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Intermarriage: Cut Crystal? Meet Dreidel. (my stand-up routine)

Last weekend at the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop I had the chance to try stand-up, below find an expanded version of my set…

Hi. My name is Ann. I hold the distinction of being a third generation Jewish Wisconsinite. Such a cliché, right? Because when you think Wisconsin you invariably think cheese curds, The Green Bay Packers, and plucky Jews.

My Mom hails from Janesville, Wisconsin. Her Dad hails from Janesville, Wisconsin. His Dad—my great grandfather–had the audacity to leave Janesville, Wisconsin to spend his later years on a Kibbutz in Israel. Other members of our extended family have followed suit by making their lives in Israel, including my brother. So naturally, my sister and I went West and found ourselves a Mormon to marry. No. Not the same Mormon.

The first time I went home with my husband, I didn’t find the religious differences as jarring as the cultural and political ones. Nevertheless, his parents welcomed me with open arms, open hearts, and open Fox News.

I remember walking downstairs to the basement and facing a huge framed poster of a peanut shell that read Election 1980: Get Rid of The Empty Shell. Jimmy Carter, blasphemed! Understand the context: In my Madison, Wisconsin elementary school presidential election of 1984, Walter Mondale won by a landslide 86% of the vote. Jessica Hallam copped to voting for Ronald Reagan, becoming the first Republican any of us bleeding-heart-fifth-graders met. She went on to confess her parents’ votes for Reagan, and moreover, that Reagan had actually won the “real” election. We had our doubts, but Jessica owned the first and only pair of Guess Jeans in our school, and suddenly we wanted in on trickle-down economics.

So, here I stood in a Springfield basement with my beloved, next to an autographed photo of Phyllis Schlafly, a book case lined with Coulter and Limbaugh, and window valances framing non-existent basement windows.

At My First Springfield Christmas, Husband’s family gave gifts with all sincerity that my family would classify as white elephants. A special edition Ronald Reagan coffee table book was bestowed with reverence and nostalgic sighs. Yuletide Hummels changed hands. My MIL-to-be gave me a solid cut-crystal…dreidel! I’d never received a decorative dreidel before, and if ever a gift symbolized intermarriage, the cut-crystal dreidel took the prize.

Husband’s family does Christmas the American way—huge and with plenty of salad starring marshmallows, mayonnaise and whipped-topping. I find Christmas overwhelming. As a kid I received presents at Hanukkah, but nothing like the three hour Springfield gift-athon that literally caused a two-year-old grandchild to cry and beg to STOP THE UNWRAPPING. Once, at a family Hanukkah dinner, I asked my Granny what she did for Hanukkah in her youth. She replied My Dad put 8 candles on a brick, gave us a dime, and that was it. Good thing Granny never had to play Santa.

Lasagna makes up Christmas dinner. Not just any Lasagna, but pork and cheese lasagna. Let me tell you that this Jewess goes hog wild on some pork and cheese lasagna, which only warms up the house for the main attraction: gift-opening snacks! On one Formican Island chipped beef (more meat plus cheese!) coexists with shrimp cocktail (shell fish!) and Ritz Crackers in their own specially-molded plastic Ritz cracker tomb (retrofitted crackers!).

In fairness, Husband did not find my family holidays exactly familiar. I thought I’d prepped him well for his first Last Supper. I briefed him on matzoh balls and Maneschewitz, and the names of the family short and balding. I warned him of atonal consonant-heavy sing-alongs. At some point during the Seder service, I turned to him for a spouse-survival check-in. I found my 6 foot 2 inch, blue-eyed, redheaded beau sweating profusely about the face, his head resembling a radish. I’m still not sure if I forgot to tell him about the jelled gefilte fish or the beet-horseradish.

*cue faux SNL get off the stage music*

My name is Ann. Good night!

Standingup

I didn’t go on until midnight. Can you tell?

38 comments… add one

  • OHmommy April 25, 2012, 5:25 pm

    GAH. I wish I was there to hear it. I’m laughing out loud in the middle of my kitchen. Brava, Ann!

