Please Excuse the Pointing Gentile

16 Mar

Isn't it glorious?

The girl at my local bakery gave me a nasty attitude yesterday.

I don’t typically wander into bakeries, so when I do I expect them to be full of wonder and delight.  Pastries are happy.  Always.   In fact, when I began to daydream in the middle of the workday about the possibilities in store for me there, I pictured dancing jelly donuts, danishes, and beautiful, pristine cupcakes.  I was excited to stare at all the loveliness through the clear glass, all excited with eyes as big as saucers.

I guess I kinda forgot that other people go to the bakery a little more often than I do.  None of them really wanted to stop and treasure the special moment with me.

In fact, the girl behind the counter wasn’t having any of it.   Unfortunately, it appeared she hated her life, her work, and all beautiful things.   I can’t imagine a world where I hate pastries and find no joy in handing them out to others.  I mean, I may be a bit of a cynical recluse, but I can still get excited over the prospect of a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies and I might even go out of my way to give them to some people.

Perhaps her anger toward all that is wonderful was fueled slightly by my inability to pronounce the names of the things I wanted, which meant I had to resort to pointing.  I’ll bet she hated that.  I’ll bet that if I worked in a bakery, I would hate that too.  I totally get it.  But listen: I’m not Jewish and I live in a neighborhood full of Orthodox Jews.  I get newsletters in the mail from the local Jewish Community Center updating me on how they’re working to welcome the community into Sarah and Abraham’s tent.   But try as I might, I still sound like an idiot when ordering homentasch.  Which, for your reference, is also spelled   hamantash,  hamentasch,  homentash,  (h)umentash,  and (המן־טאַש).  So yeah, I’m not so sure on that one.  I’m really sorry.  Please excuse the crazy Gentile, making ridiculous demands and pointing at your pastries.

My entire idea of the bakery was shattered.  It was no haven, no refuge from reality.  Alas it was a shop.  A shop that employed people, some of whom I’m sure did not apply because of a deep, harbored passion for pastries.   Which meant it was only a matter of time before they became jaded grumplepussses (read: pointer haters).

So I’m sorry, small, pale, grumplepuss girl from my local bakery.  I forgot that the pastry world does not hold quite the wonder for you that it did for me.  But I memorized the way you said homen/humen/haman/hamentash/tasch, and I promise to not annoy you when I next visit.

Unless I need to order something else



9 Responses to “Please Excuse the Pointing Gentile”

  1. jaredblakedicroce March 16, 2011 at 9:18 am #

    Awww man, what a downer. Here in Astoria Queens, where there are far more Greek bakeries than people to attend them, the spirit of the confectioner represents the quality of the edible treasures behind the glass. Who cares how i pronounce chummanin-taschin, or whatever, so long as i pay with that commonly accepted type of green paper? I say you storm back in there and slap that grumplebottom around with a loaf of semolina!


  2. pegoleg March 16, 2011 at 6:16 pm #

    I don’t blame that girl. Walking into a shop that sells pastries, expecting the people working there to be glad to sell some to you – the nerve! Perhaps you missed the “Members Only” sign?


  3. Lori March 16, 2011 at 10:52 pm #

    I just learned what hamantash is on Monday when my friend said that she baked it over the weekend with her mother. Then I saw some at Costco. Then you wrote about it. It’s becoming clear that I’m meant to eat some hamantash.


    • Jackie March 19, 2011 at 10:56 am #

      Lori, when the universe speaks so clearly you musnt’t wait.


  4. leahsinger March 19, 2011 at 12:53 am #

    I can so relate to this. When I visited my first Bristol Farms Market and saw the many cheeses and freshly baked goods, I cried. Really, I did. People thought I was in need of medical attention.

    Oh, and take it from this Jew everyone, go out and buy yourself some hamentashen. You won’t be disappointed.


    • Jackie March 19, 2011 at 4:44 pm #

      LOL so true – it’s delicious! I love that you cried – that’s hilarious. I’m pretty obsessed with the “cheese cave” and my local supermarket. They store special cheeses in there that have to be stored at a certain temperature and I always wonder in and stare even if I can’t buy.


  5. Unna March 20, 2011 at 9:10 am #

    I remember when I was in France once a year; it was a thing my theater school had – an annual tour down to the Festival OFF in Avignon. Having our base in another small town (Sommières), I was wandering through the streets on my own. I ended up by a bakery and felt like a croissant. I mean, how hard could it be to order a croissant in French? (at that point, I was already getting over the fact that they didn’t speak a word of English, let alone other languages than French.) So I did – and I did it politely (mais oui: “Un croissant, s’il vous plaît.” That simple. And my pronounciation ain’t half bad).

    I can’t remember how many times I had to repeat myself. But I had to repeat myself – several times! The woman behind the counter just looked confused and and asked, “Quoi?”. Then I pointed to the pile of croissants, and she exclaimed: “Aaaah, un croissant!” Oui, madame! Merci!

    *sigh* Oh well.


    • Jackie March 20, 2011 at 10:55 am #

      Thanks for sharing! It’s nice to know I’m not alone in this experience. I love that you ordered something as simple as a croissant and still had trouble. haha! I appreciate the link on your site and I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for stopping by!


      • Unna March 20, 2011 at 11:34 am #

        Exactly! Ordering a croissant in France (if anywhere) shouldn’t be that difficult.

        But I think that if I’m not in the average bakery or coffee shop, I do become that pointing gentile; “Wtf is that?! It looks good. One of THOSE, please!” Cuz, ya know, what can you do if you don’t know any better? 😀

        Anytime! – and thanks for the look!


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