Then one day, I went into LC2 on my first day of a new Vegas trip, and of course, Betsy was no longer there. I hadn’t seen her my last visit because she had already started her maternity leave, just a few weeks from her due date. But I had a quick second to ask the floor person in the poker room if she’d knew how Betsy was doing. Coincidentally enough, she informed me that Betsy had had her baby that very morning! The next time or two I was in there, I asked how Betsy and baby were doing and got back glowing reports. About a month later, I was told that Betsy already had her figure back.
But then I asked when Betsy planned to return to work. And the same floor person told me that she didn’t think she was coming back to work. Oh no! No more Betsy? How sad. I didn’t get a chance to follow up on this because she was too busy. I realized if I wanted to get more info on Betsy’s possible return to work—or not—I needed to ask someone else.
And that brings us back to Anna, the front desk/cashier at LC2 that I mentioned at the beginning of the story. The one from a sorta-Middle/Eastern European/Asian country and an appropriate accent for said country. Since she worked the same shift as Betsy, it occurred to me that she might be friends with Betsy and might have the scoop on what her situation was.
I had already seen Anna this particular late afternoon to get on the list for the 2/4 game. But when I noticed she wasn’t busy, I went over to chat.
“Anna, have you heard from Betsy lately?”
“Yes, I just talked to her the other day.”
“How’s she doing?”
“Great, she’s doing great. She’s good, the baby’s good, she’s very happy.”
“So, is she coming back? I heard she might not be coming back.”
“No, no, she’s not coming back to work.”
“Really? She’s just gonna be a full time mommy?”
OK, so I guess I had one last question to ask. I knew that Betsy wasn’t married, but I had no idea what kind of relationship—if any—she had with the father of the baby. For all I knew, she might have gone to a sperm bank! So it was kind of bold of me to ask this, but I went ahead with it.
“So, do you know if she’s going to marry the father?
I would have gotten a helluva answer if she indeed had gone to a sperm bank! Well, she didn’t, but I got a helluva answer anyway.
“She’s planning to. But not for a while. It’ll be after she converts.”
Converts? Converts? In the next nano-second a million things went through my mind. Now, of course, she could be converting to Catholicism. She could be converting to Southern Baptist. She could be converting to Buddhism. But of course, from my frame of reference, I was thinking, what if she was converting to Judaism?
So I said one word, with a question mark at the end. “Converts?”
Another nano-second for things to run through my mind. As soon as I considered the possibility that Betsy was converting to Judaism, I immediately thought of LM’s reaction to Betsy’s “You look Jewish” comment. I thought about how LM accused Betsy of being a skinhead. And so I thought, it would be the greatest thing I ever heard if Anna would tell me that the father of Betsy’s baby was Jewish and she was converting to his faith in order to marry him. That would be the greatest story ever
to throw in LM’s face to tell Woody and LM.
So in that nano-second, one phrase kept running through my mind, over and over and over again. “Please say ‘converting to Judaism,’ please say ‘converting to Judaism,’ please say ‘converting to Judaism.’”
So Anna said, “Yes, converting. She’s…..she’s becoming a Jew.”
Yes! Yes! YES!!!!! I could have kissed her. This now became the greatest story ever for my friends, Woody & LM. Especially LM. I couldn’t wait to tell her that Betsy, the beautiful blonde waitress LM had accused of being anti-Semitic, had not only gotten impregnated by a Jewish man, had not only decided to marry a Jewish man—but was even willing to convert to Judaism to marry him. So much for her being a skinhead.
I asked Anna a rather redundant question, while trying to hide my glee which would surely be inexplicable to Anna. “Oh, so the father is Jewish?”
She confirmed this. I believe I asked Anna if she had met him. I believe she said she had once, briefly. Seemed like a nice guy. Then I asked if he was a poker player and was that how they’d met? No, no, not at all.
