Ok so I was stupid enough to go to the local kosher store in my skants. My skirt was black, almost ankle length, very kosher, but the pink sweatpants underneath couldn’t help but peek through. Had a bandanna on my head – all my hair was covered. Apparently because I am dressed so modern it’s obvious I don’t understand Yiddish. (like Duh!!)
Ok let me breathe for a second here. I bumped into a friend at the cash and we were catching up. There was this woman there who I have seen around but I don’t know who she is, just that she seems to know everyone. So I am chatting with my friend as the cashier is ringing up her stuff. We talk about Pesach, and I happened to say “there is no way I am making Pesach in two places”. If you know my life story at this point, you understand what I mean.
This yenta woman butts in to a private conversation and asks why would you need to make Pesach in two places? Lady, it ain’t none of your business – I wanted to say that but instead I just said a dismissive but polite “it’s complicated”. She doesn’t need to know my business. She wasn’t happy with my answer because she had an apparent need to know. Was in desperate need of some new gossip to spread. So she talks to the cashier in Yiddish and asks him about MY life. What’s her name she says, and what’s her story? Then HE has the chutzpah, the cashier, to tell her (in Yiddish because of course there is no way I could possibly understand what with being modern and all) that my husband lives in NY and I live here. You could see her antenna rising faster by the second. Oh yes, here’s a juicy story. She asks him again what my name is. He tells her in Yiddish that he has no clue what my new name is – it was a second marriage. Flippin’ Nora people – do I have no right to privacy? The cashier knows me – same community etc….can he not keep his mouth shut?
She starts peppering me with questions, I try to ignore her and talk to my friend, who is quite horrified herself, and eventually she asks if I am new in town. I tell her, no, I have been here for 16 years. Oh, she says, I never saw you before. Big frigging whoop – there are 90 000 Jews here in Montreal. One of them you didn’t meet, and one of them you don’t have the gossip on. Deal with it!!
She turns to the cashier again, and asks him, again in Yiddish (and she has paid for her stuff before this, she is just hanging round to socialize) if he knew me, or my family – our yichus (pedigree). By now my friend has left and on her way out she shot me a look of disbelief that I was actually keeping my temper, and the cashier is ringing up my purchases. Still motor mouth is going strong. Where do you live, where do your kids go to school, what does your husband do…..I work hard at ignoring her.
As I picked up my purchases and walked by her, I said to her in my imperfect but understandable Yiddish with a very cutting tone – when it comes to Yom Kippur and you klop al cheit (strike your chest as remorse for sins committed), remember me and how you tried so hard to stick your big nose into my business, how you had no respect for another Jew, how you made another person uncomfortable just so that you could have more rechilus and loshon hora (gossip) to go tell your friends.
I stalked off with my head held high and did not look back. I shouldn’t have said anything but it was so galling. How do people have the chutzpah to blatantly dig into someone’s life just for the heck of it? The cashier – I had respect for him. I did. No longer. I feel like he paid no heed to my feelings at all. And the whole Yiddish thing?? ARGH!!