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Cleaning out the closet? What about those things we wish society would get rid of? Nine writers share the things they wish they could toss

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

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CAN’T WE JUST GET RID OF… Truth be told, I looked great on paper — so normal, so conventional — but talk to my first reference and you’d know that, while everything on my résumé was true, it didn’t begin to touch on who I was. Because people are not paper

We’re going through our closets, trashing expired medication, giving away those skirts we’ll never wear again. What about those things we wish society would get rid of? Nine writers share the things they wish they could toss…

Shidduch Résumés

Esther Kurtz
My kids are not in shidduchim, so I shouldn’t have a voice. But my brother was in shidduchim recently — he married in August — and I helped my mother sift through the suggestions.

I’m good at that — comparison shopping. If you ever need to figure out which product to choose between two or many, I’m your girl. I line them up, makes lists of qualities, weigh pros versus cons, consider what you need and why, along with your budget, and then make a decision. Pragmatic and rational, that’s me.

So this shidduch-résumé business is right up my logical alley… but people are not computers or treadmills; they’re only slightly more nuanced. Résumés are dehumanizing and, if you really think about it, quite counterintuitive.

People say the résumé makes the process easier — but that’s just an illusion.

Résumés make people less invested in the person because they think everything they need to know is on that paper. Yet there’s a huge difference when a live person tells you the same information. It’s never like the cold list of a résumé; it always comes with commentary… (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 536)

Matching Outfits

Esty Heller

Bowtie notwithstanding, navy cords with an orange V-neck sweater didn’t make an especially cute outfit for a one-year-old boy. Any feinschmecker would agree. Yet I trekked the cyberspace globe to put together this tacky ensemble: Zara, Vertbaudet, Gap, Next Direct, even (gasp!) AliExpress.

I neeeded to do this. My daughter — she was three at the time — had this adorable orange-and-navy plaid dress (Zulily), and when we go for a professional photo shoot, my kids match.

It’s become such a given; the cheshbonos begin when I learn my baby’s gender at the 20-week sonogram. Matching a girl and a boy had been an epitomic pain. Two boys will be a breeze.

Only… I have two years’ worth of boys’ clothing in storage. In mint condition.

I can’t use any of it. I can’t pass down the gray velvet Tartine et Chocolat knickers, even if they’re still completely à la mode and Big Brother wore it a grand total of four times, because what will said Big Brother wear? For what do I have adjacent boys, if not to dress them the same?

I admit, matching siblings — or at least coordinating — is adorable. Chol Hamoed, picture day, Chanukah parties. And kaparos shlugen, never forget. But (whisper) there are four days of Chol Hamoed. That’s four sets of coordinates. Plus Shabbos. And three days of Yom Tov… (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 536)

Grudges

Chaia Frishman

I’m trying hard to remember when I learned about the Great Shampoo Shortage of 1867. What else could have planted the fear that spurs me to buy more Pantene?

Upon purging the pharmaceutical pantry, I uncovered — besides numerous hair cleansers — one lemon-scented salt scrub, 12 expired boxes of Albuterol, six bottles of contact-lens solution (I only wear glasses), and two avian-flu protection kits to be used in case of, well, emergency. (A gift from a neurotic friend.)

Like mitzvah goreres mitzvah, cleaning one area leads one to attack all rooms in the house. Cleaning also creates a vicious case of nostalgia when I sort through my closets. As I stroke the “first date with my husband” sweater and “baby’s first blanket sleeper,” memories taunt me: “Will you hold on to these moments if you discard this tangible reminder?”

Luckily, I have an antidote. It’s called the “in case of emergency effect.” When I vacillate about the necessity of an item, I ponder, If G-d forbid, forces of nature permanently evict me from my home suddenly (not avian flu though — I have that covered), would I remember that I owned a houndstooth blazer and matching Looney Tunes ties from Purim 1996? More importantly, would I care? (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 536)

Size Zero

Faigy Peritzman

“Excuse me, do you have this skirt in navy in a zero?”

