Anyone who knows me can tell you, “That Wex is a nice guy, but he’s certainly no Beau Brummell.” Having grown up in the 60’s, when middle-class Jewish boys were dying to look like sharecroppers, I’ve remained opgerisn un opgeshlisn, “ragged and tattered,” ever since, much to the chagrin of my daughter and wife. I still own––forget own, I still wear the shirt in which I saw Jimi Hendrix.
“Se past nisht,” said Mrs. Wex in her inimitable Birmingham Yiddish. “It just isn’t appropriate. That shirt is older than I am.”
“Bist mer nish’ ka’ shleper, You’re not a shlepper anymore.” And just like that she grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and shlepped me of to a mall, while my daughter capered about, chanting, “Abba’s gonna look cool, Abba’s gonna look cool,” as if I ever looked anything else.
After paying a premium for on-the-spot alterations, we emerged from the mall, two women in jeans leading a glatt-kosher Lord Fauntleory afraid to bend his knees lest he ruin the crease of his new Italian suit pants.
We went straight to our favorite restaurant to celebrate; within three minutes, I’d dripped cholent onto my designer pants.
I looked at my wife and shrugged. “Di zelbe Yente, nor andersh geshlayert,” I said. “The same old Yente in a brand new package.” You can take the boy out of the shmattes, but you can’t take the shmattes out of the boy.
This article originally appeared in The Jewish Week. Below are some items for sale from eBay for those of you with an interest in Yiddish.
[phpbay]yiddish, 4, “”, “”[/phpbay]