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‘…Who has not created me a woman!’

Some of my childhood heroes were Jewish men – Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David and others. As I grew older I developed an interest in Judaism that continues tod+ay.

In my studies I discovered an unusual Jewish prayer. In a passage recited by some traditional Jewish men in their daily morning prayers is this statement: “Blessed are you, Lord, our God, ruler of the universe who has not created me a woman…”

Originally disturbed by the “not a woman” prayer, I have come to learn that many contemporary Jews understand the phrase in a non-misogynic sense.

I offer this brief historical note to introduce my thoughts today and to emphatically state that I value men and women equally and, in some cases, believe that women are a notch higher on the human scale.

Since confession is good for the soul, I will admit that there are a few cases where I have been glad I was made a man. Childbirth is one of those cases. I couldn’t do it. Panty hose; I can’t even imagine. Bras? They are a great challenge for a teenage boy to snap open with one hand, but appear miserable as an undergarment. Nearly 16 years ago I dressed up as a nurse (a very ugly nurse) to spoof a friend on his 50th birthday. I cut a Nerf football in half and stuffed the halves into a 52DD bra. Not pretty and uncomfortable but I survived (and got a lot of laughs.)

And then there are bridal showers. I have long been grateful that as a male I did not have to attend bridal (and baby) showers. When I was a kid my mother would go to bridal showers with my Aunt Deloris and my girl cousins. Dad, my brothers and I would stay with Uncle Harold who always treated us to heaping bowls of ice cream. I felt sorry for the women who missed out on the ice cream.

When my late wife attended bridal (and baby) showers I was always happy to drive her there, if she wished, but far happier to find an alternative activity for myself. You can understand my consternation when, as a retired widower, I was told by my fiancée that I was invited to a bridal shower. Her colleagues were planning a bridal shower for her on an upcoming afternoon and they wanted both of us to attend.

The recent past has taught me that change is not only inevitable, it is okay to bend a little. With some trepidation I agreed to go to the bridal shower.

My fiancée works at the local school and I arrived just in time on the day of the shower to watch students board the school busses. That brought back a wave of memories, mostly good. I waved back at the little kids who thought it was cool to wave at the old guy standing by the school building.

Finally, it was time to go to the school cafeteria for the bridal shower. Though I attended high school in this district, the elementary school is all new and I had no idea where the hallways led. I simply followed Julie.

As we entered the cafeteria I estimated there were at least a dozen women, a couple of kids and, thankfully, two men - an instructor and a custodian.

Everyone was gracious and the first activity was a luncheon. I loaded my plate with a wide variety of goodies and grabbed a cup of punch. I enjoyed a table conversation with an instructor who is married to the younger brother of some of my childhood neighbor kids and, in fact, lives in their family home. The shower hostess called the program to order and I braced myself. Less than a half hour later it was all over and I did not experience one uncomfortable moment. In fact, I enjoyed the entire event. Julie’s co-workers were most generous and I wondered why I had been so fearful of bridal showers. I guess there are a lot of things in life that we worry about and when they happen we discover they weren’t as bad as we feared. Like bridal showers. And sort of like wearing a 52DD bra with Nerf falsies for an hour. For the record, however, I have no plans to do either again.

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