Wednesday, March 11, 2015


Growing up I was always breaking things, so much so that I considered myself to be a real schlemiel and I was so unlucky I felt like an honest schlimazel. Of course, not being Jewish, I never used those words to describe me. No, I just felt I was the focal point of bad luck and the epitome of clumsiness and it embarrassed the hell out of me.

I remember my parents bought a glass-top table for the dining room and one day I was leaning on it and the glass shattered. I felt mortified and I remember going to my room and crying for what seemed like hours about it, my mother coming in every now and then to say it was not my fault, just an accident. But I knew. I was so embarrassed, it was my bad luck.

I remember later playing whiffle ball at a friend’s house where we had made a baseball diamond in his side yard, with wooden bases and how I hit a home run and in running the bases I cracked home plate in two when I stepped on it. They called me a cloddish, clumsy oaf. I was embarrassed, but I didn't cry in front of them, I waited till I went to bed that night for that. I was a schlemiel and a schlimazel, and it seemed like my childhood was a long list of embarrassing events strung together, a gauntlet of humiliation that I had to traverse to reach adulthood.

I remember the first time I met my fiancé's parents. It was at a high-end restaurant and they had gotten there first. They both stood as we approached the table and Tina said, "Daddy, this is Tony. Tony, my Father." He had one of those firm let's-just-see-what-the-hell-you-are-made-of handshakes that try to crack your fingers, but I was prepared for that and gave as good as I got. I think he was impressed.

Tina's mother was a rare, stunning beauty, almost regal in looks and demeanor. "Momma, this is Tony. Tony, my Mother." She had a presence about her. I almost felt I should take her hand and kiss it, but I didn't. Instead I bent slightly at the waist and shook her hand gently and as I did so, I broke wind.

Copyright 2015 Barry Keller. All rights reserved.

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