Busybody: “So, how’s married life? Have you changed your last name yet?”
Me: “It’s great! No, I haven’t. I’m not sure it’s necessary to legally change it.”
Busybody: “Oh my god really? I couldn’t WAIT to change my name.”
Me: “Ok. Well, to each her own! I mean I’ll informally use Eric’s last name, I’m happy for people to call me Emily Taylor, and to introduce myself that way. Just don’t see the need to go through a legal process. But we’ll see, maybe one day.”
Busybody: “His last name is Taylor? What’s yours?”
Busybody: “Oh, honey. You should change it. Taylor is a great last name– then people won’t know what you are.”
Me (silent, confused pause): “You mean…a Jew?”
Me: (blank stare)
Busybody: “Sometimes it’s just better, in certain circumstances, that people don’t know, you know?”
So now I’m keeping Lerman just to spite you.
I already blew it.
Me: “With everything going on in our country right now, I’m honestly just so horrified and saddened as a human in general– but as a Jew in particular, as I know you can relate–”
Therapist: “Oh I’m actually not Jewish.”
Me: “You’re NOT?! But your last name–”
Therapist: “I know. A common Jewish last name. People often assume I am Jewish.”
Me: “But I feel like I’ve had all these insider only-jews-would-get-this kind of exchanges with you.”
Therapist: “Hmm. I didn’t interpret them that way.”
Therapist: “What are you thinking?”
Me: “Oh, oh nothing. This obviously doesn’t change anything.”
I just have to re-think every piece of advice you’ve ever given me.
That moment when your rabbi Venmo’s you a wedding gift.
I’m in the elevator and an elderly lady walks in…
Lady (after staring at me for 10 seconds): “Are you pregnant?”
Me: “No. I am not. And honestly, this is the second time this has happened to me in an elevator and I don’t understand why.”
Lady: “It’s the way you’re holding your stomach. Makes it seem like something’s in there.”
Me: “Yeah, there is. Dairy. I’m Jewish.”
Lady: “Ah. Enough said.”
Discussing fasting on Yom Kippur with a Jewish friend…
Arriving at tutoring client’s apartment…
Parent: “L’shana tova! Did you celebrate Rosh Hashana last night?”
Me: “Why thank you! Yes, I did celebrate!”
Parent: “That’s great. Which temple did you go to?”
Oh. No, no.
I just meant that I ate brisket.
The following story should beautifully illustrate for all of you why I walk around this world in a constant state of panic, with the assumption that at any point in time, I will do something epically dumb/awkward/socially unacceptable/spastic that will leave me slapping myself for years to come.
A few weeks ago, one of my best friends, Adam, asked me to sign the ketubah at his wedding, which occurred last night (*note to the non-Jews– a ketubah is a Jewish marriage contract between the bride and groom. It requires the signature of some Jewish witnesses. In this case, me and three other Jewish friends of the couple.) My first thought was “What an honor!” and my immediate second thought was “Christ, what does that entail?!” (No, just kidding. I definitely thought the Christ thing first.)
I’ve never signed a ketubah at a wedding, and I had heard various stories about how it works– one friend of mine had to write a bunch of shit in Hebrew, a task this barely-Jew is CLEARLY incapable of without at least one month of practice. Another friend said he had to write his entire address in cursive. As we recently established, I do not know how to write a cursive t, much less any other letter that is not part of my name. I could envision me standing there with a shaky hand, taking 45 minutes to pen the words “New York” with the same skill and accuracy as Billy Madison writing “Rizzuto,” while Adam puts his head in his hands and silently wishes he had just asked his 98-year-old senile great aunt to do this instead. (Note: Adam does not actually have an old, senile great aunt. I’m just saying, if he did, she would have been the better choice).
“No, no,” Adam assured me. “You literally just have to sign your name. No Hebrew, no extraneous cursive. We are making this as easy as possible for everyone involved.”
And then, in what can only be labeled the most unrealistic notion to ever enter my psyche, I thought, “Oh, ok. There’s no way I can fuck this up.”
You see where this is going.
I fucking fucked up the fuck out of it.
“But…but…how is that even possible?” you say. “You just had to write your name! You literally just had to do the one thing you’ve been practicing doing since you were 4 years old!”
