Thursday, June 30, 2005

The man who mistook his wife...

A very short posting about one of the funniest things I've seen in a while.

Today Bryan and I were at the Rabbanut finishing up, and getting our ketuba (marriage license/contract).

There was a man in front of us on line trying to fill out his marriage license request. Bryan and I heard the clerk ask him, "what's your fiancee's name?" and then we saw the man shrug his shoulders. The clerk grew more and more impatient, asking the man "Your wife to be...what is her name? her name!!! Surely you know her name!" And the man kept saying, "I forgot it." The man actually could not remember his fiancee's name and had to be sent home until he could think of his future wife's name.

Bryan was laughing so hard they almost through us out of there. Even the clerk was busting up.

Needless to say, I am not holding out much hope for the success of this marriage.

Odds and Ends

I was going to share with you the denouement of some stories I've shared here on the blog recently (what happened to the prices in the cafeteria?...did I find replacement lingerie?).

I was going to share with you some new restaurant trends I've been noticing around town, but that would be stealing Gilly's job.

Then I was going to share with you my reaction to seeing anti-disengagement protestors yesterday, even though I have never really discussed politics here. But I have something else to share instead.

Its the story of why I was on a bus going through some antidisengagement protestors.

Its about my wedding dress.

I bought my dream dress in America in early March when I was there on a little Nefesh B'Nefesh sponsored trip, with my buddy Treppenwitz. I would link to the dress, since its online, but then it might spoil it.

Small problem, the dress of my dreams was strapless. Now, I know from previous experience that with a good seamstress, it is possible to add sleeves to a strapless dress in a way that it will look like the dress came with sleeves. I know because I've done it with bridesmaid dresses a few times, though obviously never with my own wedding dress.

Anyway, I enlisted the services of a certain seamstress (lets call her Jessica). When I first met with her, and her boss, I was very hesitant to give them my dress. They laughed at me and called me a bridezilla for not accepting their suggestion that they make me a JACKET to go over my dress to cover up the fact that it was strapless. I know lots of people choose this option, but I really didn't like the look, and I still don't. I told them what I wanted and that I was open to everything except a jacket.

I didn't get a very good vibe from them, and Bryan kept urging me to take my dress away and go to another seamstress, but my mom was worried that since they had already started I'd have to pay double and how could we hurt the seamstress' feelings, etc.

So I left it there. The first incarnation of the dress with sleeves was bad. Not unwearable, but definitely not what I had in mind. The sleeves sort of puffed up at the shoulder, giving me the appearance of a little girl playing dress-up. Not exactly what I wanted. At this point Bryan again suggested going elsewhere, but my mom sort of pushed me to stick with Jessica. So I summoned up my courage and told her that I was very unhappy with what she had done, and could she re-do it.

She did re-do it, and at first it was looking better than what she did the first time. But when I went to pick it up on Monday with my mom, well, the end result was an unwearable dress.

I'm not sure how this happened, but I'm glad it did: I was unhappy with the way it looked, but my blood sugar was really low, and either I was mentally choosing to block this, or I honestly was so out of it I wasn't paying attention, but the dress was disgusting. She had managed to take my dream dress and make it unwearable. Fortunately, I simply noticed that I didn't like it.

My mom, on the other hand, did notice how bad it was. My mom, bless her soul, is the plainest woman I know. Her clothes are often downright ugly. She does not care what she looks like. In all my life she has worn makeup once (and then only lipstick and blush because we forced it on her) - at my brother's wedding. She has never plucked her eyebrows. She has never dieted (and she is in need of it). When she buys shoes she looks first at the price tag, then if they are comfortable. She never looks at the color or style. My mother is also one of the cheapest women I know.

So my dress must have been pretty bad because the next morning she said, "Honey, that dress was so bad I think we need to bring it to another seamstress. And if someone else cannot fix it in time (since my wedding is in 18 days) then I will go and buy you a new one for whatever it costs. But I cannot let you walk down the aisle like that."

