Tag Archives: tracy beckerman

Being Jewish is Not All it’s Quacked Up to Be

16 Mar

by Tracy Beckerman

When you live in the Northeast, you expect that the month of March is going to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb.

You do not expect that it is going to come in like a duck.

In March, the ducks are typically still down south, with the rest of the snowbirds.

Like my parents, they usually wait at least until April before flying back up for the summer. But this year, two ducks decided to hightail it up to New Jersey early. And if you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that there is one pair of ducks in particular that I’m talking about.

Yes, Larry and Loretta Mallardstein have returned to their summer residence, our backyard, one month ahead of schedule.

Apparently the daffodils and crocuses were not the only ones confused by the unseasonably warm weather we’ve had.

As I watched the ducks paddle around in the teeny tiny puddles on the top of our pool tarp, it suddenly struck me that the early arrival might not have anything to do with the weather at all.

“I think Larry and Loretta converted,” I said to my husband after informing him the ducks were back.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, we always assumed they were Jewish because they came up every year just in time for Passover,” I explained.  “But this year they came up for St. Patrick’s Day so I think they may have become Irish Catholic.”

He gave me the blank stare he reserves for my stupidest comments.

“I mean it’s not a problem.  We welcome ducks of all faiths equally,” I assured him.

He shook his head.

“Birds of a different feather can all swim together!” I exclaimed.

He groaned.

“We hold these truths to be self evident that all ducks are created equal…”

“Enough. Please,” he begged.

I wondered if the ducks had new dietary requirements now that they had converted to Catholicism.  When they were Jewish. they couldn’t have any bread during Passover so we gave them matzoh instead.  What if they had given up worms for lent?  Could we give them caterpillars instead?  I was at a loss.

Meanwhile, outside the ducks started to quack up a storm. It was clear they were not happy with the accomodations this time of year and were hell bent on letting us know it.

“What the heck?” Bellowed my husband.

“I think the ducks are annoyed because the tarp is still on the pool,” I commented as the ducks continued their litany of complaints.

My husband nodded.  “See they are Jewish.”

“How can you tell?” I wondered.

“Listen to them kvetching!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Resolving to Keep my New Year’s Resolution

1 Feb

Written by Tracy Beckerman of Lost in Suburbia 

  Last year I made a New Year’s resolution not to make any New Year’s resolutions because I always immediately break them.  Of course I didn’t remember making this resolution until I was in the car one day sitting in traffic and getting really steamed about all the rude people on the road.  After someone cut me off and my daughter yelled out, “Watch where you’re goin’, you moron,” I realized that I might not be setting the best example for my children. I decided then that I was going to break my last New Year’s resolution and resolve to work on my road rage.
When I lived in New York City, I didn’t really have a problem with road rage.  This was most likely due to the fact that I didn’t have a car.  Once we moved to the suburbs, though, we got a car and I actually had to do quite a bit of driving.  I s

oon learned that the suburbs are filled with bad drivers.  And most of them, it seemed, w ere always right in front of me.  Or behind me.  Or cutting me off.  Or stealing my parking space.  My usual calm response to this was a few choice words, some fist-shaking, and an occasional, full-blown hissy fit.


Although I came by my road rage both genetically and geographically (us New York Jews are notoriously hostile drivers) I realized that I might live a little longer if I resolved to be a kinder, gentler driver.  For a while, I was much better.  When people cut me off, I would just smile and wave them on.  If someone tailgated me, I would pull over and let them pass. When somebody else swooped in and stole the mall parking spot I’d been waiting for and there weren’t any other spots within a mile of the mall entrance, I just let her have it (the spot… I let her have the spot!).
Then one day I found myself behind a car that was going so slowly, it might as well have been going backwards.  I immediately took note of the fact that the car was a big, old, cream-colored Lincoln Town Car with Florida plates and a bumpe r sticker that said, “Kiss my Tuchas.” It also seemed, quite mysteriously, to be driving itself. Well, that’s not exactly true.  I could see a pair of hands on the steering wheel, but there was no head.  It was a headless, Floridian driver doing 10 miles an hour in a 35 mile-an-hour zone on a one-lane road and I was stuck behind it, losing my mind.
If ever there was a recipe for road rage, here it was.  Of course, I was very late for an appointment, to boot, so what little patience I had wore thin after two miles.  All we needed was a couple of floats, a marching band, and some Snoopy balloons and we could have our own suburban parade.
For five miles I tailgated the headless driver, getting more and more frustrated, and mentally willing him/her/it to pull over, or turn, or be beamed up to an alien space ship and flown away. Finally, we got to a major intersection, and the Lincoln pulled over to make a turn.  I pulled up next to it and looked over.  There, behind the whe el, was a very old lady, about 110 years old.  I immediately felt awful for tailgating her and belatedly recalled my New Years resolution.  I gave her a weak smile and a little, apologetic wave of my hand.

