Monday, November 23, 2009

Friday Night Adventure

Our nanny's mother died a week ago so she was out all week. It was a very tiring week. Between work and shuttling the kids around, I rang up insane mileage around the city and the baby sitter costs were insane. My wife was in week two of the new gig so she wasn't going to start bolting to lend a hand. In the few instances where I had kids in two places at the the same time, I called in reinforcements. My mother was, surprisingly, a big help and I outsourced a few sitters whenever necessary. The nights were no less tiring. We had plans almost every night last week and this week is shaping up to be just as busy with a screening of the new Clooney movie tonight and cigar event with the boys tomorrow before watching the parade balloons get inflated Wednesday night and the big turkey day Thursday night.

So, what does any of this have to do with my Friday night adventure? Nothing. It's early and I'm tired and I rambled a bit so fuck off.

Friday night, my wife and I went the wake. Now, as a jew, church visits have been, for the most part, as a tourist in some old european city. I've been to one church wedding and one church funeral where the priest railed on for a solid 15 minutes about how jesus was crucified by the jews. This was years ago but, somewhere, Mel Gibson was smiling.

To get to the church, we had to hop on a subway and ride it to the bitter end. To Crown Heights. For those of you not from here, Crown Heights was the scene of a rather famous riot as a result of a young boy, named Gavin Cato, being killed by some orthodox jew motorcade. The ensuing riots culminated in the murder of an orthodox jew named Yankel Rosenbaum. There was a lot more to it, including some rather hateful remarks by Al Sharpton. Information can be found here:


Anyway, we hopped on the subway and, at the end of the line, hopped off. It was a strange scene for us. Couple of white jews, the only ones on the train, or the platform. Lots of eyes on us. We exited the station and found the church right on the corner. As we walked up the steps, our nanny was standing out front, apparently, looking for us. I guess she was worried we'd get lost, or, perhaps, worse.

The church was gorgeous inside. It was like we'd walked into the local church in some italian village. People were staring at us. We were the only white people in the church. 100 or so mourners and we stood out. The mourners kept looking back at us and the woman directly in front of us was shooting daggers at us, like we had no business being in the church.

Many of the women were dressed for a formal party with short skirts, low cut tops and lots of bling.

If that wasn't odd enough, there was one woman walking around the front video taping the service. She kept moving over to the corpse, as if she was hoping to capture the dead woman's reaction. It was pretty fucking strange.

Several woman spoke. A few of the deceased's daughters and granddaughters sang. It was very sad, very touching. Our nanny tried to speak and broke down at the end. She recovered towards the end of the service and, when they announced that there would be a final viewing, we hopped up on the line of mourners, so we could express our sympathies to the nanny and her family.

As the line slowly moved towards the casket I pointed out the giant baptism tub to my wife. It was like a hot tub in the middle of the church. Then, as we got closer to the casket, we saw something that made the rest of the evening's oddities seem almost normal.

They were taking pictures around the casket. Posing over the dead body. It was as if they all came to see a celebrity. Folks were holding up cell phones to snap their pictures, others had brought their digital cameras. The closer we got, the more we heard things like "move in closer so I can see you with Teddy (the deceased)."

Who the fuck takes pictures with a dead person? Are you framing those pictures and hanging them up somewhere? In the middle of a dinner party do you offer up the chance to watch the wake video and view the photo album? I understand all cultures are different but, seriously, posing with a dead woman in a casket? Sick if you ask me.

It was getting late when we finally left the church and as we walked to the subway entrance, we noticed it was a somewhat less friendly crowd than when we first arrived. We also noticed the 8 cops hanging around the upper level of the station. We also noticed when, as we walked past them, one of them pointed to us and two of the cops started following us. They tailed us down to the platform and watched the car until it left the station.

I guess they, like the nanny, wanted to make sure we didn't get lost.

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