Tuesday, July 12, 2011

"In your condition"

The seats are all taken. I stand next to TCO, both of us clutching the hand rail. Through the front window we see old ladies leaving the Shuk with their shopping trolleys and cutting in front of the traffic. The bus crawls along Aggripas street, the driver trying not to run over any of the old ladies.

Now before I continue, I better clarify one thing. I'm skinny. That's my body build, and even 6 months of no exercise hasn't changed that. We're on our way back from a lunch date, so I'm wearing a new tunic top from my TJmaxx spree in the US, My shoes and hat also match, and I'm feeling pretty fashionable.

Then a middle aged woman makes eye contact with me. She's sitting in a single seat by the door. She asks me I want to take her chair. I shake my head.

"I'm fine." I say. I wonder why she's asking. She's older than me by at least two decades.

She stands up, and gestures to her seat
"Maybe she's getting off the bus as this stop." I think.

I move down the aisle to right beside her. As she stands up, I'm ready to take her place. Then a man blocks me. "I was here first." He says loudly. Heads turn in our direction.

"Then I'll stay here." The woman says. "I wanted her to sit, in her condition."

They both look at me.

In my what?

I have a millisecond to act. I don't feel like announcing to the entire crowded busload of passengers that I'm not pregnant. Sitting down seems the easy way out. I do it instinctively, without thinking.

So she stands. And I sit.

Hopefully she'll get off at the next stop, and then I won't feel so bad.
She doesn't.

She continues standing, by the door. Does she notice now that my stomach's flat?
I clutch my stomach, covering it up. Pretending the phantom baby is kicking now. My one mission is for the overly kind stranger not to find out that I'm a fraudulent pregnant woman.

"Do you have stomache ache?" TCO asks, from where he's standing next to me. He somehow missed the previous dialogue.

It takes 15 minutes and 3 bus stops of guilt before the good Samaritan finally gets of the bus.

I've learned my lesson. Wearing a tunic top carries consequences.

Meanwhile my friend from Kiryat Sefer shared horrific tales of daily commuting by bus, with morning sickness, in her first trimester when she wasn't obviously "showing" yet, and standing throughout the ride, no one offering their seat. She threw up every day, as soon as she reached solid ground again.

You can’t win.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hidden Tresses

"I wear a hat at night." She says it matter-of-factly.

"You wear a hat to bed?" I try not to sound shocked. She's not Chasidic, she's not even Chareidi. It seems rather extreme to me.

"Yes, I decided to keep my hair covered at all times."

That's the point when naughty questions pop into my head, like when exactly does she show her hair, but I bite them back, being the nice frum girl/woman I am.

"Oh." I say instead. "I don't cover my hair at home."

"Unless we have guests of course." I add. I've got my reputation to mantain.

"Of course" She says.

"I mean it's a good thing, covering your hair all the time, I guess… There's that story with the woman who merited torah scholar sons because the walls of her house never saw her hair…" It's a Bais Yaacov classic. I always hated it, but that part I leave out.

The conversation leaves me thinking.

I don't cover my hair at all, except when I have to, i.e. I'm outside, or there are (non related) men around. (Halachically I heard that in her own home a woman doesn't have to cover her hair even if there are strange men around, but I'm not going that far, it would make them, and me, uncomfortable. )

It's hard enough covering for a woman to cover her hair, so why make it even more difficult?

Or am I missing something here?

Maybe the reason is logistical - when there are older kids around, it confuses them to see their mother without a head covering?

And maybe there really is some mystical Tznius benefit?

It's a bit like the great "what to wear to the separate swimming pool" debate. It's about extra sensitivity. What can I say, I don't have it yet.

So what do you do, or plan to do, in your homes- bare it or share it?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Mrs. FnF

I'm suffering from a dreadful case of writer's block. Well maybe it's more like newly-married-and-haven't-blogged-for-six-months block. But in any case I really want to get back to blogging, since as I revert into a 9-6 working gal who cooks supper and does laundry on the side, I feel like I'm losing a part of myself, a very precious part, that I was rather proud of.

So my half year anniversary resolution is that I'm going to blog again. I won't write, that's too scary now, the blank white word documents stare back at me when I try to write. Instead I'll simply share the things I'm thinking, and hopefully, one day, this will be the blog it used to be.

Or in other words – Hi readers, I'm still alive, please come back. Anyone?

One thing I still haven't gotten used to is my new "title".


Is he speaking to me?

I'm not a "gveret", a lady. I'm a "bachura", a girl. (That's I I'm lucky. Usually I'm a "motek" or "chamuda" or "mami".)

But suddenly I'm a grownup.

The taxi drivers, the cashiers at the supermarket, the clerks at the bank, they are all treating me with new found respect.I've been working for five years, paying taxes and handling bills, releasing multi million dollar projects and investing in a pension plan. But then I was still a kid, according to the voices on the street.

I find it funny that one wedding ring and one hat/sheitel/scarf, is what makes me an adult, a lady, in the world's eyes.

And I wonder, when go secular women get to escape their "bachura" status? Because they wear no telling head covering. Or is their ring finger being surreptitiously checked every time they step foot in public?