The itty bitty old lady looked over at me, raised her hand in return…
And gave me the finger.
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A Wedding Two Births and a Funeral

25 Jan

By Tracy Beckerman of Lost in Suburbia

I had to go to a wake recently. I was a little apprehensive because I haven’t been to that many wakes before.
Actually, I have never been to any.
However, since I am Jewish, I have made my fair share of shiva calls. I wasn’t sure if a shiva call was like a wake and I felt a little funny asking the bereaved what the proper wake protocol was, because, after all, they were, you know, bereaving.

I did know that the deceased is in attendance at a wake, but not at a shiva. I think this is because Jews like to eat at a shiva, and the general consensus is that it can be a real appetite-killer to eat when there is a dead person in the room.

With no one to ask, I decided to Google “wake” to see what I could learn. I found out that originally, wakes were held to watch for signs of life and to confirm that the person was dead before burial.

Personally, I would think it would be a good idea to determine this fact a little earlier in the process, but that’s just me.

I also learned that a wake is kind of like a party for the deceased. Of course, my mother taught me that you should never go to a party empty-handed. So I did what my people have done for thousands of years when someone dies:

I brought a brisket.

Now here’s what I learned when I arrived at my first wake. There are lots of flowers. And sometimes, a fair amount of booze. But no briskets.

This is not to say the family wasn’t very appreciative of my brisket. They just thought it was a little odd.
I’m not sure if the same is true for a wake, but funerals are important in the Jewish religion because it gives us the chance to patch things up with family members we’ve been feuding with since our wedding over something really important like the seating arrangements.

We don’t talk for ten years and then someone dies and all the same people who were at the wedding show up at the funeral.

Everyone cries and eats brisket, and suddenly the feuds from weddings past dissipate and all is harmonious once again.

That is, of course, until the next grandchild in the family is born… and then someone gets angry again because the newest member of the family isn’t named after the last member of the family who died. This is a Jewish custom that goes back as many thousands of years as the brisket tradition.

Meanwhile, back at the wake, I noticed that everyone seemed to be getting along just fine, no one asked the engaged couple which table they were seated at for the wedding, and no one seemed bothered that the new baby was named Blue Sky.

And,

surprisingly,

..no one seemed to mind eating their brisket with the dead guy in the corner.

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And G-d said, “Let there be Boca”

19 Jan

 

written by Tracy Beckerman from LOST IN SUBURBIA

20120119-115755.jpgEveryone knows that God made a covenant with Abraham which gave the Jews Israel in exchange for a little foreskin. What most people don’t know is that God also agreed to give us Florida. This is why Jews move down to Florida when they retire. We don’t have a choice. It was part of the original deal. The Christians got Martha’s Vinyard and we got Boca Raton.

This being the case, I wasn’t all that surprised when my parents told me they bought a place in the Sunshine State. My dad had been in semi-retirement for several years and my mother was not far behind. Besides, my dad was a golfer and my mother made a mean brisket, which meant they satisfied the official Jewish retirement prerequisites. They were one Lincoln Continental and two zuzim away from qualifying for a little place in the Palm Beach area on a golf course with their own orange tree and an alligator in the backyard.

Giddy with the prospect of all-you-can-eat 4:00pm dinner buffets for $2.99, they had one foot out the door when I warned them that they needed to do some prep work before they moved to the promised land of milk and honey and Metamucil. As two hip, artistic, culturally-sophisticated New Yorkers, they were under-prepared for life in the matzoh-ball soup capital of the world.
Of course, as a middle-aged Jew still in my formative guilt years, I didn’t have all the info they needed, either. So I picked up the book, “Florida for Dummies and Alter Kockers” and found some handy tips for helping my parents acclimate to life in the panhandle. According to the book, my folks needed to focus on the following:

1. Playing Games: To truly enjoy retired life in Florida, make sure to learn shuffleboard, Bridge, and how to work three Bingo boards at a time.

2. Driving: You must learn how to drive 20 miles under the speed limit and with your head six inches below the steering wheel.

3. Clothing: Men: pants that fit snugly under your armpits. Women: Bold prints in bright pastels. Polyester pantsuits with short sleeves and a tropical palm motif are always a good choice. Donate your black clothes. Black is for funerals which is not a good message to send in a place where everyone is over ninety.

4. Dining out: When you go out to eat, remember to empty the basket of dinner rolls on the table into your handbag before you leave, eat all the food and THEN complain that it wasn’t cooked properly, and steal packets of Splenda.

5. Voting: This is your right as a US citizen and you are entitled to do this for as long as you can drive (which in Florida is well into your late 90’s). Words to know:

Chads – The tiny bits of paper left over from punching a ballot when you vote.

Ballot – the thing left after you punch out the chads.

Do not worry about either the ballot or the chad. They very rarely count.

