Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Revisionist

If you’re lucky like my two sisters and me, you’ve grown up with your siblings sharing experiences and memories that make a good childhood. As children, we would ice-skate in our backyard, swim in our above-ground pool, go boating with my grandparents and play with the other kids in our neighborhood. It was a nice normal childhood with scraps of weirdness thrown in, but overall, terrific.

As adults, my sisters and I share these memories, along with certain emotional and physical qualities, as brothers and sisters do. However, we’ve grown to be different from one another, making our little marks on the world in our own way and by our own rules. We still share our light-colored eyes, small noses, thick hair and above-average height. We’re politically very liberal. We each delight in good books and good music. We all work hard to make our homes cozy and welcoming. We spoil and love our pets. We obsess over the condition of our feet. Our senses of humor are alike. From there, though, our similarities gradually dissipate.

The Redhead and I will remain in this sisterly petri dish I’m preparing for you today, but The Brunette has sprouted little legs, stepped out the dish and set up camp in the laboratory down the hall-- a kind of old-world, Dickensian, day-camp laboratory, full of difficult needlework, dark cobwebby corners, and where she stands at the sink peeling mountains of potatoes for latkes in the kosher kitchen.

This is why The Redhead and I call her (alternatively) “THE REVISIONIST”.

According to The Revisionist, she was forced to perform the “household mending”. As if we were a household of early-American settlers. The “mending basket” held socks, pants, shirts, and anything else that needed a stitch or two to fix it up. As far as The Redhead and I recall, the only person who mended anything around the house was Mom, or she’d just drive to Sears and buy us new socks, pants, etc. Dad did perform the “household mending” on one memorable occasion where he sewed the legs of his pants together, but that’s another story.

Does any mother forget a trip to the emergency room with an injured child? The Revisionist recalls a childhood trip to the emergency room with a piece of gum stuck to her tonsils that was threatening to choke her. Mom has inexplicably banished this traumatic emergency room trip from her mind, probably because it was so traumatic-- or probably because it never happened.

Finally, The Revisionist is absolutely certain that we are Jewish. This idea was conjured from the vague reminisces of my very fanciful Grandmother Esther, who as a baby was adopted by a family by the name of Putzig. So The Revisionist, being part Esther, latched onto the idea that we are of Jewish heritage, due to the possibility that one of Esther’s biological parents could possibly have been Jewish. The Revisionist has gone on to embrace our supposed Jewish heritage, buying my nephew Hannukah books, celebrating Hannukah, having a menorah, etc. Frankly, I think it’d be wonderful to have Jewish ancestors, because it would add some spice to our otherwise full-on WASP background; however, no proof of any Jews in our family exists.

Oy vey.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello, the Brunette here,

Let's clarify a few things. Once in high school, after repairing some jeans, I looked at the huge pile of sewing and found in the bottom of it a little half-sewn dress my mother had started for my in second grade. Never finished. Wouldn't have fit one of my feet. I pointed this out to whomever was in the room and said, "I do all the mending." As I did do all the sewing done in the house, this was technically accurate. This is the only time I've said it, yet they still mock me with it, more than thirty years later.

As for the gum on my tonsil, there was no emergency room visit and I never claimed there was one. (Who is fanciful here?) The summer of third grade or so, we were taken to a doctor at our grade school. He removed a glob from my tonsil with a long swab and told my mother to see that I stopped swallowing gum. Hence the term "tonsil glob," which will mean nothing to the general public but will certainly ring a bell with my family members.

As for having Jewish ancestors, Esther's sons, my dad and my Uncle Bill, told me we did. There's no written proof, no. There's no written proof for most people's ancestors in the world.

And my kitchen isn't kosher. I do enjoy cheese on my corned beef sandwich.