Frumgirl 1: Generalized Closet Size

Eventually, everyone has to deal with the obnoxiously curious. From the relatively harmless guy who’s not too embarrassed to ask the hole in the sheet question to the utterly odious dude who researched “Orthodox Judaism” on wikipedia and comes in with a written list of overly specific questions about niddah the following day (true stories!). Still, I was unprepared to be asked the size of my closet by a guy I hadn’t seen in three months.

Usually it’s not that hard to differentiate the valid questions or genuinely curious (if overly so,)  from the simply annoying. This question didn’t hit a single validity marker, so I told him to get lost. Little did I know.

“But,” he interjected, “my friend’s father designs closets for Orthodox Jews’ houses and he says they’re all like, room-sized. Like the size of this classroom,” (roughly 30 by 15).

And suddenly, the idiocy of such stereotypes struck me. I said, “Dude, you know I live in a tiny apartment. Do you think I have a room-sized closet?”

He is surprisingly silent for a few second. “Uh, no…”

“And do you think that all Orthodox Jews have room-sized closets? The ones living in poverty? The ones living with a whole big family in a city that fits two children and a dog on a good day?”

“Uh, no, but…”

I didn’t let him finish. “Do you want me to tell you that there are wealthy Orthodox Jews out there? Sure, I’ll tell you. There are wealthy Orthodox Jews out there. Are all of us wealthy? Think, Dude, think.”

And I walked away in disgust. Oops?

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Published in: on December 5, 2009 at 8:00 PM  Comments (1)  

Frumgirl 1: Reconstructionist Fashion Advice

Here’s a question of the day: why would anyone ask a frumguy fashion advice?

You’d think that one look at the lack of deviation and stylistic flair the typical frumguy sports on an informal daily basis would be enough to warn people off. Maybe, if it were a frumgirl doing the asking, one may optimistically believe the average frumguy knows something of clothes actually worth hearing through exposure. Otherwise, in my experience, you may as well ask an Innuit about swimsuit design for all the decent fashion expertise you’re likely to receive.

Perhaps it was the belief that frummies know every single minutaie about Judaism that prompted the Long Island classmate to ask the class Hassidic Dude whether a particular dress of hers was appropriate for a Bat Mitzvah in a Reconstructionist temple. He looked a little lost, so I helped him out.

What I should have said was to wear whatever she’d feel comfortable wearing to a church.

Instead, I provided my standard non-frummie propriety standards; of hemline, sleeves, and neckline, only one may be skimped upon.

It was the wrong thing to say. The dress she intended to wear was extremely low cut, had no sleeves, and fell on the shorter side of mid-thigh. Frumgirl 1: 0  Social awkwardness: 50

On the other hand, the Hassidic Dude has been inside a Reconstructionist temple the same number of times as I have: zero. Given that the Long Island girl didn’t know this, I’m going to assume she fell prey to the Hassidim-know-everything stereotype rather than wonder on her perception of my fashion acuity, having gone to him instead of me.

Published in: on March 18, 2009 at 1:19 PM  Comments (2)  

Frumgirl 1: Scallions

“You’re Sephardic?” asked the southern baptist black woman of the patient in the next chair over thumbing a Parenting magazine. She’s had prolonged exposure to all sorts of frummies, and can even tell the differences, apparently.

“Yes, I am,” replied the woman politely, social smile gracing her face, “I’m Persian.”

“So that means that you beat the groom with a scallion at the wedding?”

W-wait a second there. Where’d she get that one from? Sure, I’m all for beating grooms with things at weddings, but scallions strike me as not particularly effective weapons. And who wants a scallion-smelling groom, anyway?

Published in: on March 5, 2009 at 6:52 PM  Comments (7)  

Frumgirl 1: Unconscious Innuendo

I don’t like posting about things that frummies do in non-orthodox environments to make themselves look incredibly silly and perpetuate stereotypes. Regardless of how much they may make me wish we were not affiliated with each other, I generally don’t make a big deal about it. This particular issue, however, I feel is worth writing about.

Frummies are sheltered. I get that. Frummies have different standards of normalcy. Non-frummies get that. There are, however, limits to what can be considered venial offenses. Some things just go too far.

Now, I publicly call myself a frummie, but one that grew up with movies, (sometimes a TV,) and a voracious appetite for all types of books. Despite my film-like “exposure,” to public media, I have yet to develop into what’s called a guttermind. That’s the word I use for people who think about intimate matters with such regularity so as search through completely innocent comments for hints of innuendo. Despite the darkroom effect of grad school, I have gone no further towards becoming one. Either I mysteriously upgraded from analog to digital image capturing somewhere along the line or Bais Yaakov highly eggagerated matters on yet another aspect of the “outside world.”

