Written for Dafnagreer for the Purim Gifts 2008 challenge.
"So let me get this straight—"
"Oy, he said 'straight,'" snorted Amanda, reaching for her nail file. "Such a meshugah."
"Now is not the time for mocking, missy!" Marc chided in a Prime-of-Miss-Jean-Brodie voice. "You're losing your marbles, dear, and Uncle Marc is here to gather them up for you."
"What are you talking about now, my little boychik?"
Marc rolled his eyes and scooted over to share Amanda's desk chair. "That's it. That's what I’m talking about. What's with this Jewish thing?"
Amanda put down the file and shot him a look rife with 5700 years of suffering. "This 'Jewish thing?' Marc…I never thought you were an anti-Semite."
"Oh, for heaven's sake!" Marc sighed heroically. "I don't mean it that way. But why do you keep trying to speak Yiddish? And, by the way," he said, folding his arms and narrowing his eyes, "'faygele' is not a good word to use on your best friend. Let's just agree on that right now, Yentl."
"Yeah, okay," Amanda agreed, wrinkling her nose prettily. "But it sounded so cute."
"Whatever. The point is, you're not Jewish. You're just…acting Jewish. And not in a way an actual Jewish person would recognize. It's bizarre."
"Marc." Amanda swiveled the chair, nearly toppling him to the floor. "As you know, my father is Jewish."
"Amanda. Please, girl. Your father is Gene Simmons. You're more likely to be a rocker. An old, creepy rocker in really unattractive makeup." He considered a moment. "Yet with a strangely compelling tongue."
She sniffed again, pointing the nail file like a weapon. "It's not the same. He's Jewish. Therefore I'm Jewish."
"Honey, you found out who your father was, what, like ten minutes ago? You can't suddenly start throwing around Yiddish words and humming 'Sunrise, Sunset' all the time. It's kinda weird. People are talking. Muriel Rosenstock from Promotions complained."
"Well who the fuck cares what Muriel 'Childbearing Hips' Rosenstock thinks! She's such a kvetch."
"Would it make a difference if you knew Ralph Lauren came by while you were talking about maybe going to a, whatsis, a mikvah? And that he told Wilhelmina he thought you were certifiable?"
Amanda gasped. "Ralph Lauren?"
"Yes, the King of the Jews, WASP division. And Zac Posen was with him. He told Wilhelmina your little Barbra Streisand impression was offensive, and she spent all afternoon trying to calm him down. Better watch out – she's gunning for you, sweetheart."
Amanda moaned theatrically, reaching with claw-like hands to clutch at Marc's lapels. "But that's totally unfair! I practiced all night! I watched 'My Name is Barbra' five times! Is it my nose? Should I have it— " Her eyes glittered with suspicion."Wait just a minute. How come it's okay when you do Barbra Streisand?"
"Honey," said Marc, extricating his newly-crushed linen jacket from her tiny fists, "I'm gay. We're entitled."
In which Amanda refuses to bow down to tyrants
"Excuse me." The imposing figure in the white suit (Chanel) drew herself up to her full height, assisted by four-inch heels (Manolo Blahnik). "Perhaps I didn't hear you correctly. What did you say?"
"I can't go."
"Ah." Wilhelmina Slater drew in a long breath through her perfect nose (rhinoplasty, Dr. Armand Finkel) and leaned over the desk in a cloud of perfume (Giorgio). "You do work for MODE, don't you, Amanda?"
"And the Randi del Lago Fashion Week Show is this Saturday, correct?"
"And we're featuring Randi in the next issue, and doing a complicated shoot requiring the entire MODE staff to go to Bryant Park on Saturday, am I right?"
"Therefore," Wilhelmina said, showing white teeth (Bright Smile) in a feral smile, "you will be at the show bright and early."
"Sorry." Amanda shook her head. "I can't go."
"I see." Wilhelmina tapped a lacquered nail (Chanel, "Vamp"). "And why is that?"
"I have shul. It's the Sabbath."
"It's the Sabbath. Ah. I see." Wilhelmina smiled. The entire reception area fell silent. "You're fired."
Wilhelmina swiveled. Amanda's desk chair swiveled. Hiding behind Wilhelmina's door, Marc's head swiveled so hard he threw his neck out.
"No!" Betty Suarez juggled the huge box of papers she'd been carrying to Daniel's office, managing to set them down on the reception desk before they slid out of her grasp. "You can't fire her for not working Saturday."
"Miss Suarez. How typical of you to intrude on a conversation that has nothing to do with you." She turned her back. "Gather your things, Amanda. I want you out of here."
"You can't fire someone for religious beliefs," Betty persisted, planting her size 8 ½ flats (Payless) firmly between Wilhelmina and the desk. "It's illegal."
"Hmm. And I suppose you and your family know all about being illegal, don't you?"
"Wow, that was really offensive," Amanda said admiringly. "Go Wilhelmina."
"Shut up." Wilhelmina turned back to Betty, smirking at Betty's indignant expression. "Listen, Betty, you and I –" she gestured around the room "—and the entire staff of MODE, for that matter, know this new Jewish identity routine of Amanda's is a huge load of crap."
"It is not!"
"Shut up, Amanda," Wilhelmina barked. Amanda shut her mouth with an audible snap. "It's nonsense."
"So what if it is?" Betty leaned forward, her entire body quivering with intensity. "So what if this is some weird way of Amanda trying to connect with a father she never knew? So what if she doesn't know the first thing about being Jewish? So what if her attempts to embrace the culture are shallow and sad and even kind of pathetic?"
"Hey!" Amanda interjected, "don't help me."
"The point is, Wilhelmina, it's real to her right now, and she should be allowed to explore it. And if that includes taking Saturday as the Sabbath, then she should have that right." Not waiting for a response, Betty turned toward Amanda. "Of course, maybe that also means she should come in Sunday to make sure all the work gets finished from the photo shoot on Saturday."
