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Sometimes You Have To Be Your Stereotype (Part One)

Updated on February 3, 2008

I know some people will say that you should work against your stereotype. And for the most part I would say that's how I've lived my life however some recent turns of events made me let go of being afraid of being considered a stereotypical Jew and instead I embraced it. My best friend in the world (whom I wrote about in "My Best Friend's WeddingS - read it here - scroll to the bottom of the page... ) was a girl with no religious affiliations whatsoever but when she fell in love and married her first husband (who was a Jew) she not only converted but also was Bat Mitzvah. Which for some may think is going overboard but my pal who has always been an overachiever it was no surprise to me that she and her husband almost ended up running the shul in a matter of minutes of joining. That said she also almost immediately acquired a capability she had never had be a real Jewess in every sense of the word. No longer my sweet Norwegian friend I'd known since high school; if we weren't served in a timely manner or there was something wrong with the food, she became what I lovingly called, "Mrs. Weiss" for that was her married name and when she went into that mode believe me you, she could do better than the Jews from New York or Boca, she was indeed a force to be reckoned with. I always made fun of her and also was a bit embarrassed by it until recently when I myself had to become a Mrs. Weiss. Sometimes you have to be your stereotype (Part One) - Don't Get Me Started!

I went to get a newspaper article clipping on my two beloved great aunts about their time as two sisters who were nurses in World War II framed. It was a lovely article that talked about them going back to Normandy last year with a group of army men and laying a wreath at a ceremony there. As they are sisters, were both nurses, are still alive in their late eighties and are no bigger than my thumb, they are immediately embraced and loved by all. So how nice to have this framed for them, yes? How nice except I was stupid enough to take it to one of those craft stores, Michael's. Let me just say I am now calling for a full boycott of this hideous store and their even more hideous employees. From the start the girl behind the counter with the gazillion colored dreadlocked hair, paler skin than a newly poured glass of milk and black eyeliner for days told me that because the article had been on two pages and was odd shaped that there would be trouble. Now one would think that with all this preparation to look so freakish that at least she'd bring some creativity to the table. Such was not the case. I protested the proposed layout of the piece but conceded once I asked, "What happens if I hate it?" and was told, "We'll make it right."

Three weeks later (why it took this long I'm sure I don't know - no doubt they had to go make the paper matting by stomping paper ala the way Lucy stomped grapes on I Love Lucy or something) I went to pick it up. As I had suspected, she had done the largest frame in recorded history for a small article and there was so much extra space that it looked just awful. As she mumbled about how she said it would look this way from the beginning she told me that I needed to bring in some memorabilia to fill in the spaces that had now been created. I left in disgust. Why was I taking all this from this freak? Because I didn't want to be perceived as being a bitch or worse, a Jew so I went rummaging for other photos of my aunts to put in. I went back and was told that I could only see the original freak girl to get it redone. She only worked days like me so there was no time I could see her until the weekend. I went the following weekend - now we're on week four and I was told the same thing, I needed to see Freakticia who had called in sick. And that's when it kicked in.

Quickly and efficiently my voice raised just enough for others to hear. That's right, not only in the back of the store at the framing department but I'm sure they heard me over on the scrapbooking aisle clear to the silk flower department up front. Suddenly there were three worker bees at the counter. One guy just kept apologizing, the other guy stood there looking at me as if I was from another planet and said nothing, the third girl finally confessed that she had been the one who actually created the monstrosity but that in order to redo it would require two weeks due to the fact they didn't keep the color of matting used in the store. Less loud and more direct I said, "Well what color matting DO you have in stock?"

As she went back to get the matting, guy one kept apologizing and guy two abruptly left the counter (no doubt seeking shelter). She came back with a matt that was one shade darker than the original. I raised an eyebrow and deliberately said, "That's fine. Now that you have the matting, how long will it take to complete it?" and before she could answer I continued, "This has been going on for four weeks now and I just want it over. I want you to think very carefully before you answer me. When can you get it done?" As she looked at me with her red nose and puffy eyes, sniffing either due to a cold or for sympathy she said, "A few days." "Ach!" I said. "Just get it done and call me when it's ready please." And with that I walked out.

I got a call the next day to pick it up. When I arrived no one I had spoken with previously was there and as I was not thrilled with it but I decided to just end this whole thing. The guy who asked me to sign for it had no doubt been warned about me. He didn't make eye contact, didn't apologize when I said that I still didn't like it and he just shoved the paper for me to sign that I was picking it up on the counter.

I can only imagine the conversations that went on during my absence but I really don't care. Nor do I care that I made a scene. Let them call me a typical Jew or a fag, I really don't give a shit. When you pay for something (in this case, over $140) you're entitled to have the job done right and to your satisfaction. So let them say what they may and this whole experience made me discover something else too. You feel a hell of a lot better when you're a Mrs. Weiss than you do when you just a nebbish who walks away again so that people won't think you made a stink or not like you. So look out world, here comes Mrs. Weiss...the second coming!!! Sometimes you have to be your stereotype (Part One) - Don't Get Me Started!

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