Apparently she was up all night worrying about this dress. She couldn't believe I wasn't making a big deal about it - that I wasn't crying and going nuts. Believe me, if I had realized how bad it was, I would have. I mean, sure I noticed that the sleeves were 2 different lengths. And that one of them was tighter than the other. I also noticed that the neckline was uneven, and stood away from my body. I noticed that the top of the dress was enormous on me. And that, despite 11 fittings, the woman had left about 4 extra inches at the hem, making it impossible for me to walk or dance without tripping. I just didn't realize how bad it was.

So Tuesday afternoon I started calling around to other people, trying to get recommendations for a really excellent seamstress, a miracle worker, if you will. I called Andrea, the woman doing my hair and makeup. She recommended 2 people, one of whom was too busy to take me on at such short notice, the other who told me she'd stopped doing alterations. Now again, because I didn't realize how bad it was, the fact that I had been spending all day looking for a seamstress without much luck wasn't stressing me out, predominantly because I also had an exam the next morning.

I posted an ad on Janglo (a yahoo group for Anglos living in jerusalem). For obvious reasons (the first seamstress may read Janglo) I didn't use my name or phone number. I created a new account called needseamstress at yahoo . The best was every time I logged in to see responses Yahoo would greet me with "Welcome, Need!" Which at that point I did feel sort of needy.

Anyway, after about 10 hours I finally came across a seamstress who sounded reasonable and professional. She was the first one I spoke to who seemed confident in her abilities and didn't waffle over whether or not she could do the job, rather told me to come and bring everything I had - extra material, extra beading, etc.

The next step was to get my dress back from Jessica, who was still doing some finishing touches, and obviously noticed my unhappiness the day before when I thought my dress was bad (not to mention my mom's reaction). Well, y'all can award me an Oscar, because I told her that I was sorry I was grumpy the day before, that I LOVED the dress, and wanted to take it home right now so I could gaze at it adoringly until the days before my wedding. She bought it all and gave me back my dress. I mean, she's obviously a terrible seamstress, but she thinks she did a good job and I can see she worked hard at it. So we wanted to still pay her and the only way to do that was to lie. My mom thought I should level with her and tell her I was taking it elsewhere, but that I still wanted to pay her. Whatever

I took the dress yesterday to the new seamstress, Dorit. When I opened the dress bag she could immediately see the poor quality and work. She said Jessica had used stitches that are only supposed to be on the underside of a hem, on the top of my wedding dress for all to see. Even I started noticing the uneven stitching, the loose threads, etc. Then I put the dress on.

Dorit could barely stifle her laughter, and even I burst out laughing when I finally saw through non rose-colored lenses what my mother was looking at on Monday. The dress was, in fact, unwearable. It looked as if I had perhaps borrowed someone's shirt and tucked it into the top of my dress. The whole top was uneven. I think (and this is no exaggeration) that I could have done a better job.

Anyway, to make a long story short, Dorit is fixing up the dress and told me it would be done within a week. She apologized for this profusely, but it will cost us about 1600 NIS for the alterations. She said that if I had come to her first, she could have made me a whole dress from scratch for less than that. But since this is under extreme time pressure, and she has to fix all the things Jessica ruined plus re-do the work, its a whole lot of work.

My mom, uncharacteristically, said she didn't care about the price, and that only a truly cruel mother would have let me get married looking like that. We both got a very good vibe from Dorit, and saw lot of other wedding dresses she had done. all of which looked wonderful.

So, luckily I didn't notice how bad things were until I was already standing in front of someone capable of fixing the problem. And that my mother, bless her soul, for once looked at the style instead of the price tag. Thanks, Mom.

Friday, June 24, 2005

The Gift of Life

In 3.5 weeks (24 days, according to, I am getting married and I have a somewhat strange idea for wedding gifts to request from our wedding guests.

Bryan and I will be hosting a bone marrow drive at our wedding. We are asking all of our guests, who are between the ages of 18-55, in decent health and not already entered into the registry of potential bone marrow donors, to consider allowing the 2 best phlebotomists (people who take blood from your arm) at Hadassah Ein Karem to draw 5 ml (a tablespoon) of blood from their arms at some point during the smorgasbord or during pictures.

