I’m Turning Into My Jewish Mother


Another Father’s Day has come and gone, a day of grilling, drinking, golf (of the miniature variety), and celebrating the man who easily could have shot off in the sink, but instead chose to make you. Isn’t that sweet?

Sitting at my parents’ house over the last weekend, I did a lot of observing of my family, freshly reunited after my sister’s return from a semester abroad and my visit for the weekend. It’s like seeing your favorite band or TV show cast reunite: everyone’s the same, they just look slightly different, and the dynamic pretty quickly goes back to exactly the way it was when you left. Full disclosure: I’m the spitting image of my dad. Greek genetics are pretty strong and I look exactly like he did at my age and he looks exactly like his brother and the both of them look just like their father did, etc.

And yet, I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting to become my father, but…nothing. Why isn’t this happening to me? Have I somehow offended Zeus? It was at that point I realized that I’m not turning into my father; rather, I’m turning into my mother. My Jewish mother. I’m turning into a Jewish Mother. It’s starting to freak me out. Here’s how:

1. I Have An Opinion On Everything

And boy, I am not afraid to express it either. Just in the last couple of weeks I’ve gotten into arguments at the post office because someone cut in front of me, I complained when someone accidentally put sugar in my black iced coffee at Starbucks (and I pronounce it “caw-fee,” naturally), I tell my friends and loved ones when they’re “looking puffy”, I talk back to the TV when it tries to tell me something I don’t agree with and, naturally, I have something to say about just about everyone I know.

I’ve also started saying people are “just lovely,” which apparently is a phrase you use to describe people you care about. Or it’s code for people you secretly hate. I don’t know. I hope it’s the former because that’s how I’m using the phrase. They don’t teach this shit to boys in Hebrew School.

2. My Yiddish Lexicon Is EXPLODING

I mean, I wrote an article here about how to date Jewish Boys that used so much Yiddish, I had to include a “Yiddish Glossary” so all of you goyim could keep up with what I was saying. See? I just did it again. I’m going meshuggenah trying to keep up with this farkakte article.

It’s not just the Yiddish phrases either, it’s the old-world Jewish terminology like “May you live a thousand years,” or old Borscht Belt jokes. Good Lord, the Borscht Belt jokes. Like jokes Henny Youngman, Buddy Hackett, Mel Brooks and George Burns used to tell in the Catskills. Like “I just came back from a pleasure trip; I took my wife to the airport.” or “Why do Jewish divorces cost so much? They’re worth it.” They are so fucking schlocky and I love every single word.

Okay, last one, I promise: “Why are Jewish men circumcised? Jewish women won’t touch anything unless it’s 20% off.” Classic.

3. I Have The Urge To Feed Everybody

Despite how many people I love are “looking puffy”, I still have the urge to put together a feast whenever anyone comes over to my apartment. Seriously, I even offered to make lunch when the exterminator came to spray for bugs last week. The only time I think people are looking thin is when they come into my kitchen. “Are you hungry? You look so thin, bubbelah.”

I’ve been known to force-feed people brisket and could probably whip up a small feast on an hour’s notice out of whatever leftovers are in my refrigerator. When I throw parties at my apartment, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, whether it’s cooking or cleaning. Actually, come to think of it, I spend most of my time in my kitchen. On the plus side, though, I’ve been told I’m quite the Balabuste, and I will make my Jewish husband very happy someday. Somebody had better break the news to my girlfriend.

Time out, though. One thing. The Yiddish term Balabuste means “homemaker” or “housewife.” We seriously made the term for housewife in Yiddish sound like the word “ball buster.” Seriously?! That’s some pretty great foresight from my ancestors.

4. I’m Obsessed With Grocery Shopping

The following phrase has fallen out of my mouth more times than I’m willing to admit: “One of the things I miss most about being in college is having a BJ’s membership.”

Seriously. Not the parties. Not my fraternity. Not the carefree, not-giving-a-single-fuck attitude. The fact that I had a membership to a Big Box store and I could get bulk groceries any time I wanted. Freshly-sliced cold cuts, abundant quantities of chopped meat, giant bags of croutons, you name it…I bought it at BJ’s. I guess I’m really into going grocery shopping and I always thought it was because I’m just a fat kid that loves food, but maybe there’s something else to my obsession. Maybe it’s my mom’s influence that causes me to go through the circular ads in the newspaper every week to compare prices on what I need and maybe that’s why I clip coupons and print them from the internet and try to do my best “Extreme Couponing” impression. Ooh, Challah’s $1.50 at ShopRite this week? Done deal.

5. “Friday Is Bride-Day” And Other Shitty Reality Shows

I am honestly embarrassed to admit how often I’ve sat with my mom and sister and watched bride shows on TLC. “Say Yes to the Dress” is the guiltiest pleasure I have and it absolutely frightens the shit out of me. I am a 23-year-old male with a girlfriend and absolutely zero plans of getting married anytime soon, but I do know that the best place to get a wedding dress in the Northeast is “Vows” in Watertown, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, because they “make wedding dress dreams come true for EVERY bride ― big budget or not!”

Kill me; the transformation is taking hold. “Long Island Medium”, “Say Yes To The Dress”, “I Found the Gown”…you name it, I’ve watched it and probably shed a tear or two at the more heartwarming stories. I can’t help it, I get all vurklempt.

6. The Kvetching Is Strong With This One

I won’t lie to you, I’m a pachech, which means I’m a whiner, a complainer, a bit of a bitch. I complain so often that even my girlfriend’s roommate, a Texan who hadn’t met a Jewish person until she was about 18 years old, knows when I’m about to have a “pachech fit”. The littlest things set me off: dust on the coffee table, food not put away properly, when I get too hungry, etc.

But the most fun part about kvetching/complaining is talking shit about other people. Mostly with my mom. Like going through a friend/family member’s wedding photos and just absolutely ripping them to shreds and the best part is, they’ll never. ever. know. Ever.

Because as whiny as I like to be, the best thing my mother ever taught me is how to turn around and smile and be friendly and talk to everyone, no matter what. Even if they’ve wronged you in the worst way or if you just spent the last hour making fun of them behind their backs. Talk to everybody, that’s the Jewish Mother way.

So, while I have a ton of respect and admiration for both of my parents ― especially my father, the man who went streaking down King’s Highway in Brooklyn and taught me the joy of bodily humor and passing gas ― I have to give a big shout-out to my Jewish mother, the person I seem to be turning into at a rapid, alarming rate and who I’m sure will nag the shit out of me for even writing this article.

JayTas, how dare you talk about your mother like that. I raised you better than that. Also, get your hand off of your penis. Why’s your hand always on your penis? If you’re doing it at home, you do it at work and if you do it at work, nobody will talk to you. Now come eat, you look hungry.”

That’s my mama.

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