Good Old Yeshiva Days

26 Feb

(Some ‘historical fiction’ writing. I might make this into a series if you guys like it.)

Shaye walked in first, of course. He had more balls than the rest of us combined. We’d done it 3 times tonight already, but I still got scared each time. “Uh, Shaye, maybe we should go find another shul, it looks private here. There’s maybe 20 people.”

“20 people’s not private. If you want to stay out here and wait, fine. But I’m not walking all over again to find another shalom zachor.”

I hesitated. He walked in.

Moishe turned to me. “Shloime, he’s right. It’s getting late, this is probably our last one.”

“Yeah.” We filed into the brick shteeble and pretended to belong.

It wasn’t really necessary. Everyone was joking or eating or schmoozing. Nobody cared that we just walked in, except a red-faced, laughing, big guy  closest to the door who greeted us with, “Mazel Tov! Mazel Tov!” and turned back to his drinking buddy.

A quick glance to the head table found Shaye shaking the Baal Habos’s hand and making loud, smiling conversation. Shaye was a pro at this. He’d play the politician, answer a few questions about which yeshiva we were from, who his father was, etc, make a joke, and back out. The whole thing took 2 minutes, after which we were as welcome as any adult friend would have been. I wanted to make sure the father knew I was one of the merry yeshiva men, so I moved in to get in on the closer. Shaye was making his shalom zachor pun when I got there, a stupid one he said so confidently everyone laughed anyhow, and shook the guy’s hand.

“Sit down. There’s plenty of chairs. There’s still cholent. And beer! You want a beer before you start singing, right?”

“Sure”, I said, putting on my suave/charmer face. A waste. He’d already turned away to schmooze with his friends. So much for being cool. Well, I’d settle for being drunk. I went back to the table where Moishe and Moti were already pouring a bottle of Chivas into plastic cups of coke. Shaye was sipping on a shot of it straight while leaning his chair back to shmooze with the guy two seats away from him. I thought of trying to be that cool, but didn’t want to waste a my only chance of sustaining my buzz for something I probably couldn’t pull off. The guy would probably get bored and annoyed with my act, look at my booze, and kick us out. I mixed it with the coke like the other guys.

We drank, ate some chickpeas and cholent to look normal, drank more, performed the right songs at the right times, drank some more, and all the while I went over my problem. It wasn’t the opening act of my show. I could usually start the friendly macher bit well (except tonight, but the guy just probably had enough of strange high school guys by the time I got there). My problem was continuing it. I couldn’t keep it up. It just…got awkward. Just wrong. I didn’t know how to adjust to Normal Person without losing people’s interest. So I just kept going with Awesome Guy until I was over the edge and started running out of awesomeness. Somehow, I had to modulate it.

Right now, though, I had to pee and get the heck out of there before the alcohol kicked in and I did something stupid and outed us. I turned to Shaye.

“Let’s go. I need to get out of here.”

“Ok. I need to pish.”

“Me too.”

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