Friday, November 02, 2007

The Definition of Torture

This week’s Table Talk is dedicated to Esther Bas Devorah and Hendel Chaya bas Hinda Sara, both of whom are suffering from terrible cancer. May they and all the ill have a speedy recovery. To dedicate a future Table Talk, send an email.

You know, all this news about waterboarding and torture has raised an important question: What exactly is torture?

Some people have pointed out that torture is relative – what’s torture for me may not be for you. Or what used to be torture for me may not be anymore, or vice-versa.

For instance, I used to think it was absolutely torture to go to shopping at any kind of mall or clothing store. Absolute torture! You had to drag me there kicking and screaming! My clothes would be threadbare – you were actually seeing skin – not because I was trying to make a counter-culture fashion statement but because I really, really, really, really, really hated going shopping for clothes.

But that was all before I met my wife.

At first, I let her simply shop for me. That approach resulted in some exceedingly good choices in clothes. There was of course one catch – I still had to go in for alterations. But I was always determined to limit myself to one trip to the mall per decade. So what we worked out was that we would buy slacks from Nordstrom because their seamstress is so good, I could skip the return trip and let my wife pick them up for me because there was no possibility that the pants wouldn’t fit perfectly.

Murphy’s Law: If anything can go wrong, it will.

When the pants came back, they mis-fit on two counts – too wide at the waist and too short at the cuff. I may have lost weight, but I was pretty sure I hadn’t grown an inch taller in two weeks.

The problem is that I couldn’t get myself to go back to the mall. So those pants hung there in my closet, a daily reminder of Murphy’s Law and my own personal failure.

Months passed.

I looked at those pants. I even tried them on again – maybe I was wrong, maybe they do fit after all?

Not a chance.

More months passed.

I considered psychoanalysis. What is the source of my aversion to the mall? Is it possible that I had a childhood trauma at the Tacoma Mall (the site of one of the world’s first Nordstrom stores – I remember the days before it was all fancy but I’m not so old that I remember when they only sold shoes...)?

Finally, I spoke to my wise wife about it. She spoke with an uncharacteristic lack of empathy: “Don't be such a noodge. It’s not a mystery why you don’t like shopping. You’re a man.”

Could that be it? Is that all it is, just my hormonal programming?

Armed with that insight, the solution to the pants problem became so obvious that if I could have kicked myself, I would have.

You see, I didn’t marry my wife so that I could have a partner to do the chores that I find unpleasant or to pick up the slack when I’m busy.

I married her to have a partner to share my life with. Well, we can’t do everything together, but we do have a “date night” every week when we do something together. The key to date night is that we take turns deciding what to do. And whatever one of us decides, the other one LOVES it, because after all, we’re doing it together, right? So when my wife says, “this week we’re going to the mall”, I’m not really going to the mall – because I hate going to the mall. What I’m doing is spending time with my wife doing something she wants to do, which makes it something I want to do.

We went to the mall, we got the pants altered again. They got it wrong again, but I didn’t mind the return trip this time.

And the next week?

Ace Hardware. And she loves it!

And here’s Everyman’s shopping video:

Here’s one that Everyman will hate:

And finally, here's a solution for the whole family:

And finally, the question for your table: What’s your loved one’s pleasure that is your torture?

Shabbat Shalom.

Speaking schedule – save the dates:
November 13-14 - California
November 17 – Washington, DC. and Baltimore
December 5 – Los Angeles (Hannuka party)

(For details, send an email)

Yiddish of the week:

noodge - a whiner (rhymes with "would")
to noodge - to whine or nag

Yiddish review – how many do you remember?

anee — poor person
koptsen — panhandler
ballaboss — homeowner; layman
nu — various meanings (see archives)
mishpocha — family
mameh — mother
tateh — father
mazal — (MAH-z'l) luck or fortune, as in, "It was good mazal that...."
beshert — (b'shairt) - meant to be, as in "It was beshert that..."
mine eltern — my parents
mine lair-er — my teacher
hamantashen — Haman-pockets
zeigezunt — all the best (said upon parting)
kesher — connection
Ikh volt veln a kave, zayt azoy gut. — I'd like a coffee, please.
...kave mit shmant. — ...a coffee with cream.
...kave mit milkh. — ...a coffee with milk.
...kave mit tsuker. — ...a coffee with sugar.
Di Fir Kashes — The Four Questions
Oy vey! — Good grief!
mensch — a decent person
rachmanus — mercy
neshoma (neh-SHOH-ma) — soul
minig — custom, as in, "Why do you do that?" "It's my minig!"
Gavaltig — wonderful
Oy gavalt — How wonderful (sarcastic)
Azoy gait es! — That's how it goes!
Shabbos — Cessation; stopping; day of cessation; weekly Sabbatical experience.
("Gut Shabbos" — "Enjoy your weekly sabbatical experience")
neshoma — Soul
meshugass — insanity
meshuganeh — insane
kyna hara — no evil eye
shvitz - sweat
shanda – shame
L’chayim! - Cheers!
Pinteleh Yid - the Jewish feeling in the heart of every Jew
Zreezus – zeal
m’kohm – place (pl. mkohmas)
mamalashen – mother tongue
kvetch – complaint
kvell – burst with pride
bashert – meant to be, pre-destined, as in, “He’s my bashert” or “It was bashert that...”
hishtadlus – effort, due diligence; as in, “Do your hishtadlus and let Hashem worry about it.”
Yiddishe kopf – Jewish knowledge and perspective (lit., Jewish head)
Gut yahr! – Happy New Year!
Gut yontiv – Happy Holiday (chag sameach)
yarmulke – skull cap
tikkun – repair
tikkun olam – rapairing the World

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