Saturday, September 22, 2007


Thus it was that on the afternoon of Arev(sp?) Yom Kippur,the eve of Yom Kippur, so perhaps it was Arev Arev Yom Kippur, that Sorah Gwen, a renegade Jew, that is, she was not so much rebellious as lazy in her prayers, at least to the Israelite G_d, which is what her cousin Susie used to refer to H_m as, wandering instead into the quieter realms of Quakers and Buddhists, the last of whom were mostly fallen-away Jews, so she could meditate in Silence, which she liked better but was still lazy about, so it was that on the sunlit terrace of the Cipriani in Venice she sat down with friends to have her last self-indulgent meal before beginning her Yom Kippur fast. And as it was her day to try and be very much a lady, she wore a flowing skirt. And as she sat down a wasp did enter into the underfolds of that skirt just as she met what would have been chair but instead met stinger, and stung her thrice on the upper inner right thigh, quite near what Anais Nin would call her sex, but she was not a Jewish writer.
So far had she come that she did not scream or even react except to say in quiet voice to her friend Elisa, "I sat on a bee," which it was not, as it turned out, but a wasp, as they discovered when they retreated to the ladies room and it did fly out from under her skirt and land on the wall, as witnessed by another woman who did change out of her bathing suit. Then came the pool man with ammonia which Elisa did apply and all went back to dine, as though naught had occured of major moment but it stung like hell.
Now all night long, having begun her Yom Kippur fast at sundown like the good Jew she tried to be on occasion, Sorah Gwen did writhe and smart and took of many anti-histamines which she hoped G_d would not consider breaking her fast, and prayed to G-d all through the night to relieve her from her discomfort, but so pained and swollen was she on that tender inner thigh by morning that she didn't give a damn and ate breakfast.
Then three rabbis met on the deck of the Giudecca to discuss the question Sorah Gwen had in her mind, not to mention the tender part of her inner thigh.
Rabbi Gamaliel said: "Why would this woman who thought herself a good person be stung thrice by a Wasp?"
Rabbi Eleazer said: "Was she not eating lunch with Goyem?"
Said Rabbi Herschel, "They were not Wasps, but Wascs, being mainly Catholics and as they were two of them Italians they were certainly not Anglo-Saxons when it is well known that WASP stands for White Anglo-Saxon Protestants, not White Italian Catholics."
"But if a bee stings in the bush, and nobody feels it, is there any harm?" quoth Rabbi Gamaleil.
"You miss the point," said Rabbi Eleazer.
"So did the wasp," said Rabbi Herschel, imagining himself to be a wit.
"But why the tender part of the inner thigh when no one has been there in decades?"
"Perhaps to remind her there is no pleasure that cannot be remembered in pain, especially since it has been so long since it brought any pleasure."
"But why this woman?" said Rabbi Gamaliel. "Had she not been brought out of the railroad station at Santa Lucia with her dog only to be greeted by stinging nettles with gummy glue on them that had to be removed pulling hair by hair all through the night from the little dog, whose Jewish name was Miriam, although she was called Mimi, and never made but a slight whimper of protest because she understood she was being helped? And if the little dog could survive such an ordeal, why does the woman complain at being stung thrice by a wasp?"
"She is not complaining," said Rabbi Herschel. "She is only wondering why it happened? And why was she stung not once but thrice?"
"Three," said the Rabbi,"if you study the Kabbalah not necessarily in the group with Madonna, is the mystical number that means creative imagery."
"There is not much that is creative in a wasp sting," said Rabbi Herschel.
""There is the next day. How it does swell and change colors more mysteriously than the sunset. And that is the hand of the Creator."
"But do you dare to say that Yahweh is underhanded?"
"I say only that there are mysteries too mysterious to question, like why are there mosquitoes when they serve no purpose."
"Perhaps they do to other mosquitoes," said Rabbi Herschel.
"But what does this have to do with Yom Kippur?" Rabbi Eleazer asked.
"Everything," said Rabbi Gamaliel. "For four days Sorah Gwen had the best time of her life at the Cipriani in Venice, where there is a drink called by George Clooney when he was at the Venice Film Festival last year the Buona Notte, vodka and bitters which he invented and she thought tasted terrible, and as a result had for her final breakfast on that perfect day the Gwendollini, which name she made up to get even both with George Clooney and Hemingway who had invented the Bellini, but the Gwendollini she had the ego to think was better, being cranberry juice and prosecco, a fine way to start that last glorious day.
"There is no pleasure without pain. To be a Jew in this world having so much pleasure would be a sin were you not stung three times on the tender inner thigh by a wasp, as not to feel pain as a Jew would be a pain."
All were impressed by his wisdom, except for Sorah Gwen with her big welt on her tender inner thigh, and still wondered 'Why me, G_d?"
And then she remembered the even wiser words of her cousin Sorah Lori, who had explained to her once the basis of the Jewish religion, why, at the end of every prayer and show of faith and abstinence, each celebration of great and terrible days in their history, Jews sat down for a meal. Sorah Lori summed up in very few words the entire history. And it went thusly:
"They hate us. They want to kill us. Let's eat."
Happy New Year. East something. You'll feel better.