I turn to glare at my fellow shopper. Of course she’s rail thin. But zero?! If things are measured on a scale of one to ten, does size zero mean you don’t exist?

Sure enough, the saleslady has a navy size zero. I glance down at the skirt I’m holding, lay it gently on the counter, and walk out of the store.

How could I compete with nothing? (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 536)

Snooze Buttons

Rochel Grunewald

The snooze button on my alarm clock has been broken for the longest time. I think that’s a good thing. If I had the chance to toss an object, a concept, an idea from our society, the snooze button would come high on the list.

When I mention this to an older friend, she laughs and says she remembers when the first alarm clocks with snooze buttons came out. Apparently, they were a modern invention, treated with equal parts suspicion and delight. Some people jumped at the idea, while others specifically wanted the older models, without that pesky temptation to lure them back into dangerous slumber.

It’s not the snooze button itself that bothers me. I can always switch that off. It’s the Snooze Mentality, the idea that morning routine can be postponed, that we can indulge in those extra minutes of slumber — sleep we can barely enjoy for the knowledge that our alarm will intrude once again in nine minutes’ time. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 536)

Brand Names

Miriam Klein Adelman

I used to think that when I grew up and recognized the absurdity of freely advertising for some stranger in Paris by wearing his initials on my jacket, I would be done.

But now my little dears are following in my footsteps.

Sometimes I fantasize about a brand-nameless world. A place I could be an individual of value even without a designer name on my handbag. I could actually walk out of my house in my comfortable, brand-free sneakers. My daughter would not sigh and shake her head or frantically pull at my shoes as I make my way out the door. “You can’t go out like that, Ma! Wear your Uggs.” (I mean, really, what kind of name is that? It sounds like somebody feeling ill.)

I think about her often. How did she survive school without a single friend for support? How does a young child keep a secret like that?

My blood pressure would be normal, anxiety attacks nil, because I wouldn’t worry about hearing the words, “Hi, Ma, I need a belt,” when my son calls from yeshivah. Which I know means that he desperately wants, excuse me, needs a designer belt — for the bargain price of $175. On sale. Not that I would buy it for him, but when I don’t, inevitably, I encounter his palpable disappointment… (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 536)

Oversized Furniture

Faigy Schonfeld

As a frum woman, I know about living life within the confines of halachah, along with the formalities and meshugassen of frum culture. But on top of that, I’m privy to another layer: frum Hungarian culture.

Being of Hungarian descent means growing up with a lot of wonderful things, including staunch admiration for all things tradition, warmth that bubbles over and fills every crevice of our homes, and a propensity for elegance — in clothing, cooking, and… dining rooms.

Where I live, tiny, misshapen spaces are snagged by eagle-eyed brides, tagged as dining rooms, and become the stage upon which these future hostesses are to receive the world.

A few years back I did that too, filling one snug little room with enormous, fancy furniture, sweetly laying out a tablet and a matching wooden vase with opaque green and honey flowers.

Only these days, the world I receive consists of a wild(ish) two-year-old who loves screwdrivers, popcorn, and Play-Doh, and an infant whose preferred mode of transportation is that of a tumbleweed. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 536)

Anti-Aging products

Rivka Streicher

She stands at the mirror, peering into its depths, frowning at herself. She rubs and smears, smiles tautly, unhappily. I frown too, to see her struggle, to watch her wrestle with her age in the harsh blankness of the mirror. How long she will keep trying?

It’s an industry built on the celebration of youth. The anti-aging industry, of course. I don’t support it — yet. I’m years away from that, so I’m probably not one to talk. But as I watch my aunt strain in the mirror, I think that, if given the chance, I’d like to toss it all: the creams, the toners, the magic potions, everything that promises to make you look years younger.

There’s a message in there: You were better before... (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 536)

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