could remove her piercing.

She said, "Ok, but is there gonna be a massive hole??" Massive, Sister? Do you have a bull ring piercing or a dainty little stud??

My sister followed him to the back of the store, but he told my mom and I that for insurance reasons, we couldn’t go with her. We just wanted to hold her hand. Apparently, no can do.

So, we waited in an area that thus took on the feel of a waiting room. I looked at the options for tattoos decorating the walls, my mom sat quietly in her oversized, down winter jacket on a bench, and my dad paced back and forth (is she getting a piercing out or delivering his first grandchild?)

From the back, we heard something reminiscent of the "are we there yet" complaint cycle. My sister repeatedly asked, "Is it out yet??"

I counted about eight instances of her asking if she'd have a huge hole in her nose when it was gone. Yeah, it's called a nostril.

As he twisted the ring out, she cried.

Twist, whimper, twist, tear, twist....

All the while, he tried to appease my sister’s angst by calling her “sweetheart” and asking distracting questions, like a doctor giving a small child a shot. “What grade are you in?”

She was 26 at the time.

When my sister emerged from the back, she stood before us looking vulnerable, with three q-tips sticking out from her nostril.

Sister: "Mommy...it bled."

My mom, still seated (thank God), had her hand over her mouth, and shook her head side to side. Dad - still pacing.

My mom paid the man, and on the way out said, "Aaron, I tipped him. He was a nice boy."

Driving home, it was quiet in the car, aside from a few scattered murmurings from my sister:

"Maybe I'll get the other side pierced."

"I felt so liberated with the piercing."

"I feel like half a woman now." Story of my life.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Mom, Dad…Meet Someone Special

I brought someone home for Thanksgiving; someone to meet my parents. I’ve never brought anyone home to meet my family in the traditional sense. My dad is prone to giving noogies, my mom has self-diagnosed social anxiety disorder, and my sister is most certainly the 8th wonder of the world.

Though it wasn’t a member of the male species (Why? Because 3 out of 10 men in DC are gay and I don’t encounter the other 7 elusive beings), I still experienced the same apprehension and nerves I imagine people mull over when they bring someone (whom they’re sleeping with) home to meet their family.

I coached my parents on what they could and could not say, on handshakes versus hugs (hug…always hug), and to speak as slowly as possible. Putting the brakes on speech was imperative as the thus far mysterious turkey eater I brought home was Meiling, a student I teach English to as a volunteer. Meiling is from Beijing and is spending a year at the Embassy of China teaching Chinese to diplomats’ children.

A few weeks ago, Meiling had a confusing purchase issue at Ann Taylor and thought she was charged twice. I went with her to rectify what turned out to not be a double charge, and then we went out for lunch, only to learn that it was Meiling’s first visit to a restaurant in the four months she had been living in DC.

That is not ok. Not one bit. Not to a foodie or a lover of travel who believes you understand a new culture and country by way of your palette. I then made a promise to myself that I would try to show Meiling as much of the stars and stripes as I could between now and her departure (the thought of which makes me oh so sad).

Our next excursion was a Friday night at the movies to see Lars and the Real Girl. Meiling didn’t understand but a few words of the movie, though as she got off the metro train, she said she would remember the night for the rest of her life. I’m such a ladies man. Silent victory cheer.

What would a stay in the US be without a Thanksgiving celebration? Off to Baltimore, MD we go.

I met Meiling at the metro station between the embassy and my stu-stu studio so we could travel to Maryland and meet up with my sister, Julie, who would then drive us to Baltimore. On the metro ride, I taught Meiling my parents’ names. First names. She seemed floored by the concept of calling them Ellie and Aaron. I assured her that they were laid back kids and this is how they would want it to be. Meiling wrote down their names (including how to pronounce them) and kept repeating to herself, “El-E, Air-own, El-E, Air-own.” This made me giggle.

Meiling then showed me a gift she brought for my parents (she’s doing all the right things…why is she not a male who worships me?) It was a beautiful stringed craft of the animals associated with the Chinese lunar calendar. She pointed to each of the 12 animals, telling me what they were. When she got to one of the animals, she said, “Chicken? Hen?...Cock! Cock!” Then she nodded intently, satisfied that she thought of the right term, and continued on. I nearly lost it. Fast forward to her giving the gift to my parents, only eliminating the words “chicken” and “hen” from her presentation.

My sister picked up Meiling and I from the metro station. We stopped at Dunkin Donuts so I could get an egg-n-cheese croissant sandwich (had to miss breakfast to catch a Thanksgiving charity yoga class) and Julie could get a chocolate glazed donut.

For the 50 minute drive to Baltimore, Meiling peered out the car window smiling, non-stop. Sweet, sweet thing she is.

We arrived, and I think all felt nervous on the elevator ride up to my parents’ fourth floor condo. Dad opened the door. Meiling said, “Hi Air-own!” and shook his hand. She shook his hand…pitter, patter. Mom and Meiling hugged. Way to follow directions, Mom.

We all sat around while the turkey basted and the side dishes cooked. There was conversation and some awkward moments of silence, as to be expected. My sister then thought it a good idea to pull out old yearbooks and show Meiling embarrassing photos of me. This is so what happens in the movies. And because I cautioned my family to speak slowly, Julie said, “Look at how faaaaaaaAaaaat Jackie was.” Thanks. At least the bulk is in the past.

When Meiling looked at my sister’s senior year picture, she said, “Joo-lee, you look thin there.” You get my drift? She started it.

I wanted Meiling to get in the holiday spirit, so I handed her a bag of marshmallows and let her loose with the sweet potatoes.

Meiling topping the sweet potatoes with marshmallows.

The surface of the dish was covered (it later melted over the edges and Meiling thought she made a big mistake). There were still marshmallows left in the bag, so I told Meiling to try one.

Yeah, I was her first marshmallow.

She seemed concerned and questioned if it had to be cooked before eaten. Nope, I assured her as I stuffed one in my mouth. Meiling followed suit. “Sweeeeet,” she said with half a marshmallow sticking out of her mouth.

Meiling liked taking photos of my mom cooking.

The dinner went well, and Meiling was excited (read: jumping up and down) at being able to take photos with the family throughout the night.

At one point, my mom was in the kitchen and I poked my head in to ask, “Mom? Do you like her?” with the hopefulness of a girl who’s brought home the man she thinks she wants to marry.

“Jackie…yes. She’s just lovely.” I smiled and bashfully went back to the dinner table, but not before turning back to ask, “Mom? Do you think she’s pretty?”

“Oh, Sweetie...she’s beautiful!” Score.

Meiling prepping the pumpkin pie.

Meiling learning how to use whipped cream.

My family and I were heading to Connecticut early the next morning, so we couldn’t have a Meiling slumber party. My mom and I took her to the train station after dinner. I went into the station with her and insisted on buying the ticket. Meiling almost decked me. Don’t ruffle my feminist (or volunteer) feathers.

I waited with her on the platform until her train arrived to make sure she got on ok. “Call me when you get back to the embassy, ok?”

“Ok, you no worry,” Meiling said.

I got in the car and my mom and I spent the ride back talking about how great Meiling is.

“Mom, can we adopt her?”

Mom: “Jackie, she’s 28 and she’s married.”


Meiling called to let me know she arrived home, mentioning that she loved my parents and she loved Julie. In the words of my grandpa, “What am I, chopped liver?” Story of my life.

On the ride to Connecticut, I announced, “I miss Meiling.”

“Me too,” said my mom.

“Dad, do you miss her?”

“Sure,” said my dad.


That one was sleeping. As soon as you put her in the car it has the same effect as when she was an infant.

So, do you think we’ll last?