This cause is really important to us. Firstly, my little sister donated her marrow to a woman she matched for several years ago and saved the woman's life. Hopefully my sister's recipient, a woman alive today only because my sister was selfless enough to enter herself in the registry and willing to donate her bone marrow, will be at our wedding as well.

Secondly, I mentioned in passing that when I started dating Bryan, I also went out with another gentleman as well. For reasons I won't go into now, after our second date, I accepted a date with another man, whom I went out with and liked. I also liked Bryan, however, and was in a bit of a quandary as to which one to move forward with. I went out with Bryan a third time. A few minutes before our 3rd date, Bryan received a call from the folks at Gift of Life, telling him he was a likely bone marrow match for a 21 year old leukemia patient, and asking whether he'd be willing to come down to Hadassah Hospital for further testing.

On our previous date, Bryan had mentioned how bad he was with blood and needles and how he couldn't donate blood because he passed out whenever he even got near the room where they were accepting blood. So I was quite impressed when he told me that without hesitation he had booked an appointment to come in for more blood testing. I decided I absolutely HAD to continue with Bryan, since he seemed like a pretty amazing and selfless guy. And here we are getting married...Obviously this was in God's plan and all, but who knows what would have happened if Bryan hadn't gotten the call at that critical juncture, and I had decided to continue with guy #2? I feel I owe the bone marrow registry people a bit of hakarat hatov - an acknowledgement of the good they've done for me.

In fact, the day Bryan had planned to propose to me, we got a call asking for him to come in again for further testing. I had no idea that Bry was proposing that evening, and that coming in to give the blood made him run late for all of the things he had to arrange to make the proposal go smoothly. But he did it. And I got to see him faint not once, but twice, after giving a minute amount of blood for testing.

So, given these two personal reasons, we've decided to hold a bone marrow drive at our wedding. Although in America they now do bone marrow drives with a simple cheek swab, in Israel they still do blood samples. We have coordinated it all with the Bone Marrow Registry at Hadassah hospital and have their 2 best blood-takers coming to our wedding, along with the head of the department (who happens to be married to one of my professors - a fact I found out too late to help me after I failed Geriatrics).

So, my question to you is, if something like this was happening at a wedding you've been invited to (and some of my readers are on the guets list), would you be willing to give 5 ml of blood, even at a wedding?

In order to further motivate our guests, I'm going to be the first one to go. I thought I was listed in the registry, since I entered it years ago, but for some reason they couldn't find me so its time for me to go back in. I figure that if some people might be hesitant to give blood wearing fancy wedding attire, if they see the bride doing it in her white wedding dress, they'd be more likely. This should be further proof as to how much I trust the phlebotomists - Rivka and Itzik. I won't even let the rabbi use red wine under our chuppah, but I am allowing blood to be taken!

Anyway, I'd like a wee bit of feedback, since I promised the bone marrow folks I could convince at least 30 people to do it. We have 300 guests (or so) coming, so that's 10%.

Shabbat Shalom

Sunday, June 19, 2005

How much???

Now, undergarments is a topic I do not generally get into here at Jerusalem Revealed, but the following incident is something worth sharing. Please be forwarned, if you are sensitive to modesty issues, the following story may not be for you.

After having made some changes to my wedding gown, I found that the previously purchased supporting undergarment of choice (henceforth: Bra) was no longer sufficient for the style of dress I will be sporting. Ladies will understand this, men: scratch your heads in wonder and thank G-d this isn't your problem. Anyway, I went into a boutique on Emek Refaim street, one that is known for its personalized attention, wide selection and quality. I explained to the saleswoman (who, as you will see in a few moments should win the award for best saleswoman in Israel) what I was looking for, and she was very helpful, and brought me several candidates until I settled on a certain bra.