Yeah. I know. FOR CHRIST’S SAKE I KNOW.
Here’s what happened. A bunch of guests were gathered in a room, and the rabbi called over the “witnesses.” To me, that meant ALL the witnesses (I’m not the only one who thought this– ALL the ketubah witnesses came over. #throwingmyselfabonehere). The rabbi explained to the first witness standing in front of her, Jon, that he needed to fill out his name and address on the sheet of paper, and “we’ll do the signature part later.” So Jon went first. Then the rabbi turned to me, as I was second in line, so I picked up the pen and went next. Right below Jon’s information, there was a line for the next witness to write in her information. So I did. Full name, full address. In print, not cursive, thank god.
I then passed the pen to the next witness, Melissa. She went to fill out her information but there was no space for a 3rd witness (I had failed to notice this when I filled out my part. I just did what I was told by the rabbi– she has God on her side, people! If a rabbi gives you a task you fucking do it and you don’t ask questions. I later pointed this out to the rabbi, and she was honored that I gave her that much credit and power. Yeah, well. Never again, sister.) Confused, Melissa turned to the rabbi and said, “There are more than two witnesses here but there is no more space.” It is at this point that the rabbi informed us that this was not a form for the ketubah signers– this form was the official marriage license. You know, the paper you use to legally seal your union and prove you are married? That form. That binding, lasting contract. And I was NOT the designated witness for that form. Jon, who filled it out before me and is a best friend of the groom, was. The second witness was supposed to be the best friend of the bride.
I am not the best friend of the bride.
I’m an asshole friend of the groom who wrote on the wrong paper.
A paper that just happened to be the legal marriage license.
“Well, I guess you’re the new witness instead!” said the rabbi casually, thinking that solved the problem, which it clearly did NOT. The bride and groom had obviously very precisely planned who would sign their legal license, and I was not included even a little bit in that plan.
The only saving grace is that I did not actually SIGN the license. I just filled out the form with my information. The actual assigned witness could still sign it at the bottom, but her signature would not match the information I had given. So, in other words– it would not be, you know…legal. Per se.
“I mean….I guess we can just cross it out…” said the rabbi tentatively, clearly never having had to deal with a fuck-up this epic before. “It won’t look great, but it can still be used…”
Every newlywed couple’s dream.
So that’s what happened. The poor girl who was supposed to have had the honor of being the marriage license witness had to draw a line through all my printed information and squeeze hers in on top of it. And for the rest of their lives, Adam and Diana will have proof of my idiocy forever imprinted on a document reflecting the most important, meaningful decision they’ve made in life thus far.
When the ketubah signing part happened afterwards, I managed to get my signature down on the correct line, because I looked the bride dead in the eye and said, “Please show me EXACTLY where to sign.” I then wished the couple a lifetime full of “love, happiness and LAUGHTER,” emphasizing the word laughter in my most dire tone, so as to indicate, “Hey, remember when I screwed up your marriage license? We’re all already laughing about that, right?”
When the whole thing was over, Adam came over to me, gave me a huge, warm bear hug and gently whispered in my ear, “Thank you for ruining my wedding.”
Well you. are. WELCOME.
“Where’d we meet? On an app called J-Swipe. Oh, you don’t know it? Well, it’s an app where Jews can swipe left or right on other Jews. It’s also location-based, so you can see all the Jews in your immediate vicinity. Basically I looked at my app and was like, ‘What’s that, a Jew 2 blocks away? Sounds convenient– let’s do this!’ No no, don’t give me that look. This was not a sleazy late night meeting. I know people refer to J-Swipe as the Jewish Tinder, but it’s really not the same reputation. And besides, Tinder doesn’t even have that slutty rep anymore! I totally know people who have found true love on Tinder. But anyway, I think the fact that it’s a Jewish site makes it inherently less one-night-stand-ish because, I mean, if you’re a Jew specifically looking for another Jew, you presumably are probably wanting more than just a one-night ‘wham bam thank you jewish ma’am?’ Don’t you think?”
“Oh, I’m sorry…I thought we were in the trust tree…in the nest. Are we not?”
— Conversation I envision happening when we meet with our wedding rabbi.