Rosh Hashana is the Jewish New Year, and a magical time when family and extended family come together to enjoy all things Holy, praising the Lord for a New Year and hoping he’ll be generous with us when we repent next week during Yom Kippur.
Most of the things I just wrote are true, unless you are sitting at my family’s table for the Holidays. Anyone who knows us, knows we’re about as liberal and unorthodox as it gets. Despite our quirks, my family is a ton of fun and a guaranteed “crazy story” whenever we get together. We celebrate three nights of Rosh Hashana, but this year I only participated in two.
Night 1: Lord of the Sanitation
I run out of work to head to the airport to pick up my cousin from NY, only to find her plane is running an hour and a half late. Great. We’ll be the last one at…sedar? No, that’s passover. Shabbat dinner? No, that’s Friday. Crap…”What the hell is this dinner ceremony called,” I scream to my Mom over the phone.
“Honey, I don’t know. How about just…dinner?”
Finally my cousin arrives, and we head to her house where there’s a 25 person dinner currently in progress.
My brother has saved us some seats at the end of the table, where there is some young guy I’ve never seen sitting near some family friends. A lot of people haven’t seen me in a while, and I’ve lost a bunch of weight in the past few months so it’s a lot of..”what have you been doing?” and “where’s the rest of you?” and me smiling and saying, “no-no-no…I’m still here!” Which is code for, “oh, stop it! but really…go on!”
The young guy is watching my cousin and I, and I’m trying to pretend like he’s not some weird stranger who has shown up for the Holiday dinner unexpected. Clearly, he belongs here and to someone here…so where are they? Someone claim this guy so we can get the weird introductions out-of-the-way.
But no one does.
He looks exactly like a guy I went out with a little under a year ago. Laughs the same, looks the same, talks the same. It’s creeping me out! BUT, I refuse to make eye contact and continue with my conversation with my brother and cousin.
Here’s what you should understand about my cousin. She’s a year younger than me, and incredibly tiny. She went to a borderline ivy league school, and has an incredibly snobbish attitude about anything BUT schools in that similar realm.
I love her, don’t get me wrong, BUT people see her and wonder… “why is she still single!” People read my posts, know my standards and go… “oh, well…we get it with her!”
Regardless, I’m walking around the table doing my obligatory “Hello! So good to see you!” routine to the 25 people sitting around my Aunt and Uncle’s dining room, and stop to say hello to one of our extended family members, Rita. She turns to me and says, “Did you get a load of David?”
Rita: “Yeah yeah yeah…David. John’s kid. He’s very intelligent! Harvard graduate, builds some kind of something for the African children. Go talk to him! You two would be a great couple!”
Me: “Thanks Rita, but no thank you. I’m quite content being–”
Rita: “GO. Just talk to him, what’s the harm?”
I return to the table, and it appears that David has made a move from the other side of the table closer to my cousin, brother and I. I’m sure he’s just trying to be friendly, but now that Rita put this ridiculous notion in my head, I’m sitting there trying to do my best to act natural yet flirty, calm yet fun…a sitting contradiction.
While we’re talking, and he’s laughing at my jokes…or just my commentary, I introduce myself. I ask him what he does and he looks surprised, like… “No one has told you? Why, I’m the LORD of Sanitation!”
It turns out, this guy is amazing, modest and brilliant. He’s figured out how to help an entire Country function by utilizing their poop and turning it in to energy.
Me: “Oh, wow. Well, at least you’re doing something purposeful! That’s amazing! You’re helping so many, just by utilizing something they have an abundance of (poop). Don’t ask us what we do…my cousin and I don’t save orphans from burning buildings or anything like that.”
At that point, he asks my cousin what she does and she answers. I walk away.
Later on, his 92-year-old grandmother whom I absolutely love comes over and sits in between us. He’s watching me interact with her, laughing and smiling as we chat.
Me: ” SO tell me! What do you do these days?”
Pearl: “Oh me? Well, I go to the Senior center everyday which is nice.”
Me: “What do you do there? Break guy’s hearts? Play canasta?”
Pearl: “Oh don’t be silly. I just like to go, we all chat, and then I get driven home!”
Me: “Sounds like a great deal!”
Time goes by, and after explaining to him what I do for a living (as glamorous as it is, try not to be too impressed I tell him!) and him pretending to be very impressed…we hug, say nice to meet you and he leaves.
Once again Rita circles back… “So?? A match??”
Don’t go to dinner single, is the moral of this story. Because trying to date someone in my own area isn’t hard enough, I should date a guy who lives primarily in Kenya, and is full of shit? LITERALLY!?
Rosh Hashana, Part 2
This is where things get scary, folks. So again, my cousin is this brilliant individual right? The magical thing about my cousin is she’s incredibly book smart, but not so amazingly savvy everywhere else.
For instance, just a year ago she says to me, “Oh my GOD…did you know that when they neuter dogs they cut their balls off?”
Brilliance at work.
Both of my cousins actually have a strong affinity for being wildly inappropriate at the most inconvenient times. The second night was hosted by our family friend who lives upstairs from my mom. She put together a beautiful spread, and we went upstairs to see what the night would have in store.
Everyone knows I’m taking real stories and posting them, and it’s making everyone incredibly nervous. Each time laughter comes from some silly comment or action, they turn to me and say, “we better not see this up there tomorrow!”
As always, I say…no promises.
Things are rolling smoothly. Everyone is drinking, eating, and trying to be particularly careful about what they say…until…
My cousin: ” So guess what I learned the other day?”
All of us stare blankly, mouths full of noodle kugel and Challah.
My cousin: “I learned, that a lot of doctors after a woman gives birth, help the men out by doing what’s called a courtesy stitch.”
Me: “What? What is a courtesy stitch!?”
My cousin: “Well, after you give birth, you tear from your V to your A. OR, they cut you. SO…when they stitch you up, they throw an extra stitch in there for the men…”
Out of NOWHERE, my Uncle chimes in:
Uncle: “YEAH, you know. For the Vagina. To tighten the Vagina up after blowing it out.”
Then he makes a disturbing vacuum sealed tight sound, and we all throw up in our mouths just a little bit.
I often feel like my family is like a circus. There’s a ringleader, then an instigator with a lion-like demeanor who comes out roaring with madness, then we all have to jump through hoops of fire at the end of it to bring things back to whatever normalcy we started with.
Either way, I love these people. They’re insane, tactless, silly and oftentimes crude…but damned if they’re not also amazing, loving and oh, that’s right…my family Happy New Year to all!