  • SUEB0B April 25, 2012, 5:52 pm

    You rock. I’d LOVE to see you do this.

    Also? My friend told the tale of her parents forcing her to take a dreidel as a birthday present for the only Jewish girl at her school Dreidels! They’re what every Jewish person wants lots of, right?

  • Erin I'm Gonna Kill Him April 25, 2012, 6:23 pm

    I feel really satisfied that I did hear this. And you looked gorgeous on the big screen.

  • Elizabeth @claritychaos April 25, 2012, 6:37 pm

    What I’d give to see you perform live. I still swear I’m going to get you tipsy and make you sing for me sometime….

    Loved this, Ann. So funny and endearing.

  • Lisa Golden April 25, 2012, 6:47 pm

    I love it! I’m sorry I missed this.

  • gradydoctor April 25, 2012, 7:45 pm

    Go Ann! This is so BRAVE!! Wow.

  • Loukia April 25, 2012, 8:58 pm

    I so wish I was there to hear you, too! You’re awesome and so hilarious. :) And? You look great in that picture.

  • musingsonmotherhoodmidlife April 25, 2012, 10:42 pm

    Ann, you are so funny. As a fellow Jewess who married an Evangelist-raised man from South Africa I understand about culture shock!

  • Adventures In Babywearing April 26, 2012, 5:45 am

    How I would have loved to be there! I am so glad you shared this!! Also, I have family in Janesville. One time we stopped for a picture in front of the big cow and I left my purse there. Didn’t realize until we got all the way home to Indiana. We called the Janesville police and they went and checked and it was still there! They mailed it to me.

    Steph

  • The Empress April 26, 2012, 6:15 am

    People, Oh, I had the PLEASURE of being in the audience. She made stand up seem as natural as signing up for a free trial of your local paper.

    Ann was fabulous. Fantastic. Entertaining. Relateable. Humble. Heady. Funny. Endearing.

    In fact, the highlight of the EBWW for me was when someone stopped me the next day at check out and said, “You did the stand up last night! You were great!”

    I thanked them, of course. And reveled in being Ann Imig, the Jewess from Wisconsin, for one brief shining moment.

  • Jenna April 26, 2012, 6:22 am

    LOVE this!! :) makes me miss you, because I can hear you saying so much of it in your own speaking voice.

  • NiesGirl April 26, 2012, 6:27 am

    You killed it! And, I’m not surprised. WTG, Ann!

  • Amy Wilson April 26, 2012, 7:03 am

    You were great! And I loved that you did a 5 minute set without talking about being a mom. Inspired me that there are indeed sometimes other funny things to write about…

  • Amy Wilson April 26, 2012, 7:03 am

    You were great! And I loved that you did a 5 minute set without talking about being a mom. Inspired me that there are indeed sometimes other funny things to write about…

  • Always Home and Uncool April 26, 2012, 7:08 am

    So proud! And you did the whole routine without resorting to wearing a foam cheese hat shaped like the Star of David. Right?

  • Becky April 26, 2012, 7:24 am

    Bravo! Jerry Seinfeld MOVE OVER!!

  • tracy@sellabitmum April 26, 2012, 7:38 am

    Oh I wish I could have been there. I demand an encore performance!

  • Marta April 26, 2012, 7:49 am

    Love it! I too am perplexed by Midwest Christmases and their plentiful “salads” of marshmallow and whipped cream ingredients. Also in Minnesota stuffing is referred to as “dressing” I can’t even explain my Thanksgiving confusion when I was asked to pass the dressing. Considering there was no green salad which could be atopped with the salad dressing I assumed we were discussing. We marry into great things don’t we?

  • dusty earth mother April 26, 2012, 9:28 am

    Loved being there to hear you, Ann! And what do you know, this is just as funny in print as it was dropped like pearls from your ruby lips. Love you!

  • Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog April 26, 2012, 10:28 am

    This is hysterical, Ann. And I’m so glad you guys didn’t marry the same Mormon.

