Purim 2009This year, my brother said he might be going to a different shul to hear megillah. One that is considered modern orthodox, rather than the, well, they call-themselves-yeshivish one my parents usually go to.
I was enthusiastic about joining him, even though we weren't sitting together.
I walked into the women's section, and thought, "Great. I can handle this." I didn't know anyone there, but I imagined they'd be pretty friendly. Three teenagers approached me and asked if the seats next to me were taken. They in fact weren't. The girls requested that I, and the woman seated next to me, moved down one. "Thank you," they replied. "Sure," I said, thinking they'd initiate conversation.
"Ohhmiiiiigoooooooodddddd!!!!!!!" One immediately shrieked. Her friend was directly behind her, and they all suddenly had, "like, the funniest, like, story," to tell.
These girls were dressed pretty much how I would dress. Casually. Denim skirt. Ugg boots. Although I wore a long black skirt, and my "Ugg"s are $50 Skechers, I knew people weren't looking me up and down, analyzing my clothing to pieces. I was dressed pretty much on their caliber.
Megillah finally started, and they were quiet. Till the middle of Perek Alef. "Omigod, like, how much do we have left?" one said, between smacks of gum. "Where are we up to?" Another barely whispered. "Look - he's so cute!" One began. Another was TXTing. This was a constant conversation - as if they were in a pizza shop.
I thought back to a teacher in high school who told us she went to hear Megillas Esther 4 times because she wasn't yotzei. Sorry, I'm not on her madrega.
My mind raced. I fought to keep up; concentrating on the meaning of the words was out of the question. What was really going through my mind was, "did I catch that word?" and "how can I tell these girls off without having them call me a bitch the minute I turn around?"
Besides, I couldn't talk during megillah anyway.
That was Purim night.
Rewind a year. I walked into my parents shul, and remembered I was supposed to have dressed up. No, not in costume. Fancy I mean. What I wore all day would not suffice for this crowd.
I wasn't in a stained denim skirt or anything. I was casual. Probably the same black skirt, knit sweater.
And I was completely ignored - well, other than the up-down-and-away looks I received upon entry. You couldn't pay those girls to be seen with me.
I had completely forgotten that in that shul, young women must always have their hair perfectly styled. Blown dry to perfection; not a strand out of place. A ponytail? Not if you're over the age of 8. Fresh make-up must also be applied before attending megillah. (Not the case in the MO shul)
So, I begin to wonder: Are my only options people who dress like me, but talk during megillah, or people who dress to kill, and judge me by my clothes, but remain silent?
Like Big Bro #2 always says, "Death of the in-betweeners," right?
(I already discussed the issue of kids in another post, so I didn't bother here. That'd be repetitive.)