Then, grasping my body parts in her hands, she complimented my, ummmm, you-knows, and told me that a young bride should only wear beautiful brassieres and panties, in order to please her husband, so that he will desire her even after 25 years of marriage. She suggested I throw away every bra and underwear I owned that was not up to snuff, and get some really sexy, colorful items instead. I explained that, as my nursing uniform is white, colorful will not always do it for me but that I would be interested in seeing some "beautiful underthings to drive my husband mad". I mean, she told me I had "perfect titsies" [direct quote], so who am I not to house them in the "beautiful underthings"?

I tried on a few sets - and I must say, they really were lovely. So lovely, its a shame one cannot (unless one is a Spice Girl or Madonna) wear them on the outside of one's clothing.

I finally settled on 3 pairs of bra+panties, reasoning that Bryan certainly deserves the best. Now, of course when one is brought these items into the dressing room, there is no price tag on the items. And I consider it rude to ask the price. Not sure why, I just do. (Even though what's rude is not to put the price on the item). I figured they'd be pricey, but how much could such a set cost? Maybe 250-300 NIs at the most.

So, we head over to the cash register, and ring up the purchases. Bryan, like a true guy, has been waiting outside the shop this entire time (well over an hour). 3 sets of bra+panties. How much can it be?

Well, imagine my shock and horror when the total bill came to 2,817 NIS. No folks, that is not a typo, we're talking $700 for 3 pieces of miniscule silk and lace.

Now, if I had any common sense, I would have said, "Wow, that is way more than I planned on spending, thanks for the help, but I'll just take the one bra I came in for and be on my merry way". But I have no common sense (though plenty of guilt and remorse). So I handed over my credit card and paid an obscene sum of money.

As soon as I got outside, I said to Bryan, "Honey, I just spent way too much money". Bryan didn't want to know how much I'd spent. "No, honey," I said, "I think I better tell you - I just spent more than our monthly rent on 3 pairs of bra + panties."

Now it was Bryan's turn for shock and horror. God bless him, he said, "Wow, that is a huge amount of money, but if you really love them I guess its okay". So I told him, "No, this is definitely not OK. I won't enjoy wearing them. I'll remember how much they cost and I'll be afraid to put them on my body."

One of the pair of panties alone (and sadly, my favorite of the 3 pairs) cost 500 NIS. You know the phrase "farting through silk"? Well, this went way past that. Way past.

So I sat down, and told Bryan I think I need to return these items. I don't have the money to spend like that, and I will not enjoy the undergarments anymore. However, I told Bryan I was too embarrassed to go back to the store and return the stuff. Mostly, I didn't think she' take it back and give me a refund. The most I would get would be store credit. And that wasn't so helpful.

Bryan kept urging me to try to return the stuff, or to simply keep it and deal with it. Finally, my amazing, fabulous, incredible fiance said, "Would you like me to go return the stuff?" How'd he guess?

So off Bryan went, worried that the bra lady would think Bryan was the type of man to forcibly remove purchases from his fiancee's hand and return them against her will.

But within 10 minutes Bryan came walking back, hands empty save for my credit card and a return receipt. She'd actually refunded the money. I decided to keep the cheapest of the 3 sets (still over 600 NIS) as a memory of how patient Bryan is. Though something tells me I'll probably get to se that quality a thousand times over.

And ladies, if anyone even thinks of shopping at that boutique, leave your credit cards at home and bring some common sense instead.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

On second thought - maybe we'll elope

I was all fired up to write about the Rabbanut during this post, but a newer, more imminent post has taken its place.

Until about a week ago, whenever people would ask me how the wedding plans were going, I would tell them how smooth and easy everything was. How I didn't understand why people said engagement is such a stressful time. How perfect everything was turning out.

I take that all back.

It seems that several things which were done deals became undone, all on the same night, and lord help the people who had to bear my wrath.

I present the following situation which occurred last week for your judgment and comments, as I am still feeling guilty and unsure.

I booked a certain band, which for the purposes of this blog we will call The Holy Rollers, back in February for my wedding in 6 weeks' time. When I booked the band I spoke to the band's manager Nimrod, who told me the price, and what was included in the price. I asked him to fax me a contract or meet with me, but he told me it wasn't important. I offered to pay a deposit, but he told me that The Holy Rollers don't accept deposits. I repeatedly asked for a written contract, but never got one. However, whenever I ran into the leader of The Holy Rollers, let's call him Simcha, he would mention my wedding and I figured all was fine.

