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Musings: Where’s He Gone?

Shira Berger

“May you be blessed with triplets this year,” my husband says as he grabs his childless cousin’s hand, pumping it up and down. I cringe

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

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PURIM LOW It seems as if everyone loves those moments. Everyone but me. I think about the two empty bottles of wine in the recycling bin. The two my husband has said are “just strong enough to give him simchas Yom Tov.” And just enough to get me… disgusted? Embarrassed? Upset? Resentful?

"N o drinking in my house,” my mother-in-law says, eyeing the bottle of wine my brother-in-law removes from his bag.

“Ma, it’s just one day,” he says.

My husband nudges him with an elbow. “Put it away. We can dance without getting drunk.”

How comforting; my new husband isn’t sold on the belief that Purim and drinking are synonymous.

By the morrow, though, I find I’ve been naive. Seems like my husband has exemplary kibbud av v’eim, and will not drink in his mother’s house. That doesn’t mean he won’t drink at all.

It starts at noon, when he returns home from delivering mishloach manos to his rosh yeshivah. Arms draped loosely around his chavrusa’s shoulders, he waltzes into the house, singing V’nahafoch hu in a tone of voice generally used by… well, not those who are very sober.

I’ve never quite dealt with an inebriated individual before, so I pretend not to notice.

“We haven’t been to your grandmother yet,” I remind him. “Let’s go now.” Because being in our small apartment when you’re this way is suffocating.

Every person we meet on the short walk is treated to a loud greeting, and if they’re lucky, a hearty backslap.

I can’t believe this is my low-key, refined, husband. This is so embarrassing! What is he doing? He’s not a yeshivah bochur anymore! I cross the street and pretend not to know him. He’s so busy greeting passersby, he doesn’t even notice.

At Bubby’s house, costumed kids stand around my husband, hanging on to his every word, and men in various states of inebriation goad each other into nonsensical song and nonsensical conversation. Bubby winks at me, as if to share the delights of the metamorphosis. I see no delight, and definitely no secret in this loud, uncharacteristic behavior.

“May you be blessed with triplets this year,” my husband says as he grabs his childless cousin’s hand, pumping it up and down.

If it bothers you so much, why don’t you say so? I deliberate. Well, for starters, I don’t want to be a controlling wife

I cringe — and pray that the uncle with several single daughters doesn’t walk in. Where has his tact gone!?!

As we leave, I stumble over a small stone I haven’t noticed.

“Are you okay?” my husband asks quietly, suddenly back to his old, refined self.

I deliberate over whether I should play the game, just so that I get him back. I’ve never been a good actor though, so I admit that I’m perfectly fine. It’s nice to know that he’s not really drunk though.

“Good,” he says loudly, and goes right back to his oddly pitched songs.

Year after year after year, the pattern continues. Husband drinks just about enough to give him a high and make me hide the car keys. Though he never gets knocked out cold, and appears in all the right places at all the right times, he’s just so uncharacteristically loud and brash and immature. Embarrassingly so. Though I’m the only one who seems to think so… (excerpted)

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