Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I didn't recognize you without your sheitel

Northern Virginia, 1988. My mother is in a furniture store, my eight-month-old brother strapped to her torso in a Snugli or similar such papoose. An older lady - rail-thin and elegantly dressed, not a sterling silver hair out of place - approaches to admire the baby.

"What a beautiful boy," she says, and coos at him until he smiles.

My mother never forgets a face, nor can she pass up an opportunity to play The Jewish Coincidence Name Game.

"You look awfully familiar," Mom says to the woman, "but I can't remember where we've met... Oh - I know! Don't you belong to my synagogue?"

"Well, no, I don't believe so," says the woman, and then warmly extends her hand.

"My name is Ethel Kennedy."

1 comment:

Ulysses said...

Okay, so I'm working at the hospital, a lot of that work is in the neurosurgery ICU. I've just left there, and I'm leaning up against the wall waiting for the elevator. A woman turns the corner from the ICU and is walking down the hall towards me. I know her, it must be Ann's friend Linnea, she lives around here somewhere. She must know somebody in there, I should say hello, though I hate the small-world thing. She gets to the elevator alcove, as does the very large man who came out of ICU just after her. What to say, what to say,... (Why does that big man keep looking at me?) I start to step forward to speak, having settled on "Hey Linnea, it's me Quentin", but my tongue gets tied by the man also stepping forward. Just then, my brain kicks in, klaxons blaring: Princess Diana! Princess Diana! Abort greeting! As luck would have it, the elevator was also just arriving, so I just kept walking right in. So did they. He kept a closer eye on me the whole way down, and I kept quiet.