‘Closing up shop’

There’s something different about marrying off a daughter, especially the only daughter. For better or worse, we’re more protective of our daughter.

June 27, 2019 17:04
‘Closing up shop’

There’s something different about marrying off a daughter, especially the only daughter. For better or worse, we’re more protective of our daughter. (photo credit: PEPE FAINBERG)


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So there I was, sitting with The Wife watching television the other day.

“Honey, I’m bored,” I complained.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “What do you want to do?”

“Oh, I dunno. Why don’t we marry off another kid?”

Then, just like that, The Lass, the only daughter in our four-child brood, announced her engagement.

“Mazal tov,” said a neighbor. “What’s it been, three weeks since your last wedding?” The neighbor exaggerated: it’s been eight.

If all goes as planned and the wedding halls are available for the nights and the price the young couple wants, we’re looking at a pre-Rosh Hashanah wedding, meaning that we are to marry off three kids in the span of 10 months, four in just over two years.

And, as I had the opportunity to write just four months ago after The Lad proposed to his girlfriend just two months after his younger brother’s nuptials, “That is a lot of ku-lu-lu-lu-lus.” I can now add another “lu.”

Call it the copycat effect, or the nobody-really-wants-to-be-stuck-alone-with-the-parents-on-Shabbat syndrome.

Another friend called it the “pickle corollary” – it’s always tough getting that first pickle out of the jar, but once you pry the first one loose, it’s so much easier to extract all the others.

Not, heaven forbid, that I’m likening my kids to pickles, or that I wanted to extract any of them from anywhere. Yet the point is salient.

WITH AN eight-year gap between the birth of my oldest and my youngest, one would have thought that there would have been an equivalent time lapse in marrying off the children. One would have thought that there would have been some spacing; time to prepare emotionally; time to at least get the photo albums from the last wedding; time to replenish the bank account.

One would have been mistaken.

But I have no complaints, because this one is special.

They are all special, of course.

“We love you all the same,” The Wife and I told each kid when they were small and asked us – as all kids ask their parents – whom we love the most, who is our favorite.

And while we love ‘em all equally, this engagement is special because it’s the last one, and because it’s the only girl. There’s something different about marrying off a daughter, especially the only daughter. For better or worse, we’re more protective of our daughter.

This one is also special because of the unique way The Lass met her Intended.

Nope, they were not fixed up by friends or relatives, as is customary in their circles, nor did they meet on the Internet, in a bar, or via the services of a matchmaker. They met the old-fashioned way: on a train.

That’s right, a train – just like in early-20th-century Russia, just like in a Boris Pasternack novel. Okay, it wasn’t a steam engine traveling from the shtetl to the big city of St. Petersburg, and the future groom wasn’t a wide-eyed Trotskyite wearing round, wire-rimmed glasses and a scarf to protect him from the cold.

No, it was the light rail in Jerusalem. And while the future son-in-law was not a Communist revolutionary sporting spectacles, the bride-to-be did wear a scarf – and it’s a darned good thing she did.

“That’s a nice scarf,” The Intended said to The Lass with a pick-up line for the ages as they got off the train at the same stop. The rest is history.

The moral of the story: parents, fret not about your kids getting married, it’ll happen when it happens. Just make sure they ride public transportation. In fact, spring for their fare, buy them their Rav-Kav card, encourage them to ride.

And to the kids: pick your heads up from the cell phone on the bus and train and look around – you never know what you might see, or who you might find. Also, look presentable on public transportation and don’t be afraid to talk to strangers – even in the #Metoo era. But do it respectfully, always respectfully. “That’s a nice scarf” is an example of respectful.  

THE LASS’ engagement is an end to an era – the era of my kids dating. I thought dating was a trauma when I went through it, but that was nothing compared to watching my four kids endure it.

First, there is the concern about when they will meet someone, then where they will meet someone, then who that someone is. Then comes the worry that their hearts will be broken, or that they will break the heart of someone else – whose parents are just as concerned about their kids’ emotional well-being as you are of yours. It’s a roller-coaster ride for all concerned.

Not that my kids – any of them – kept us in the loop, or volunteered a lot of information. But that didn’t even matter.

When they didn’t volunteer particulars, I was annoyed that I had no idea what was going on in a key area of their lives. Yet when they did confide in me, and it became complicated, I was annoyed at what they told me.

 I’m wired such that I like to know the beginning of a story, and the happy end – especially when it comes to my kids – and can skip all the messy details in the middle. How does the saying go? “Too much information.”

Now, thank God, that is behind us, and all that is left to do is to get that scarf bronzed and rejoice that – as the Hebrew saying goes – we can now close up shop (lisgor et habasta). As any olive, spice and pickle merchant in Mahaneh Yehuda will tell you after shuttering his stall on Friday afternoon at the end of a hard workweek, there’s always great relief closing up the basta.

Not, heaven forbid, that I’m likening my kids to pickles… but still.

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