"I think that's an excellent idea."
Everyone swiveled again, this time towards the source of the baritone voice. In Wilhelmina's office, Marc's neck snapped back into place.
"Betty. Wilhelmina. Amanda." Daniel Meade approached the cluster of women. "So, Amanda. You're being Jewish! Great. I—"
"If you say some of your best friends are Jewish, Daniel, I shall vomit," Wilhelmina muttered through her teeth. "There's no need for you to get involved. I have everything under control."
"Do you? Huh. Well, someone does, that's obvious." He looked pointedly at Betty and grinned. "Listen. Amanda, go do…whatever you do Jewish-wise on Saturday, and be here Sunday, 9 am. I imagine there will be a lot to finish from the del Lago shoot."
"Uh, all right, Daniel," Amanda said, simpering. "Whatever you say."
"Wilhelmina, I'll get you help for Saturday, I promise. Betty, maybe you can get Hilda?"
"Uh, sure," Betty said, looking dubious. "But Justin would be better. And he'd do it for free."
"Great! So. Everybody happy?"
Betty grinned widely, the fluorescent lights shimmering off her braces (Julia Tavares, D.D.S., D.M.D.).
"Terrific. Betty, go down to the deli," Daniel called as he walked toward his office. "Lox and bagels for everybody!"
Amanda straightened her skirt and reapplied pouty pink lip gloss. Next to her the bleached blonde pulled the cleavage of her Badgely Mischka lower by a fraction of an inch.
Competition? Amanda smirked. I think not.
"So…I haven’t seen you before." On Amanda's other side, a blowsy redhead wore a too-tight skirt with an unfortunately-placed slit that revealed chubby thighs. "You're so young…you didn't already have a bat mitzvah?"
"No. I mean, I don't think so."
The redhead coughed. "Don’t you know?"
"Yeah," agreed a brunette down the other end, with spectacular breasts and a spectacularly big nose. "How can you not know if you had a bat mitzvah?"
"Well, maybe I did," Amanda said dismissively, with an airy wave of her hand. "Whatever it is."
The other women turned to stare. "Say," said one suspiciously, "are you even Jewish?"
"Yeah. If you ask me, she looks like a shiksa."
"You should talk, Barbara," the brunette snarked. She reached across the blonde and poked Amanda's arm "So who did your nose? I want their number."
"Looks like Dr. Bernstein," said another woman, leaning over to study Amanda's profile. "He always makes them look so natural."
"You should've seen Adina Fischbein's daughter. So. Very. Natural. You'd never know the schnozz that girl had on her before."
"It is natural," said Amanda peevishly. "I take after my mother, okay? Can we drop it already?"
"Well! You all seem lively this morning, ladies."
The mood of the room brightened abruptly as a young man entered the room. "Good morning, Rabbi Mishkin," the women chorused sweetly.
Amanda gazed at the man at the front of the classroom and sighed in adoration. Who needed a front-row seat at the Randi del Lago Fashion Week show when you could spend Saturday morning with a guy who put Daniel Meade, David Beckham, Tyson Beckford and every other damn guy in the world to shame? This guy looked like a Greek god. Well, she corrected, a Hebrew god. No…that seemed wrong. A Mediterranean god.
"Are we all ready, then, for today's adult bnei mitzvah class?" The rabbi ran long, tanned fingers through his tousled black curls and gazed around the room. "Although…I guess it's going to be 'b'nos' mitzvah, isn't it, because there's not a guy in the class. All girls. Strange. Wonder why that is?"
The women giggled gently. Amanda laughed shrilly. Everyone looked in her direction.
The rabbi smiled, looking somewhat nervously at her. "Hello. You're new, right? So you want to have a bat mitzvah?"
She lowered her eyelids and looked up at him through her lashes. "I’m just looking."
"Ah, just, um." The rabbi looked momentarily flustered and consulted his papers. "Okay, then. So your name is Miss…"
"Just call me Amanda...Rabbi."
"All right. And we’re all friends here. So you can just call me Adam."
"All right," simpered Amanda, "…Adam." Oh, yes. It was good being Jewish.
"Don't get any ideas," the redhead hissed in her ear. "We saw him first."
"Yeah," muttered the blonde through very taut lips. "Besides, he's not available."
That's never stopped me before, Amanda smirked to herself.
There was a knock and the classroom door opened.
"Oh, it's you," the rabbi grinned. "Come in. Everybody –"
The women all leaned forward attentively, flashing cleavage.
"–I'd like to introduce you to someone very special to me–"
Ah, thought Amanda, mentally rubbing her hands. Wife? Girlfriend? We'll see what sort of competition–.
"–David Solomon. He's the new choir director for the temple, and he'll help prepare you." The rabbi sneaked an arm around the other man's waist and squeezed him in an unmistakably affectionate gesture. "And I'm happy to say he's also my partner."
Marc popped his head around the corner. "Mandy, honey? What're you doing here?"
"What do you think I’m doing?" Amanda growled, flinging files from one part of the desk to another. "I'm working."
"But…" Marc leaned over the desk, looking perplexed. "It's Saturday."
"So what? There's a show tomorrow. I have work to finish."
"But I thought you were really into this…" he gestured vaguely. "Into embracing your Jewish heritage."
"Please. Do you think Gene Simmons gets up Saturday morning after a concert and goes to pray? Get real, Marc."
Marc sighed and smiled understandingly. "So what is it really – boy troubles?"
"God, Marc." Amanda looked up imploringly and then flung herself dramatically onto the desk. "Men. They really suck, you know?"
"Oh, baby, I do know, I really do." He patted her head and smiled at no one in particular. "And may I say, 'Amen' to that, princess."