One of my husbands, Benny, invented the song, “100 Bottles of Slivovitz on the Wall.”
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
The 3000 Year Old Jewish Woman, Part 3 Meet Sylvia. She’s been around for 3000 years, the last 1200 of which with an enormous bunion. But does she complain? No.
JEWLARIOUS: I’m sure everyone wants to know … how has your health been over the years?
SYLVIA: Eh. I don’t like to complain, but since you asked I’ve got a bunion that’s a killer. Let me tell you walking with this bulke on my foot for 1200 years isn’t as easy as it sounds, especially during the Diaspora. Who do you think invented the sandal?
SYLVIA: Me and Ruchel. Oy! Her bunion was a watermelon altogether. And all we had were shoes made of tree bark. It was Ötzi the Iceman who invented shoes. That’s a fact. We Jews, however called him Frozen Fritz. Try walking on tree bark, never mind running. The only people who seemed to like it were the Dutch. Then again, what kind of meshugeners wear little boats on their head? So from Frozen Fritz’s tree bark shoes, we cut a hole for the bunions. Pretty it wasn’t because frankly, Ruchel was so near-sighted she couldn’t cut a straight line, never mind a circle with an axe, plus how big a circle and a person make? So we kept cutting until finally there was nothing left but a sole and a strap. But, it was perfect for wearing in the sand, so we called it a “sandle.” The Egyptians I think changed it.
JEWLARIOUS: So all these centuries and you’ve only had a bunion?!
SYLVIA: I also had the worst case of whoosh in the history of whoosh. I still suffer from it, but Thank God, it’s a little better now.
JEWLARIOUS: “Whoosh?” I never heard of that.
SYLVIA: It’s terrible! Terrible! I got it in Pinsk. We had a newcomer to our shtetl; a Mrs. Know-it-all. A real vilda Chaya. Anyway, we had a colossal fight and the curses flew. I said to her, “May your nose grow so much hair it strains your soup!” Would you believe, in two minutes she looked like Fu Manchu? Soshe said to me: “May you have devoted children to chase the flies off your nose!” From that day on I’ve been attracting flies like nobody’s business! Every few hours for over 100 years, my kids and I did nothing bur swat. It’s whoosh here, whoosh there! This wooshing doesn’t help your social life. Wait, you may see it first-hand soon. It not only sounds like a whoosh, it comes with a whoosh. Here’s a swatter just in case.
JEWLARIOUS: Surely it can be cured?!
SYLVIA: Listen sonny, I tried everything, believe you me. I tied twisting wool around myself and walked into the Dead Sea; I stuck my nose in a vat of Manieschewitz, which altogether wasn’t too bad, except for the slight drowning part. It was a good idea not to try this at home alone. My neighbor recommended I recite prayers like “My burden be upon me, and my burden be upon you.” Meyer, my husband at the time thought it may have ticked off Hashem a little. He suggested I find a large ant at a crossroad, put in a tube and shake. Then again, Meyer also thought God told him to circumcise chickens.
JEWLARIOUS: While we’re on the subject, of all your 587 and a half husbands you must have had many terrific ones.
SYLVIA: Two. There was Benny the Philosopher. Never made a shekel but what a thinker! Like the song, “100 Bottles of Slivovitz on the Wall.” That was his. Also, the saying, "Avoid like the plague" which was a hit with Jews during the Bubonic years. Not so much with Gentiles who noticed more of them were plotzing so they blamed us.
JEWLARIOUS: But we know more Jews survived because of our laws of cleanliness.
SYVIA: I know that, you know that, but in the Middle Ages? Pffft. They thought the Jews were mixed up in it – especially Benny. Magical powers, they believed he had, all because of his saying. Frankly, I always had a secret suspicion he was a master of the Kabbalah. He became a local legend. But back then, Yiddishe Kops the Gentiles had? Half the world believed there was a god for everything, water, trees, lice. In our town alone, the Gentiles erected a marble statue to Bedlamtorius the god of Bedbugs. But did they know from cleaning up? Maybe if they took a bath more than once a century instead of blaming us, they could celebrate a 21stbirthday. To this day, I couldn’t tell you whether more Jews died from the plague or the persecution, which is when Benny came up with his “All the rest is history.” When he went public with it, so much for Benny. Meanwhile, my 47thremoved grand-great nephew’s wife told me that “Avoid like the plague” is still number 10 on Google. I still remember when I spilled something, I had palpitations, which is when he came up with “Don’t cry over spilt milk.” Trust me, on two shekels a month, when you “spilt,” you cried. A mind like that but were there copyright laws? In the 1300s they couldn’t even make a law about spitting plagues on strangers.
JEWLARIOUS: But surely they had doctors then.
SYLVIA: What do they know? True, we had our geniuses. Amatus Lusitanus, who helped Pope Julius lll get rid of such a fungus you wouldn’t believe. No one would even take a wafer from him if it wasn’t for Lusitanus. But that’s another story. His office hours started 200 years later -- in 1555. May 1st I believe. I remember it well. His mama did the catering. No loshon hora, but between us, the woman couldn’t make a matzo ball that didn’t give you heartburn. You know, now that I’m thinking, maybe she was drumming up a little business for her boychick? And then of course, there was the very best: Moses Maimonides. But try to get an appointment?! He was booked solid. Nowthat’s a good doctor! For 50 years I tried for my Nathan who was my husband then, but they couldn’t squeeze him in. So my Nathan spent our marriage just screaming in pain. Thank God it didn’t hurt his career as a professional stuffer.
JEWLARIOUS: A professional stuffer? What did he stuff?
SYLVIA: He stuffed! Derma, pigeons, sofas for Sultans. His best-seller was the Cleopatra Chaise model. Saladin alone bought over 2,000. So are you finished interrupting? During the Inquisition, we Jews had two words for it: “OYtis Interruptus.”
JEWLARIOUS: Sorry, continue …
SYLVIA: Thanks to your interrupting, I’m all farshimmelt and feel a big whoosh coming on. You have the swatter?
JEWLARIOUS: Um … you know Sylvia, maybe it’s better that you swat yourself – in the hotel. And we’ll pick this up later when your condition clears up.
SYLVIA: Ok, but make sure you take care of your condition. Then I’ll tell you out how my Nathan made us a little rich. Meanwhile, I’m going. Three thousand years of Oytis Interruptus is enough for any Jew.