Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Yiddish Lesson

Every night before bed, we convene at the "drug counter", you know, the counter below the kitchen cabinet that stores all our vitamins and nighttime pills. Wait, hold the phone. I have nighttime pills? When did I become a senior citizen? Ahem. So last night Special K and I convene. I take mine in one fell swoop with a large gulp of water, he "chicken licks" his (takes one at a time, places it on the furthest point of his tongue, sips water and throws his head back violently), a term coined by my father-in-law.

Since I am much faster in taking my... pills (cringe) and because my husband is always a gentleman and lets me have the first swig of water, I usually take the journey towards the bedroom alone. But last night, for some odd reason, we finished at the same time and even more unexpectedly we locked arms and walked to the bedroom side by side, arm in arm.

But being the absurd dork that I am, I broke out in song. I did a little squat then kicked my heel out and sang "Schlemiel! Schlemazle! Hasenfeffer incorporated!" Please, please, do not admit to me that you do not know what I'm talking about. Watch this and lie to me, I don't need more reminders of my ripe ol age today. Thanks!

Well as soon as I sang I wondered, "What the heck does Schlemiel and Schlemazle mean?" and I figured that you might wonder too so here is what I discovered thanks to Yahoo Answers:

In Yiddish, as in English, there are often several words that mean almost the same thing. There are maybe a dozen words for someone with bad luck. Schlemiel and schlemazle are two of them.

The difference between the words is in how their bad luck works. A schlemiel is a clumsy person, accident prone, who brings on his own bad luck. A schlemazle is just an unlucky person who bad things happen to. A nebish is someone nobody cares about. The classic explanation is that a waiter who is carrying a tray full of bowls of soup and trips and spills them all is a schlemiel. A schlemazle is the poor customer he spills the soup on. And the nebish is the guy whose job it is to clean up the mess.

1 comment:

RollerScrapper said...

I totally knew what you meant despite the fact that my dad had banned watching laverne and shirley because he thought it was too risque being about two women living together in the city. Good thing he never heard of bosom buddies!