*Note to my own grandmothers: this is not about you!
I am not particularly fond of generalizations, but I think a few things can – and should – be said about Jewish grandmothers as a whole. I am excluding the fit blond ones I saw in Aspen because I think most of their Jewishness was taken away with their face-lifts. They are loving and lovable, but they can, in some cases, be somewhat unbearable (anybody read Portnoy’s Comlaint?) In order to understand their behavior better, we must understand the two intrinsic fears that guide them through life.
- The child/grandchild will go hungry.
- The child/grandchild will not get married/marry a goy.
All the following actions are directly linked to Fear #1:
- Forcing food down your throat, verbally or physically. Physically includes that guilt-inducing glare.
- Having three refrigerators, all full. And a barrel of cranberry juice and a lifetime supply of almonds in the pantry.
- Giving you second and third helpings and then asking you why you are not hungry.
- Freezing food. Some even slip into an unbreakable cycle of putting all fresh food into the freezer, and eating only defrosted foods.
In order to demonstrate Fear #2, I will share a real life example.
It is a Friday evening in Aspen, and it is my day off. Since I am Jewish, I figure the coolest thing to do would be to go pray. The woman next to me strikes a conversation, and within a remarkably short time, collects all the information she needs:
- I am Jewish
- I am a girl
After double checking that all of this is true, we move onto the next topic: her grandson. He has a college degree! He’s smart! He’s handsome! So, what do I think? I’m single, right? I would love him, she says knowingly. “But… you know, he really loves Florida. I don’t think he’d ever move from there. So if you’re not planning to move to Florida, don’t even bother.”
I breathe a sigh of relief. But she continues.
“No, you know what? You should still call him. I want you to call him. Here, I’ll get his number…” and she runs off to yell at her husband. “Okay, here’s the number,” she says, pleased with herself. “Will you call him?”
1. I do not want to.
2. We are at shul, it is Friday night and you just said he was religious.
3. I am not looking to be set up with the grandson of a woman I just met. This ties into issue #1.
The husband settles the dispute: I am to email him after Shabbat.
“Okay,” I finally say, wondering how harshly G-d will judge me for lying to two nice people on a Friday night, in shul. Yeah, I’m probably going to hell. I walk over to the kiddush, happy to get a chance to get a better look at the food. As I am happily noshing on some cheese and crackers, I see the grandfather walk over to me. I look around. No grandmother. But what’s that in his hand?
And before I know it, a man I do not know is waving a photo of his grandson in my face.
Forgive me father, for I have sinned. I know not how, but you must be punishing me for something! A few days later, as I am walking around town, I see them on the other side of the street! I duck back into the store I was in, casting furtive glances and practicing my James Bond moves, until I am certain they are out of sight.