Oy Vey Day genre: Tongue-In-Cheek
"Oy Vey Day" is a recurring posting here at Thought Theater. It's strictly lighthearted and meant to bring a smile or a chuckle. Strange as it may seem, even though I grew up in an Italian American Catholic home, I've always felt some kinship with Jewish culture and familial dynamics. Perhaps it's the notion of guilt that both seem to embrace or perhaps it's the numerous unique expressions and insightful conversational banter that is found in both Italian and Jewish cultures. Regardless, I've always had a curiosity for Jewish or Yiddish terminology.
I have a few books that list many of these expressions and offer insight into their origin and meaning. One book that I find particularly enjoyable is Every Goy's Guide To Common Jewish Expressions by Arthur Naiman. A goy is a non-Jew and he explains their difference this way:
"The distinction between Jewish and goyish can be quite subtle: Fidel Castro? Jewish, of course. Henry Kissinger - goyish. Marlon Brando - Jewish. Ringo is Jewish. Paul is goyish. George was goyish. John, of course, was Jewish."
Today's entry is from his book:
Standard answer to any question of the form: "How's your (business, health, whatever)?"
"Ben and Hyman meet in the street. They exchange a few pleasantries and then Ben says, "Every time we talk it's this superficial chitchat. You never ask me anything about myself, how I'm feeling, how my business is doing, what's happening with my family. Don't you care even enough to ask?
Hyman is flabbergasted. What an outpouring of emotion! Consumed with guilt, he says, "Of course I care about you, Ben. How can you think I don't? Please, tell me, how's your business? How's your lovely wife Shirley, your son Arnold, your daughter Elyse? How's your health? How've you been feeling?
Ben pauses for a moment, looks at Hyman...and says, "Don't ask!"