Monday, March 01, 2004

New phrase I just invented: mezuzah surfing. It's when ober frumers knock on your door asking you to give tzedaka (charity) soley because they saw your mezuzah and figured you're Jewish.

Years ago, I looked at a house in Hendon (it was the cheapest house there was, because it was at FiveWays Corner, and you could only go one way when you came out of the house, because of the traffic, and it invariably wasn't the way you wanted to go), and they had lots of old, overpainted mezuzahs. I asked the woman about them, and she told me: "I think they're something Jewish? They were here when we moved in, and they feel like they're part of the history of the house, so we felt we couldn't really remove them."

Cute, eh?

Reminds me. When I lived in Singapore, I was in a rented apartment, and tacked my mezuzah up on the doorframe. The thing about Singapore is that every comes from some religious tradition or another: Buddhist, animist, moslem. The phrase you hear people say all the time is "it's my custom" - it's a catch all for whatever their thang is. Went away for the weekend, came back, mezuzah gone. Varnished. Covered in clear coating of polyeurothane (Alexei Sayle reference for the 0.001% of the world who get it). I called the doorman, and we couldn't actually communicated, and got into advanced charades, where I'm pointing at my door and he's thinking I'm a nutter. I ask him to call the maintenance guy to see if he knows where it is.

The maintenance guy calls me on the phone, and isn't that interested. It's Sunday night, long weekend, he's tired. Can't it wait till Monday? Suddenly, the phrase comes to me: "it's my custom," I tell him, "I can't sleep without it on my door." Oh, I should have said. He rushes straight round, and finds it, and refixes it, because, after all, it's my custom.

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