Bais Yaakovs would have their girls think that all males, and especially non-orthodox males, are gutterminds of the worst sort. This, folks, is not true. Yes, I am sure. Some guys are, I’m not denying that, but some are definitely not. And guttermindedness is not restricted to the males half of the specie, some females are even worse.

Growing up sheltered and being placed into the company of gutterminds for the first time might excuse the occaisional mildly gutterable comment. It is NOT a condonation to use unwittingly blatant innuendo, or for what actually goes on.

Which happens. It happens so often and to such a degree that I am forced to wonder if some of it might not be intentional. No, I guess it can’t be. People really are that clueless.

It is best demonstrated by example. I am cringing and turning red merely typing this, but if I don’t is impossible to understand what I mean. And the severity and prevalence of its occurrence.

A frum classmate of mine has a sore throat. She changed her facebook status to read that she wishes for something hot in her throat. Except she used more adjectives, and worded it slightly differently. It was not pretty.

She was wishing for a tea, or chicken soup if she could get it. I know she meant it completely innocently. Her phrasing was…unfortunate. There was, in fact, no way to avoid the innuendo. No guttermindedness needed.

It gets worse.

I see and hear an appalling amount of…dare I say it? Not entirely straight intimations.

Every single day.

Completely innocent, and yet so, so…

Here’s an example: “slept with” is a standard Americans euphemism for “had relations with.” Frummie girls do usually know this (thankfully,) and are carefull not to use it in reference to separate-room-literal-sleep with males. Still, I hear that particular combination of words all the time in reference to literal comatose shuteye in the vicinity of other females.

Combine it with the Frummie girl tendency to stand too close to one another and have more physical contact than the usual straight American friendly population. And then they say things like “I slept with her for a year, but we fought a lot so I moved out,” about seminary roommates while resting on another frummie girl’s lap.

Yes, it gets even worse.

I don’t care how sheltered you might be. Some things just don’t fly in public.

If Bais Yaakov girls are going out into the world so socially clueless, I hope the Frum educational administration knows it. I hope they know that there are non-gutterminded people out there who assume all frumgirls are lesbian because of it.

It bothers me exceedingly.

Published in: on September 24, 2008 at 10:15 PM  Comments (13)  

Frumgirl 1: The Kosher Collusion

When you ask the rank and file what kosher means, they’ll tell you, in exactly these words, that a “Rabbi comes down and blesses the food.”

What I have always wondered is where people get this from. Not so much the concept, but the words. Exactly the same words come out of all sorts mouths; I’ve heard it from 80 year old black geezers and Asian Wellesley students alike.

Is there a movie someplace responsible for it?

The concept is rather strange, as well. Is there something in other religions that simply requires a clergyman to bless it before it is considered to be fit for consumption?

Oh, wait. I suppose that if wine and bread can be considered blood and flesh (I have never understood the desire to eat one’s object of worship/salvation,) based on a clergyman’s words, anything is possible.

Where do the non-religious people get the concept from? More importantly, where are they all getting it from in conjunction with one another that they all use exactly the same wording?

Now, I have done my part to correct this gross misinformation by explaining to those that ask what kosher means. Namely, that we have a Rabbi go down to the plant, factory, or kitchen to make sure that no non-kosher ingredients, processes, or machinery are used for the production of our food. But I’d really like to know who the culprit for this one is.

Published in: on August 5, 2008 at 9:05 PM  Comments (5)  

Frumgirl 1: Shaved by the Bells

Right after I got married, when I still bothered to wear my fall every day, I encountered one of the stranger misconceptions about Orthodox Judaism.

“I thought all Jewish women shave their heads after marriage,” came out a black female classmate. This was news. Who tells people these things?

“Who told you this?” I asked. Was someone spreading rumors like that for fun?

“I don’t know, it’s just common knowledge.” Common knowledge? I’ve never met anyone else with that bit of “common” misconception. I wasn’t going to press it, though.

“So what’d you think when I showed up with this?” I pointed to my fall+hat.

I had dyed my hair to match my sheitels two months before my wedding instead of going nuts about duplicating my natural head. The transition from hair to fall was almost imperceptible. I don’t know why nobody else does it in that direction, even if they don’t have the two hundred shade hair color that wasn’t going to match anything perfectly like I did. It’s just so much less stress.

“I just thought you didn’t have to,” she admitted.

I readied myself, girding and guarding, and gleefully admitted, “This is a wig.”

“You’re kidding, right?” I started to shake my head no. “So you did have to shave your head?”

Her expression was priceless, so I set her straight.

“Nah, that only Hassidic Jews, and not all of those, either,”

One day I’ll figure out who told her Jewish women shave their heads.

Published in: on May 11, 2008 at 12:03 PM  Comments (2)