6. Sex: This is only for men who have outlived their wives. There are two of them.
Satisfied now that my parents were adequately informed to make a new life as social-security card-carrying Floridians, I bid them adieu and mazel tov on their new home and reminded them to stay out of the sun and watch out for alligators and honey bees, but not to worry about wasps:
They retire to Connecticut.

About the author: Tracy Beckerman is a nice Jewish girl from the suburbs of New York, who got married and moved to the suburbs of New Jersey where she learned the only difference between the Jewish girls in NY and the Jewish Girls in NJ is the size of their hair and which mall they go to. Tracy is the author of the book, “Rebel without a Minivan: Observations on Life in the Burbs.” She writes the syndicated humor column Lost in Suburbia,

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Bar Mitzvah Chic | Tracy Beckerman

10 Jan

Written by Tracy Beckerman from  LOST IN SUBURBIA

 Getting my dress for a big, black tie Bar Mitzvah I was attending was the easy part. It was black. It was a dress.  It fit.  Enough said. No, the hardest part for me was doing all those annoying prep things a girl has to do to get ready for a big event.  What does a man have to do…. Get a haircut?  Shave? That’s about it.  However, I needed to put my black tie transformation into effect a good month before the event.

First on my to-do-list was to tone up my triceps.  Having unwisely purchased a sleeveless dress, I was now in the unfortunate position of having to firm up my bat wings so the other guests didn’t think I would take flight when I started dancing.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to do that much about my Jewish genetically pre-disposed upper-arm waddle, but I thought maybe if I did a month’s worth of push ups, I might succeed in reducing the arm flab to more of a wiggle than a waddle.

Fortunately, the dress hid a good amount of mid-body acreage, and what it didn’t cover, two pair of Spanx would take care of.   So I limited my workouts to upper body toning and decided to let the rest of it go to cellulite hell until the spring.

About a week before the party, I went to get my hair cut and colored, so it would be grown in just enough by the big event.  Then I went in for a marathon tweezing/waxing session.  Why marathon?  Well, this is the dead of winter.  I don’t know about you, but I need that extra hair growth on my legs to keep me warm when it’s cold outside. Typically I don’t shave or wax from about November until March.  Do I start to resemble a Neanderthal by February.  Yes. But at least my legs are warm.  Is it attractive?  No.  But when my husband starts to complain, I just tell him to suck it up. That’s what he gets for marrying someone from European descent.

Had I been wearing a floor-length gown, I might have just shaved my ankles and called it a day. But I had bought a short dress and I wasn’t wearing pantyhose, so I had to de-hair the whole megilla.  The technician was sweating and swearing by the time she got done with me, but I was relieved to see that my legs were as smooth as a baby’s bottom and the unibrow I had begun to sport was once again two distinct eyebrows.

The manicure went quickly, but the pedicure was another story.  As with my legs, I tend to get lazy about my feet upkeep when my toes are not being displayed in gladiator sandals all summer.  I don’t usually let it get too bad, though, because if I don’t cut my nails, my husband starts to complain that he feels like he’s in bed with a three-toed sloth.  However, I was definitely overdue for some pedicuring and ultimately, that technician was sweating and swearing by the time she got done with me, too.

With my hair, legs, fingers, toes, eyebrows, and upper arms, all the best they could be without me changing places with a body double for the night, the big day arrived.  The morning of the bar mitzvah the temperature outside plummeted so I ditched my temple dress in favor of long pants, knee socks and boots.  Six hours later we returned home to get changed for the party.  I locked myself in the bathroom, did my makeup, put on my dress, and emerged like a butterfly from a cocoon.

“How do I look,” I asked my husband as I twirled in front of him.

“You look great!” he exclaimed.  “But what’s with your legs?”

“Huh?” I wondered.  I had gotten dressed without a full-length mirror so I hadn’t looked below my waist.  But now as I hiked a leg up onto the bed, I saw that the knee socks I’d been wearing all morning had been pressed into my legs for six hours by my boots and had left me imprinted with a distinct argyle pattern from the knees down.

“Ack!!! I have etchings on my legs!” I cried.  “What will I tell people?”

My husband smirked.  “Tell them you’re of European descent.”

 

 Tracy Beckerman:

Tracy Beckerman is a nice Jewish girl from the suburbs of New York, who got married and moved to the suburbs of New Jersey where she learned the only difference between the Jewish girls in NY and the Jewish Girls in NJ is the size of their hair and which mall they go to.  After her kids were born, Tracy quit her high-powered job in television to stay home with her kids so she could be a great mommy and also have more time to go shoe shopping. Tracy is the author of the book, “Rebel without a Minivan: Observations on Life in the Burbs.”  She writes the syndicated humor column Lost in Suburbia, blogs for Lifetime Television’s show, The Balancing Act, is a contributing columnist at Today’s Mama and tries to convince her kids that Hebrew school is FUN (!) and no, they still can’t have a %&#@ Christmas tree even if they call it a Hanukkah bush.


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