OK, I had gotten the story I was looking for. My disappointment at Betsy not returning was more than made up for having this incredible news to relay to my friends. I returned to my seat to wait for my name to be called for a game. I whipped out my cell phone and began texting this shocking news to LM. And then I stopped myself.
It turns out that LM & Woody were visiting nearby Mesquite (about 1 hour past Las Vegas on the I-15, right before you get to Utah). And we had plans to have dinner together there a few nights later. So, I thought, this can wait. Better than a text, I can tell them in person and see their reaction! So I just texted LM that I had some unbelievable news about Betsy and let it go at that.
Then I started chuckling about the whole thing. I started replaying my conversation with Anna over and over in my mind and trying to figure out the best way to convey the story to my friends. And as I played the conversation over in my mind, I started fixating on two things.
First of all, Betsy was marrying a Jewish guy.
Betsy was marrying a Jewish guy.
The beautiful, buxom, blonde bombshell waitress was marrying a Jew!
Or, to put it another way, some lucky Jew was had landed the ultimate blonde shiksa goddess!
“Blonde shiksa goddess?”
I suspect most non-Jewish folks have heard the word “shiksa” by now. It’s pretty commonly used in movies and TV shows, especially since so many screenwriters and show biz folks are Jewish. A “shiksa” a woman who isn’t Jewish. It’s a Yiddish word that has permeated American culture, like chutzpah, schtick, kibbitz, klutz, nosh, yenta, schlep, glitch, etc.
It’s not meant in a negative way, with one possible exception. If two yentas are talking and they’ve just heard the gossip that the extremely eligible bachelor son--who is a doctor or at least a lawyer--of their friend is marrying a beautiful girl who is not Jewish......Well, then you are likely to hear something along the lines of this exclamation: “Poor, poor Sadie. Can you believe it? Her son is marrying a shiksa!” And the other one would respond, “I know, I know, she must be beside herself. I hope she doesn’t stick her head in the oven.”
You see, in my parents’ generation, the worst thing a Jew could do, the very worst thing, was to marry out of the faith.
And perhaps, just perhaps, because of the pressure on younger Jews (and it was more focused on men than woman, because of it being a male-dominated culture) to marry another Jew, there was born the desire of virtually every Jewish man to score with--and possibly marry--the blonde shiksa goddess. OK, ok, she doesn’t have to be blonde; it just helps. You see, one theory for why this desire exists is that Jewish men have an especially keen compulsion to find a woman who is as different as possible from their mothers (don’t get me started on sons and their Jewish mothers). Since no Jewish woman is naturally blonde, it adds to the appeal. Yes I know that plenty of Jewish women dye their hair blonde (Sarah Michelle Gellar and Lisa Kudrow to name two famous blonde Jews) and of course, plenty of non-Jewish women dye their hair blonde as well). But the blonde hair sort of clinches it….not Jewish. For more on the whole idea of the “shiksa goddess”, see here for a pretty good short explanation.
So, as a Jewish guy myself, I could only sit and marvel—with severe envy—at some guy I had never met. Some Jewish guy out there had struck gold. Big time. He had not just had a quick, meaningless (but no doubt memorable) quick hook up with a blonde shiksa goddess. He had not even just gotten said blonde shiksa goddess to bear his child and agree to marry him.
No, he had gotten the ultimate blonde shiksa goddess to agree to convert to his religion in order to marry him (and therefore, presumably, make his parents happy—or at least less miserable than they might otherwise be).
I could only shake my head in awe of this achievement.
Anyway, there was one other thing I thought of as I was pondering this news, as I was forming the story in my mind to properly retell this tale to my friends. Playing over the conversation I had just had with Anna in my mind, I recalled the exact way Anna had reported the news.
When I questioned Anna’s statement that Betsy had to “convert” first before she could (or would) marry the father of her baby, she said, I was sure, “she’s becoming a jew.”
Becoming a Jew.
