Total Perspective Vortex
What really happened to Trillian? Theories abound, but you can see what she's really been up to on this blog. If you're looking for white mice, depressed robots, or the occasional Pan Galactic Gargleblaster you might be better served here:

Otherwise, hello, and welcome.
Mail Trillian here<

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Trillian McMillian
Trillian McMillian
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Women, The Internet and You: Tips for Men Who Use Online Dating Sites
Part I, Your Profile and Email

Part II, Selecting a Potential Date

Part III, Your First Date!

Part IV, After the First Date. Now What?

"50 First Dates"

Don't just sit there angry and ranting, do something constructive.
In the words of Patti Smith (all hail Sister Patti): People have the power.
Contact your elected officials.

Don't be passive = get involved = make a difference.
Find Federal Officials
Enter ZIP Code:

or Search by State

Find State Officials
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or Search by State

Contact The Media
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or Search by State

Words are cool.
The English language is complex, stupid, illogical, confounding, brilliant, beautiful, and fascinating.
Every now and then a word presents itself that typifies all the maddeningly gorgeousness of language. They're the words that give you pause for thought. "Who came up with that word? That's an interesting string of letters." Their beauty doesn't lie in their definition (although that can play a role). It's also not in their onomatopoeia, though that, too, can play a role. Their beauty is in the way their letters combine - the visual poetry of words - and/or the way they sound when spoken. We talk a lot about music we like to hear and art we like to see, so let's all hail the unsung heroes of communication, poetry and life: Words.
Here are some I like. (Not because of their definition.)



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11/17/13 12/1/13 - 12/8/13 12/15/13 - 12/22/13 12/29/13 - 1/5/14 6/29/14 - 7/6/14 9/14/14 - 9/21/14 9/21/14 - 9/28/14 10/12/14 - 10/19/14 11/23/14 - 11/30/14 12/7/14 - 12/14/14 12/28/14 - 1/4/15 1/25/15 - 2/1/15 2/8/15 - 2/15/15 2/22/15 - 3/1/15 3/8/15 - 3/15/15 3/15/15 - 3/22/15 3/22/15 - 3/29/15 4/12/15 - 4/19/15 4/19/15 - 4/26/15 5/3/15 - 5/10/15 5/17/15 - 5/24/15 5/24/15 - 5/31/15 6/14/15 - 6/21/15 6/28/15 - 7/5/15 7/5/15 - 7/12/15 7/19/15 - 7/26/15 8/16/15 - 8/23/15 11/6/16 - 11/13/16

Highlights from the Archives. Some favorite Trillian moments.

Void, Of Course: Eliminating Expectations and Emotions for a Better Way of Life

200i: iPodyssey

Macs Are from Venus, Windows is from Mars Can a relationship survive across platform barriers?
Jerking Off

Get A Job

Office Church Ladies: A Fieldguide

'Cause I'm a Blonde

True? Honestly? I think not.

A Good Day AND Funyuns?

The Easter Boy

Relationship in the Dumpster

Wedding Dress 4 Sale, Never Worn

Got Friends? Are You Sure? Take This Test

What About Class? Take This Test

A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away, There Was a Really Bad Movie

May Your Alchemical Process be Complete. Rob Roy Recipe

Good Thing She's Not in a Good Mood Very Often (We Knew it Wouldn't Last)

What Do I Have to Do to Put You in this Car Today?

Of Mice and Me (Killer Cat Strikes in Local Woman's Apartment)

Trillian: The Musical (The Holiday Special)

LA Woman (I Love (Hate) LA)

It is my Cultureth
...and it would suit-eth me kindly to speak-eth in such mannered tongue


It's a Little Bit Me, It's a Little Bit You
Blogging a Legacy for Future Generations

Parents Visiting? Use Trillian's Mantra!

Ghosts of Christmas Past: Mod Hair Ken

Caught Blogging by Mom, Boss or Other

2003 Holiday Sho-Lo/Mullet Awards

Crullers, The Beer Store and Other Saintly Places

Come on Out of that Doghouse! It's a Sunshine Day!

"...I had no idea our CEO is actually Paula Abdul in disguise."

Lap Dance of the Cripple

Of Muppets and American Idols
"I said happier place, not crappier place!"

Finally Off Crutches, Trillian is Emancipated

Payless? Trillian? Shoe Confessions

Reality Wednesday: Extremely Local Pub

Reality Wednesday: Backstage Staging Zone (The Sweater Blog)

The Night Secret Agent Man Shot My Dad

To Dream the Impossible Dream: The Office Karaoke Party

Trillian Flies Economy Class (Prisoner, Cell Block H)

Trillian Visits the Village of the Damned, Takes Drugs, Becomes Delusional and Blogs Her Brains Out

Trillian's Parents are Powerless

Striptease for Spiders: A PETA Charity Event (People for the Ethical Treatment of Arachnids)

What's Up with Trillian and the Richard Branson Worship?

"Screw the French and their politics, give me their cheese!"

