Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Shana Tova, Jewtopia

I've said many times that I'm extremely blessed by amazing friends, family and family friends. Sometimes, these people even become "famous." One such person is Sam Wolfson, one-half of the creative team behind the hilarious, dead-on, mega-hit, off-Broadway play Jewtopia (Jewtopia Play). Sam and I go waaay back; our grandparents were dear friends and our extended families remain close in our hometown of Jacksonville. It was evident from an early age that Sam wasn't going to be your typical Jewish guy, and I mean that in the best possible way. In high school, he had long locks and fronted a rock band while the other kids in our social circle were, like, shopping or joining pseudo-fraternities. Even back then, he just had that stage presence that so many Hollywood types aim for but never achieve. You're either born with it or you aren't, and he had it from the womb. To this day my dad still talks about this skit that he performed at one of his parents' parties. When I moved to LA, he was doing the stand up comedy thing out there, and I caught a few of his shows when I could.

Those of us who all grew up together always knew he would make it, and with Jewtopia, I think it's safe to say he has. But the best part about watching those you know succeed, is seeing how it doesn't change the core of who they are. Sam is still that goofy, self-deprecating, effortlessly funny, nice, Jewish boy that any mother would be proud of.

And, with the publication of Jewtopia the book, (Jewtopia Book), apparently both his mother and that of his writing partner and costar, Bryan Fogel, have much to be proud of. Or perhaps wary of? Sam tells me that they've put their moms' home phone numbers on the back of all the books that Warners printed for people to call if they have any questions. Apparently, the bubbes have been ringing the moms and leaving their grandaughters' phone numbers! But what I want to know is where is the love, er, press? The play is a monster hit, but I had to find out about the book through my mom??? In an era where slutty bloggers, fake addicts and dog memoirs saturate the media, can't us nice Jewish girls read some stories about some nice, Jewish, hometown boys who've made good? Hello?—The Forward, Heeb, Page Six, The Sun, NYT, Bueller? Sam tells me that the book has gotten so little press, that "we've now sunk so low as to go to Barnes and Nobles throughout Manhattan and sold them to people in the bookstore right there at the new release table." So, see the play, buy the book; I promise you won't be disappointed. And oh, yeah, they're cute too boot.

Bryan on left and Sam on right.

Losing It

The pattern seems to be that lately when I travel, I lose a little something. And, I'm not speaking metaphorically here about my dignity, pride or hope or anything lofty like that. I am talking about things, specifically jewelry. Let it be said first, for those who don't know me that I am a major type-A personality and am meticulously organized. Therefore, it is not often that I lose possessions, especially treasured or valuable ones. So it's only recently that this jewelry-losing thing has become a problem. Last September in Bermuda, a small diamond just fell out of a tennis-type bracelet. Fine, easily replaced. Then in January, in Atlanta, I lost that antique gold-and-diamond brooch. Not so fine, as it was antique, from dead Roxy and not replaced so easily. Never found that. OK, so this time in NY, a few strange things happened on the jewelry and accessories front. And if you're one of those superstitious "God is punishing" us types, the series of events is kind of amusing. Or maybe not amusing in the least bit. But you insist on reading, so essentially you asked for it.

And maybe I was lying a little bit when I said I didn't lose any dignity. Let the record reflect the following:

Thursday night, big plans: dinner at Babbo to be followed by girls' night out with my treasured friends I haven't seen in months. Well, dinner was preceded by a glass of wine at Cru, which was preceded by a dose of antibiotics on an empty stomach. Three courses of food and several glasses of wine later, I'm not feeling so hot. And I'm not looking so hot either. In the words of my bro, I looked "white as a sheet."

I manage to text my friends after trying for about 10 minutes: "S7 drunk. Npt making it out." Done. I manage to make it out of the restaurant in a vertical position, but then there is this little step that seems to escape my attention. Down I go. Onto the pavement; on my knees. The bruises are still here. My parents then proceed to guide me, hands-under-my-armpits-style, into the street so we can get a cab.

My dad tries to hail a cab, and the guy won't stop. He actually sticks his head out the window and says, "No drunk lady in cab."

Oh. My. God. Even in my inebriated state, I manage to be embarrassed. Next thing I know I am hugging the toilet. This almost always happens to me when I mix antibiotics and alcohol, and I know those warning labels are there for a reason. I really learned my lesson this time. I swear.

I am fine the next morning, go to the jeweler and Saks, then head to Spice Market for dinner with fam and friends, then see Wicked, then hit the Waldorf for nightcap.

Saturday: Rosh Hoshanna. The Good Jews are in synagogue. Mom and me? We're sleeping in and getting our hair cut in our hotel room while dad is at Emanu-El. Yeah, we're bad. So we finish with the cuts around the same time temple is letting out and we head to Barneys. The Good Jews are now eating lunch. We are getting another kind of sustenance. We are on the first floor of the store, in the Prada handbag nook. After lamenting the ridiculous cost of shoes and handbags and swearing we will not become victims of this punishing trend anymore, natch, we must scope out the dire state of accessories in our nation.

"I saw this one really cute pleated Prada that's not too heavy," I say to mom, pointing out the bag.

She bites, and picks it up. "Yeah, it's cute and not too heavy, but, it's like, $1,300, you know..."

"I know. Soooo ridiculous. Enough is enough. Let's go to clothes; no more handba—"

"OUCH!" Mom exclaims.


"A bee just stung me! There is a bee on this bag!!! Look!"

The salesgirls rush over, horrified, as if a homeless person had just walked in and tried to pee on one of the $1,200 pieces of crap. Sure enough, there is a bee sitting on the top of the bag. The salesgirl swoops in and kills it, a look of utter distaste on her face.

Mom and I are giggling at the absurdity of it all. A bee? In Barneys? On a Prada bag? I give mom some Purell and we move on to jewelry.

"Jeez," she says, rubbing her bee sting, "Do you think God is paying us back for not going to services today?" she asks, giggling.

I ponder this for a moment and say, "No, I think if it were God he would have sent a snake or something."

That night, we meet a friend for a drink at the W in Union Square, then have a divine dinner at Gramercy Tavern, then head to my absolute favorite bar in the city, The Four Seasons, for one last drink. After Four Seasons, my family elects to walk back to the hotel, whereas I elect to take a taxi, as I am wearing my new shoes and my bruised knees are aching. I beat my family to the hotel room, and as I am washing my face, my diamond earring catches and down the sink it goes. I open the drain; it's long gone. Probably replacable, as it's from the jeweler, but I probably won't get around to it. Continuing the losing streak into the next day, I am walking to meet the girls I stood up on Thursday for brunch before I head back to Miami, when I glance down for the time.

I look at my Cartier Tank, which had been acting up for a while—losing time, trapping condensation—and notice that it looks a little odd. Oh, why's that? Because it seems that the entire glass cover has just vanished. Poof. It's gone. Miraculously, the damn thing was still ticking.

OK, so if there is a message inherent in all this, then it's one I'm already aware of and trying to work on: enough with the jewelry and the clothes and all that BS. We really weren't so bad this time. But I am eagerly awaiting a couple packages from Barneys and the jeweler.

Hey, Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, isn't until Monday. And trust me I'll be in services for that one...