I have never felt more out of place than in the company of religious Jews. I went to a southern Baptist funeral once, and compared to the former, it felt like a close familial occasion. It was really pleasant, aside from the decaying corpse in the open casket at the front of the stage with that strong, detectable stench emanating throughout the tiny room. I was trepidatious about going in as we parked because being a sheltered white kid from a sheltered home in a sheltered suburb protected by a sheltered sheltie, I had previously not been confined to a room containing more than one black person. Now, I was about to walk into one containing not 2, but 84.
Though I felt out of place the entire time, it was okay because it was a new experience and I was supposed to feel out of place since I was (am) not a southern Baptist. However, I am Jewish, and this is why I feel so bad when in the company of religious Jews. They are very nice. That is the extent of our similarities. The house is always cramped and hot, and the religious mores always outweigh the pleasures of the company of others. Also, this should not be understated: the food never comes. I always go in after being promised food. Though the food does eventually come, it is usually about three days and 87 small-talk topics later. When the food comes, it’s extremely weird. I swear to God one of the dishes tonight was a mixture of bell peppers, raisins, melted cheese, and pineapples. You have to eat it because you’re so hungry that by this point you would eat much, much worse. On second thought, there is nothing worse than the combination of the four foods I just described.
Also, at these events, people try to set me up a lot, which is usually fine. Though I can never argue with the idea of a woman liking me, I want to say something like, “Yeah, but I also want to be able to do things in life like eat things that aren’t bell peppers, raisins, melted cheese, and pineapples. I also want to be able to not have to produce 16 children within a period of six months.” In a couple of years, though, I will be out of time, and will have to settle with one of these women and start making good use of my fertilization skills.