Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Pesach so far

Well, I survived the first days. Of course, now I have to go to school and internship with extremely limited eating options, and I'm sure Zoraida will have something to say about that. (She actually told the cute new social worker how I eat red peppers like apples and scarfed down five bananas at one staff meeting, after hiking all over two boroughs with Melanie. I'm sure he wanted to chew off his arm and escape. I certainly did.)

Shabbos. Alone by myself at home since I couldn't get any meals. It was actually quite relaxing.

First seder. Held at the home of one of the families, the Mermelsteins, where I often go for Shabbos meals. Three of their four children (all at least nine years my junior) are married; the youngest is about 17, so I might beat him to the chuppah. I was afraid he and I would be the only singletons at the seder, but two cousins in their 20s and a 50something guy from Mrs. M's job were also there.

Yossi M., newly married in December, was resplendent in his spodik, which I at first mistook for a shtreimel -- apparently a common mistake.

"So is he a chassid now?" I asked Mrs. M, puzzled.

"No -- he's a freelancer," she replied, meaning he reflects an eclectic group of ultra-orthodox influences. He's learned with the Mir, at Lakewood, and is now at a new small yeshiva in Jerusalem. Mrs. M was slightly annoyed because Yossi has taken on some new seder customs that didn't jive with her husband's.

I couldn't believe Yossi didn't know what kind of fur his spodik was made of. Apparently that's a guy thing. He did know his bekeshe was "authentic polyester" and not silk. I was surprised he wasn't wearing his kittel, but apparently freelance ultra-orthodox Jews pick and choose their customs. Or maybe he felt wearing it more than once in six months would be unseemly.

Yossi's new wife is very cute, very young, and very shy. She didn't read at all during the seder -- the rest of us went through the haggadah, paragraph by paragraph around the table, in English or Hebrew as we saw fit.

Across the table from the newlyweds were Mrs. M's daughter, Blimi, and her husband, Moshe, the yeshivishe Litvak -- one of those anti-chassids. During Hallel, near the end of the seder when all of us were tired and going through the haggadah at our own pace, Yossi in his flowing beard and payos caroled chassidic tunes while Moshe in his neatly trimmed beard kept his head down and murmured quietly but intensely. It was kind of a microcosm of the modern ultra-orthodox world, except they were not trying to kill or excommunicate each other.

One married couple that was definitely not any kind of ultra-orthodox was a pair in their early forties who could not keep their hands off each other. I've never been inspired to say, "Get a room!" at a seder before, and fortunately the four cups of wine were small, so I managed not to.

What made this more interesting to me was the fact that the husband was grotesquely large -- pouring-out-of-his-clothes obese. Yet his average-weight wife snuggled up to him and kept giving and taking little kisses. All damn night. It was fairly annoying -- a seder isn't a make-out movie theater -- but it did make me think about how not being attracted to obese men could be curtailing the number of eligible husbands I might consider.

I also got to hold Blimi's four-month-old son for a fair chunk of the evening. All in all, time well spent.

First lunch.
With another family I go to on Shabbos -- the gentleman who leads davening at the kollel. Three of his four grown kids, whom I hadn't met, were there with their kids, so it was a bit of a zoo, but lots of fun. (The fourth, whom I've met, was at his in-laws.) I really liked their daughter-in-law, who was wearing funky clothes and a nose ring.

Second seder. I told the person who set me up with sedarim (including the grandfather who hit on me -- and I still think a single woman shouldn't be sent to a single man's seder) that I wasn't comfortable with huge group meals. Apparently 60 people isn't "huge." I shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth, but I didn't enjoy this seder nearly as much -- partly because it was a zoo, and I wasn't in the mood to be around tons of people, but mainly because the average age was about 10 years above mine.

The first question the setter-upper asked me was my age, and I told him. But I would much rather have been with a bunch of kids 10 years younger than I, or a family with small- to medium-sized children, instead of a group of singles in their 40s and 50s. I found it terribly depressing.

Loud, overweight, 40something women in flashy yet frumpy clothes, with long frizzy hair and heavy makeup, trying to appear youthful and not succeeding. Desperately making themselves conspicuous -- yelling, "Oh, I'm sooooo hungry!" or "Where are we?" or even, "Wait, I need to go to the bathroom!" Like anyone cares to hear that pathetic cry for attention.

Pontificating 50something men, who insisted on telling long, boring stories -- even though the seder leader asked people to keep their comments to two minutes -- about their travels and visits with various important Jewish personages, when the rest of us just wanted to get through the haggadah. Trying to show that they're still important, they still matter, even though they're not married with kids. Attention must be paid.

The organizers were three unmarried siblings in their forties. I applaud their determination to joyfully and enthusiastically observe Pesach, take care of others, and create ritual and custom without spouses or children. But is that my future? I sneaked out right after Hallel and went home. I won't be asking that guy for seder referrals again.

I did note a few married couples where the wife appeared to be much younger (and hotter) than the husband. More food for thought. Maybe my age and appearance guidelines are too strict.

Second lunch. Tikva was thrilled to see me -- it's been months. She insisted on sitting next to me and feeding me bits of matzah.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like it coulda been worse.

    I ended up leading the second seder and watching my MIL and her SIL stare daggers at one another and pointedly NOT address one another directly. Fun times.