Saturday, July 19, 2008

What is a schlemazel?

Many Yiddish words have found their way into the common vernacular. The schlemazel is a person with perpetual bad luck. A schlemiel is a waiter who trips over his own feet and spills soup on a customer. The customer who gets the hot soup in his lap is the schlemazel.

Al Capp (Kaplon) in his cartoon "Lil' Abner" featured a character with an unpronounceable name who perpetually had his own dark raincloud above his head. This was the schlemazel.

A schlemazel cannot escape his fate.

Sol dropped out of high school when his mother became a widow an took a job as a roustabout in a furniture store.

After taking night school classes, he became a bookkeeper spending long hours in a corner of the storeroom with his green eye shade recording numbers under a single sixty watt globe.

Most comfortable in his studio apartment listening to his CD's, he sometimes was invited to accompany the raucous sales crew to lunch or dinner. Habitually, when introductions were made to table hoppers he was by-passed and waitresses either forgot to take his order or brought him the wrong entree.

One morning Sol woke to a rustling noise beside him. Standing there in his little room was the angel of death.

Sol, I have come for you. It is your time but looking at the record of your life I find it totally without blemish. I am granting you twenty four hours to go out and do one reprehensible deed as only God is perfect.

Sol wandered the streets imagining scenario after scenario of dastardly deeds only to reject them.

As the twenty fourth hour approached, he decided to return to his room and let the angel decide his fate.

As he neared his room, a door opened. Miss Schwartz, the spinster who was his neighbor all these years opened her door to let her cat out.

Filled with frustration and without thinking Sol burst through the partially open door grabbed the hapless lady threw her to the floor and had his way with her.

As he turned to leave the room in shame, he heard her exclaim. Sol, I am a lonely old maid. I thought I would never know love. You have done a mitzvah ( obligatory good deed) I will mention you in my prayers.

(Story based on one in a Yiddish/English dictionary)


Blogger Danny Barer said...

If living a life without blemish is a sin, it is plainly impossible,since the act of doing so would in itself be a sin.

Obviously, Sol needed a good lawyer.

Perhaps Daniel Webster. He had experience in this area.

5:28 PM  
Blogger Alan L. Barer said...

THe Devil you say!

11:00 AM  
Blogger Alan L. Barer said...

Actually striving to build a good resume just for the purpose of upgrading one's afterlife is a sin but poor Sol was a schlemazel so he flopped into that category without intention.

11:09 AM  

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