  • Nancy Davis Kho April 26, 2012, 11:10 am

    Guess jeans were always a signifier for Republican, in my experience. Where’s the dreidel now by the way?

  • Galit Breen April 26, 2012, 2:16 pm

    I couldn’t possibly love this more.

  • Maricris @ SittingAround April 26, 2012, 6:00 pm

    Great post, Ann. It is nice to see how you and your husband both adjust with the different culture.

  • Julie April 26, 2012, 9:12 pm

    Nothing says “Birth of Jesus” quite like chipped beef, right?
    (Someone said that once. Probably Ben Franklin.)

    Anyway, I so wish I could have seen this live.
    But DANG, I miss all the good acronyms: LTYM and EBWW.

    So maybe I’ll get lucky in 2014.
    I’ll bring the marshmallows and mayonnaise.
    Fingers crossed…

  • The Flying Chalupa April 26, 2012, 9:54 pm

    My first concern is…WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU BANGS?

    That being said, you do look fabulous, even if it is midnight.

    Is the crystal-cut dreidel on the mantle? Do tell.

    And like Julie, maybe I’ll get lucky in 2014 and get to hang with all you cool, cool people.

  • anymommy April 27, 2012, 9:12 am

    I may have to go to this conference next year just to see you on stage!

    Loved it. Hilarious.

  • Cheryl April 27, 2012, 11:18 am

    I could picture both sides of this new relationship. If you can make it through that matzoh marshmallow mishigas, I think you can make it through anything.

    Damn, I sure wish I could have heard you tell this. Funny in print but I’m sure even funnier in person.

  • Anna Lefler April 27, 2012, 2:57 pm

    Oh, man, this is great stuff, Ann. I heard nothing but raves about your performance and I’m so bitter that I didn’t last until midnight. #oldlady

    I’m so very happy and proud for you, though, even if it’s second-hand.

    Waiting for the video, baby!

    Cheers and congrats!

    XOXO

    A.

  • Karen @mom-mom-mom April 27, 2012, 5:19 pm

    Rats, I missed this! So disappointed that I wilted after two glasses of wine and three days of being nice. My college roommate insisted that she was from the only Jewish family in Wisconsin! (Kenosha, to be exact. Love the Brat Stop!)
    Wonderful to meet you in person and humbled to be a part of your vision during LTYM in Chicago~

  • Flawless Mom April 28, 2012, 3:23 pm

    Can I please just say that you are immensely adorable, as well as being incredibly funny. And adorable. And funny. And I’d have paid a ton of money to see this in person.

  • Suniverse April 30, 2012, 12:40 pm

    I’m so glad you posted this – I only caught your first bit during the boot camp.

    I love interfaith marriages – they bring out the WTF in everyone.

  • Duong Sheahan May 2, 2012, 7:22 pm

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • DuongSheahan May 2, 2012, 7:24 pm

    I love this! So FUNNY….thank you for the giggles. I grew up in BELOIT, WISCONSIN (neighbors). I hope to meet you IRL!

    @DuongSheahan

  • Anne Flournoy May 4, 2012, 3:53 pm

    I don’t like to curse that much in the comment section but a laughter-choked ‘FUKKKKK’ did slip out. “STOP THE UNWRAPPING” was only the beginning. Very VERY very funny post. Thank you Ann Imig!

  • Lady Jennie May 7, 2012, 12:56 am

    I would have loved to see this live!

  • Jack May 8, 2012, 12:45 am

    I have seen the horseradish at the seder move more than once. Catch them with something really spicy and watch the good times roll…

  • Joanna Jenkins May 9, 2012, 5:59 pm

    Oh man, I am sorry I missed this in person– I would have been howling and cheering! This is awesome….

    “Christmas the American way—huge and with plenty of salad starring marshmallows, mayonnaise and whipped-topping.” Hahahahahaha!

    Love you, Ann.
    jj

  • Anonymous May 10, 2012, 8:46 pm

    You truly are Annie Hall.

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