Mail Trillian here

Trillian's Guide to the Galaxy gives 5 stars to these places in the Universe:
So much more than fun with fonts, this is a daily dose of visual poetry set against a backdrop of historical trivia. (C'mon, how can you not love a site that notes Wolfman Jack's birthday?!)


Alliance for the Great Lakes

Hot, so cool, so cool we're hot.

Ig Nobel Awards

And you think YOU have the worst bridesmaid dress?

Coolest Jewelry in the Universe here (trust Trillian, she knows)

Red Tango

If your boss is an idiot, click here.

Evil Cat Full of Loathing.

Wildlife Works

Detroit Cobras

The Beachwood Reporter is better than not all, but most sex.

Hey! Why not check out some great art and illustration while you're here? Please? It won't hurt and it's free.


Kii Arens

Tim Biskup

Jeff Soto


Get Fuzzy Now!
If you're not getting fuzzy, you should be. All hail Darby Conley. Yes, he's part of the Syndicate. But he's cool.

Who or what is HWNMNBS: (He Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken) Trillian's ex-fiancé. "Issues? What issues?"

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Smart Girls
(A Trillian de-composition, to the tune of Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys)

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

Smart girls ain’t easy to love and they’re above playing games
And they’d rather read a book than subvert themselves
Kafka, Beethoven and foreign movies
And each night alone with her cat
And they won’t understand her and she won’t die young
She’ll probably just wither away

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

A smart girl loves creaky old libraries and lively debates
Exploring the world and art and witty reparteé
Men who don’t know her won’t like her and those who do
Sometimes won’t know how to take her
She’s rarely wrong but in desperation will play dumb
Because men hate that she’s always right

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

Life(?) of Trillian

Tuesday, October 20, 2009  
So, a Presbyterian, a confused agnostic and a Hindu walk into a Bris.

I wish that was the start of an off color joke.

It's not.

Yet again life imitates Seinfeldian art.

After three daughters, a miscarriage and a few unreproductive years my friends were blessed with a bouncing baby boy. The mother, my friend, spent the last four months of the pregnancy in bed per doctor's orders. The pregnancy wasn't deemed high risk, but, the kid was in a "compromising position" and so my friend was told to go home and go to bed for four months. With three young daughters to care for this was no easy task for her. I have to hand it to her husband, he really manned up and did a great job dealing with all things domestic and child-rearing during those four months. I have deeper respect and appreciation for him, now. He redeemed himself for some of his previous jerk-like behavior.

One positive aspect about my unemployment is that since I was laid-off for two of those four months I had time on my hands and could help while my friend was stuck in bed.

We've kind of drifted over the past five years. We see each other once, maybe twice a year. We communicate mainly by e-mail. She quit working after the arrival of daughter #2, they moved to the far flung suburbs and, well, we just didn't have a whole lot in common anymore. And she didn't have time for me, the single friend "all the way" in the city.

I understand. Three young children take up a lot of time and energy. I get it. And of my friends she was the least critical of me regarding my singleness. And she's never flaunted her husband's salary and the fact that she doesn't "have" to work at me. In fact she repeatedly confides that they struggle without her paycheck and that she'll have to go back to work once the kids are in school full time.

So when I found out about her bed-bound confinement I felt slightly more compassion than I would for some of my other mommy-land friends.

One of our mutual friends was on bed-rest during the last two months of her last pregnancy. She and her husband had one three-year-old child at the time. When the doctor confined her to bed for two months she went home, put the nanny on 24 hour live-in status (the nanny was already taking care of their three-year-old 8 hours/day...don't ask me why since the mother doesn't work...), hired a local chef-service to do their cooking and spent two months in bed shopping online. She already had weekly maid service. Oh, and she had her personal trainer come to the house to perform "low impact, no strain toning" on her. I think it was mainly massage. But I'm not sure what went on there and I don't want to know. Though she did look incredibly fit just a few weeks after her delivery, so, maybe there's some kind of magic low-impact bed-workout secret for wealthy mothers-to-be.

But for my recent four-months-in-bed friend there would be no nanny, no maid service, no chef service, no personal trainer for her. And since I wasn't working for the last two of her four months in bed I was able to help her and her husband. I was happy to help. I adore their girls and it was great to have something to do, some useful way to spend some of my days. And it was nice to reconnect with my friend.

Okay. So. The big day arrived and with minimal pain or effort out popped a healthy 8 pound boy. Yay.

I received an email with photos of the boy just moments after his birth. A little too much information for my taste, but you know, the miracle of birth and all that.

Two days later I received, um, I'm not sure what to call it. An invitation, of sorts, to attend the baby's brit malah. I thought this was a private, sacred ritualistic thing reserved for family and maybe one or two very, and I mean very close friends. In spite of the time I spent with them the past few months I didn't consider myself to be close enough to them to include me in this sacred rite of passage. I figured they were just being polite because of all that I did for them the past few months. (Or maybe they were hoping I'd help look after the girls during the ceremony.) And, I dunno, I thought my agnosticism/Gentile birth excluded me from attending. I'm not up on Hebrew law, but the presence of a Gentile-by-birth-turned-agnostic-turned-confused at a sacred penis cutting seems somehow, well, wrong. I figured the "right" thing to do was to just, pardon the horrible pun, blow off the bris. They didn't really want me there and I certainly didn't want to be there. Right? I mean, don't those seem like logical assumptions?

