Funny story, with a lesson. It's long, well, not very, but long enough that I have no patience writing it all down at once, so I will divide it up into two parts. Story today, lesson next time.
Two weeks ago, at the RCCS auction in Williamsburg, my aunt's niece (no, not my cousin- her niece from the other side...) was sitting with her friends towards the back of the audience.
She and her friends are high school girls who read my book and liked it (I would say loved it but that would make me sound big headed...) and were discussing it as they were waiting for my segment of the evening to come up.
Then the lights dimmed and the huge screens lit up with the slideshow. People got quiet in order to watch and listen and so this aunt's niece was able to clearly hear two ladies talking behind her.
They were discussing who Tzipi Caton was and where she was from and who raised her and who cut her sheitels and did her dry cleaning. I may be mixing things up, but you get the gist.
One lady decided that despite certain words I pronounce with a Chassidish havarah; I was definitely not "one of theirs". The other one, despite the picture of myself and my bearded, Chassidish husband at our engagement, decided that I must be from out of town, maybe from the country of Flatbush. Then the first one agreed, saying that despite my light skin and freckles, with my dark sheitel, I must be Sephardic. The second one was quick to nod and remind her that despite it being a known pen-name, the name Caton was a dead giveaway to my Morrocan/ Yemenite/ Marrano/ Mexican/ and not to forget, Chinese heritage.
My aunt's niece, by then laughing hard enough to cause those two ladies to "shush" at her because she was disrupting their disruption of the slideshow, turned around to tell them that I was a from a moderate Chassidish home, was born, raised, live, and will probably be buried within the same two block radius in Brooklyn, was from the most Polish of backgrounds possible and that my real name was common and normal enough to rival whatever theirs may have been.
The ladies looked at her funny and she told them, "Listen, I know her, we share an aunt."
And one lady, (I think it was lady number two) blinked slowly and asked her if that was my Sephardi aunt or if she was from the Chassidish side of the family....
So that's the story. Personally, I find it funny, but my mother had a good lesson to go with it. You know I am never one to pass up a good opportunity to stand on my virtual soapbox, so I will be back with the rest soon enough!