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Family Fiction: Honey Redefined

Esther Neiman

You’d think a girl would at least try to pretend she’s sweet and wonderful when talking to a shadchan, but Bracha’s very honest. Too much so.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016


Photo: Shutterstock

My sisters and I drink tea. A lot. With sugar, milk, and loads of honey. 

Most people, when they hear about our favorite comfort drink, ask, “What? Honey? Along with milk?” Yep, that’s what makes all that goodness explode in a teacup. And we’re not even being original. Think of Eretz Yisrael, the land of milk and honey. 

Tea is like a panacea of sorts. It calms me when I’m anxious, wakes me up when I’m sleepy, and keeps me company when I’m bored. Truthfully, the third rarely happens, but when I sip piping hot tea at an empty table, there’s no need for an orange juice carton to read or company to talk to. 

As I sip my tea, while my little Shloimy takes his morning nap, I think about my sister Bracha. She’s 24 and single. And cynical. Not that I can blame her. 

The problem is that her cynicism sort of leaks into phone lines when she talks to shadchanim. Which is a problem. You’d think a girl would at least try to pretend that she’s sweet and wonderful when talking to a shadchan, but Bracha’s very honest. Too much so. 

So there she is, stuck in a rut, and when I tell her to pick herself up and act her age, she tells me that I can’t judge her. And she’s right. 

Watching my tea swirl round and round in my mug, I decide that it may be a good idea for her to chill. I pick up the phone and call her. She answers on the fourth ring. “Hello?” 

“Hi, Bracha, it’s me. How’re you?” 

“Good?” She makes it sound like a question. Like, okay, what next? 

“You have the day off today, right?” 

“Yep. It’s Wednesday.” 

“And my girls are in school. How about we go shopping? I’m not sure where yet, but I’m in the mood of purely recreational shopping. No lists.” 

“Sounds like fun, but I have a wedding tonight so I have to be back early.” 

I check my watch. “No problem.”

Photo: Shutterstock

A little past noon, I find myself browsing a third shop that sells everything and nothing. I look over at Bracha and can read on her face that she’s found something little and cute. And red. She has a weakness for little, cute, red things. The desk in her room has a collection that includes a tiny red thimble, a set of red salt-and-pepper shakers, and miniature red hats of various styles, among other knickknacks — red, of course — that have tickled her fancy. She bought the first few items because she liked them, but then the rest of her collection had to match. 

I give a mental shrug and wander over to get a peek at the reason for that look of utter rapture. Sitting on the shelf is a set of four tiny, red pitchers on a tiny, red tray. The first reads tea, the second sugar, the third milk, and the fourth — drumroll! — honey. I have to admit it’s pretty cute. 

“See?” Bracha asks excitedly. 

“Mm-hmm. Cute.” 

She looks annoyed. “Is that all you can say? Cute?” 

“Yeah, because it is cute. But I dunno about it being red. It looks like it would need fleishig milk or something.”

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