About 2 weeks ago I called Simcha and Nimrod (not on the same day). I wanted to schedule the meeting one normally has with the band to discuss musical preferences. Plus, I figured they should know which musicians I wanted and what time everything was starting. I left each of them messages, and after 4 days of hearing back from neither, left each of them messages again. Now I was annoyed.

Then, last Tuesday, 1.5 weeks after leaving the messages, I got a phone call from someone name Adam who said he was the new manager for The Holy Rollers and that the old manager had been fired for being a flake (no kidding!). He then informed me of the new price list. The new price list for what I was supposed to get was almost $500 more than what I had agreed on with Nimrod. I told Adam that I didn't think that was fair or legal as I had a verbal contract with Nimrod. He told me that the best he could do for me was meet me halfway - charging me $250 more than I had agreed on with Nimrod.

I called Bryan to discuss who said, "No way - either the original price or we find another band". And I fully agreed with him. So I called back Adam and told him that Bryan and I both thought it was wrong, not to mention breaking a verbal contract, to charge us a penny more than what we had agreed on with the previous manager. We made a decision about music with a certain price in mind, and to change the price 6 weeks before our wedding was really unfair.

Adam said he was sorry, but $250 above our contracted price was the lowest he could go. He said that if I wanted to receive the original price I would have to call Simcha, the leader of The Holy Rollers, myself in order to get permission. As soon as I put down the phone I called Simcha and left a message saying I was very upset by this treatment and that he should call me back ASAP, that night because we were furious.

By 10 am the next morning I still had not heard back from Simcha (which was not unusual - since he almost never calls back, certainly not in a timely fashion), and I was getting angrier. There was no way I was paying a penny over the agreed price and at this point I didn't even want the band playing at my wedding, particularly if I had to pay more for them. I started calling other bands, all of whom were busy, which is not surprising since we're getting married during peak wedding season and even charedim plan a wedding more then 6 weeks beforehand. Suddenly, I hit jackpot. One of the best wedding bands in the area had an opening for our wedding day, but we had to sign the contract immediately, as there was another couple interested. I placed one more call to Simcha, who didn't answer his phone. So I signed the contract with the other band.

A few hours later, Simcha called to say that of course he would honor my verbal contract with Nimrod and would play at the old price. He was apologetic and all, but the fact was it was too late. I talked it over with Bryan, and we agreed to stick with the second band, who we had signed a contract with, and given a deposit to, and who hadn't screwed us around.

Then I called the new manager, Adam, to tell him what had transpired. He was understanably furious, as he had lost a gig, and tried to tell me that I had a contract with them and couldn't sign a contract with another band! Now, all of a sudden, I had a contract! When it came to price, I didn't ahve one, but when it came to booking the band, apparently I was bound by the verbal contract.

Fortunately, contracts law is about the only class I did well in, in law school. After arguing some points of law with him, I think he conceded that I was right, legally, if not ethically. I think I was right both legally and ethically, though I feel bad for Simcha and The Holy Rollers who lost a gig that they apparently re-arranged their schedule for. Simcha's only mistake was having incompetent managers.

Adam tried to argue that he didn't refuse to give me my original price (he flat-out did, by telling me that $250 more was the lowest he could go), he simply told me to seek approval from the bandleader (which I believe is his job). He then tried to tell me he was new at his job, and was worried he would get fired if he gave me the old price. I feel bad for him, but in that event he should have called Simcha himself and spoken to him, instead of leaving me hanging, overnight, and with enough time to find a new band. He maintained I should have waited to get a refusal from the bandleader as well before seeking a new band.

I'm interested in hearing people's opinions on this one, particularly MOChassid and Treppenwitz, since they are both involved in the Jewish music scene. I really didn't want to treat anyone badly during my wedding plans, but what would you do if it was 6 weeks before your wedding, you're being screwed over by one band, and another great band has an opening if you sign immediately?