Hmm, that was a very odd way to phrase it. The more “normal” way to phrase this would be, “Yes, she’s converting to Judaism.” Or, perhaps, “she’s converting to the Jewish faith.” Or “the Jewish religion.”
But “becoming a Jew”? It sounded odd. It gave me a chuckle. I had to admit I thought, again thinking back to my parents’ generation, that some might find it a bit insulting—or at least off putting. I can’t really explain it. I think that if a Jew hears a non-Jew refer to him as a “Jew”, he tends to hear that, whether it was meant that way or not, as somewhat nasty. He would hear the word “Jew” spoken as insult. Better to hear himself referred to (by a non-Jew), as “Jewish”, as a "Jewish person," not “a Jew.” BTW, it’s perfectly ok for oneJew to refer to another Jew as a Jew—double standard of course, but I don’t make up the rules.
Also….the idea of somebody, somehow, “becoming a Jew” was rather, well, strange.
So if she even said, “she’s becoming Jewish,” well that would have been an awkward phrase, but it wouldn’t have struck me as that, well, potentially offensive.
But I was sure that Anna didn’t mean to be insulting, no not all. I simply chalked it up to the minor language barrier, since English is not her native language. She probably just didn’t know—or couldn’t access at the time—the word “Judaism.”
I thought it was a minor part of the story, and after a day or two, I stopped thinking about it, and even wondered if I should mention it to Woody and LM when I related this story.
A few nights later I found myself in Mesquite for a nice dinner with my friends. After we ordered, I finally began to reveal this earth-shattering development. Of course, their reaction didn’t disappoint. They were in shock, and were of course quite amused, and well, ultimately, they found it hard to believe. But of course they both thoroughly enjoyed hearing of this unanticipated turn of events.
I let it sink in for a bit, then I reminded LM of her (now ridiculous) accusation that Betsy was an anti-Semite. I of course rubbed her face in the fact that she had called her a “skinhead” and accused me of giving Betsy a pass just because of her impressive chest.
Yeah, I took great delight in that. And LM could do nothing but sit there and take it. It was quite fun.
Then, I pointed out that this unknown Jewish guy had landed the ultimate blonde shiksa goddess, They were both amused at that. But neither of them being a Jewish man, they couldn’t quite appreciate it as much as I did.
Finally, almost as an afterthought, I remembered Anna’s awkward phraseology when telling me the news. I even premised this part by saying, “I don’t think you guys will find this as amusing as I did, but, I did find it odd the way Anna phrased it.” And then quoted word for word Anna telling me that Betsy was “becoming a Jew.”
To my surprise, the two of them virtually fell out of their chairs laughing at this. I was astonished that, as much as they had enjoyed the story, they actually found Anna’s “becoming a Jew” quote the very best part of the story. I was so glad I didn’t forget to tell them.
They again expressed surprise that I could hear Anna’s phraseology without laughing or reacting in anyway. I told him all that was going through my mind at that point was praying for her to confirm that Betsy conversation was to Judaism and when I got the astonishing news, I didn’t really hear the way she said it until I replayed the conversation in my mind quite a bit later.
To this day, almost every time we get together, one of them will quote Anna saying “becoming a Jew” and crack the other one up. The other one will then say, “Yeah….not ‘converting to Judaism’ or ‘converting to the Jewish faith’, but ‘becoming a Jew.’” And the two of them will both start laughing as if they were hearing the story for the first time.
Of course, LM tried to accuse Anna of being a bigot. But I would have none of it. She had already been proven sensationally wrong about Betsy, she had no credibility in this anymore. Besides, I kind of think she was kidding.
So if you ever meet Woody and LM, just remember to say to them, “she’s becoming a Jew” and you’re sure to get a good laugh out of them.
Anyway, that’s the story. I have no new updates on Nigel, Betsy, Betsy’s baby, Anna, or on the very happy Jewish man somewhere in (I assume) Las Vegas who landed the ultimate blonde shiksa goddess. But I bet, wherever he is, he’s smiling.