Sunday, September 17, 2006
So I'm in Brooklyn. Last night I had a joint birthday farbrengen with a friend. A woman came - let's call her Tikva - and she was really intense. She kept saying things that were just off. Things that were hurtful. Like someone asked me what my maiden name was, and she said "Oh, that's grimey." What?! Grimey? I had a lovely, normal sounding Jewish maiden name. But Tikva said it was grimey.
I was talking to a friend across the table, and I was telling her about me being at her wedding. I said, "I was crying so hard by your chuppah, crying and shnotting." (You know - when you cry so hard that your nose runs? Does that ever happen to you?) Okay, I admit this may not have been the most decorous thing to say. But Tikva went nuts. She sharply rebuked; "Hello, I'm eating here! That's disgusting! We don't talk like that in my house. I can't even eat this piece of cake now." I felt kind of sheepish and I sorta laughed and defended myself at the same time. I understood that what I said could be considered inappropriate, but she came down on me so harshly.
But this is where it got intense. She was talking about her daughter - I was only half listening, but I heard her say, "I tell her she's stupid." I turned to her, startled. "Did you just say that you tell your daughter she's stupid?" "Well, she is," she replied. "You know, not everybody can be a brain surgeon. I call a spade a spade." I cannot explain the feeling that coursed through me. My body felt cold, yet my blood was running my heart was pumping hard. I felt shock. And then anger. I turned to her - full of emotion - and said, "I can't use the word "shnotting," but you can call my maiden name grimey and call your daughter stupid?" and Tikva replied, "Well, if you lived in my house, what would I call you?"
At that point I excused myself. I handed Zalman to a friend and went and sat outside the apartment. I mean, I had to sit down, my knees were starting to buckle. A friend of mine joined me, and I just heaved and sobbed. I didn't care about her nasty comment to me - I just felt horrified that she would call her daughter stupid. Even as I write this, I wonder why it evoked such a powerful response. I mean, I could think, "Wow, she's got a problem. She doesn't speak appropriately to her kid." But to really bawl about it, I'm not sure why I did.
And then the sob-fest opened up emotional doors between me and my friend, and we talked out some relationship issues we were having. Well - I did most of the talking. And I felt like I had a real catharsis, that all that crying wrung out my soul.
Tikva is a holy Jew, and for some reason G-d gave her holy weirdness to me. I truly hope to have more clarity about it in the future. After all, that's what Tikva means: "Hope."
What, you thought I chose the name randomly?