I took this photo at Ellis Island this past Monday. It was just one of many posters about the Yiddish theater scene on New York’s Lower East Side during the early 1900’s, and if I didn’t have a whiny 7-year-old boy tugging on my hand, I might have stayed there all day.
“Yonkle the Cowboy Jew.” Do titles get any better than this? No one in my family had anything to do with Yonkle, but I learned through my grandmother that her father (my great grandfather) was an actor and a writer in the Yiddish theater whose accomplishments included translating Shakespeare’s plays into Yiddish. What I would have given to see one of those plays. Even just thinking about Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” speech in a thick Jewish accent is pretty darn entertaining.
Also, I like knowing that my interest in words and theater is something that’s been a part of my family for generations. It makes me feel connected to my ancestors and gives a new perspective to why I do what I do, like my work is part of a bigger family history that I am also taking part in.
Don’t get me wrong—I LOVE being a writer and feel immense gratitude every day that my dream job is also my reality. But, if I could do anything else in the world (no matter how wildly unrealistic) I would like to help teenagers find love.
They’d call me The Hook-Up Whisperer. Or maybe Yenta to the Young.
And I’m not talking about writing an advice column for TEEN VOGUE or SEVENTEEN, I’m talking about becoming a full-blown Superhero of Love.
Look! Up in the bleachers at the middle school dance! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s… a weird middle-aged lady advising me to forget about the fact that Liam McKeen has spent the night dancing with that Abercrombie & Bitch Carli Strasser and to ask dorky Hal Dunlap (that quiet kid who doodles on his hands and dips his French fries into mustard–eww!) to dance. Is she INSANE? Or, does her Been-There-Done-That Super Vision allow her to see things my 13-year-old self cannot?
Of course, this is just one scenario. Wherever there is an insecure teenager pining over the wrong person or wanting to swap some spit but afraid to make the first move, the Hook-Up Whisperer will be there.