Okay, well, within a few hours of the brit malah announcement I had emails from several friends. Who also received the brit malah "invitation." Some of my friends were all, "uh-uh. No way. We're not going." "Can you believe this? That custom is just disgusting, why would anyone invite people to witness it?" A lot of the men were very vocal in their refusal to attend, "those things make me really uncomfortable" was the overwhelming response from the husbands.

So then I felt bad for my friends, the new parents. Our mutual Gentile friends were behaving very Gentile. Okay, since I'm slagging them off anyway, I'll just come right out and say what I really think: Our mutual Catholic friends were behaving very uptight and superior.

In the end the only three of us who attended were the three non-Catholic Gentile friends. A Presbyterian woman, a Hindu man, and me, a lapsed Presby-Methodist-turned-agnostic-turned-confused woman. An unlikely but well-intentioned group determined to represent the kind, non-judgmental, love-all, accept all contingent of the Gentile population. With each passing email of disdain and contempt from our friends our "Hey, we don't do this in our religion and we don't really understand it, but that doesn't mean we think it's wrong. We refuse to mock that which we do not understand," stance became more adamant. After several days of increasingly intense email debate it became clear that the three of us would attend the brit malah. There would be no blowing off the bris.

Okay. So. What does one take to a bris? My rule of gift giving thumb is: If Hallmark makes a card for it and you're attending in person a gift of some sort is required. I trotted off to the Hallmark store, the biggest in the city, to see if they carried brit malah cards.

Okay. Dis is Chicago. A very Catholic-centric city. So maybe that's why the women working there a) didn't know what a brit malah is; and b) didn't know if Hallmark makes cards for one. When I explained what a bris is to them they were a) embarrassed; b) aghast; and c) certain that Hallmark would never, ever make a card for that. They suggested either a generic "new baby boy" card or, oddly, a Christening card.

They had loads of Christening/baptism cards. A whole huge section. Probably close to 50 or more cards for welcoming a new baby into the Catholic or protestant faith. Clearly, by my rule of gift-giving thumb, a gift, and a lavish one at that, is required for a Christening/Baptism.

One of the Hallmark ladies, I presume the manager, had an eureka moment as we were pawing through the religious card section. "What about a Bar Mitzvah card?"

Seriously? I mean, really, seriously? My response was to laugh, I thought she was joking. When I looked across the aisle and saw her proudly proffering a Bar Mitzvah card I realized she wasn't kidding. The woman was Hell-bent on selling me a card and the closest thing she could find was a Bar Mitzvah card. So dammit, she was going to sell the Hell out of that card. She was not going to let a customer leave her Hallmark store empty-handed. It's a Gold Crown Hallmark store. They have a reputation and standards to uphold. No occasion, event, life episode shall be cardless. That's the Hallmark ethos, the Hallmark way.

We finally settled on a generic "blessed event" card. I wasn't entirely comfortable with it because it looked kind of Gentile, but it was the only "blessed event" card without a cross or Jesus scripture on it, and after all their effort to help me find the perfect card I felt obligated to buy something.

After I left the store, blessed event card in hand, I pondered the blessed event. It is a blessed event, I guess, right? I mean, it's a big deal and it's religious so it must be a blessed event. But. I dunno. I'm not a guy and I'm not Jewish so I can't possibly really understand the circumcision thing, but is it kind of weird to consider the cutting of foreskin a blessed event? I mean, what's blessed about it?

I realize that's a loaded question and I'm admitting a very naive and ignorant point of view, but, um, I mean, where's the blessed in that event? I know. I know. Adam. Original sin. Completion of the male. Controlling animalistic passions. I know "why" in the ritualistic sense. I'm not that naive. I have two semesters of world religion and a semester of Bible-as-literature under my academic belt. I know just enough to be filled with confusion and questions and a deep desire for acceptance and respect for other peoples' religious beliefs and customs.

But the "blessed event" card nagged at me. Somehow it just didn't seem right. And the illustration of the baby kind of looked like a girl. It was supposed to be a generic blessed event baby but the Hallmark illustrator clearly was thinking "girl blessed event" the day they sketched up that card.

With four weddings behind me this year it's very likely there will be at least one or two blessed events on my near horizon so I stored the card away. This left me with two problems: 1) no card, Hallmark apparently doesn't make a bris card or at least one sold in Chicago, so, 2) is a gift required, and if so, what?

I was thinking a generic new baby gift. Safe. Appropriate. He is a new baby. But one of my Gentile bris going companions thought that a gift for the parents is more appropriate for a bris. She looked at it from a different perspective: We're congratulating them on having a boy-child.


I hadn't thought of that angle.

What does one give to congratulate the birth of a boy-child? Season tickets to a sporting event? Power tools? A six-pack of beer?

We turned to the third bris going companion. Himself a man. But. A Hindu man. And a friend of the father of the baby in question. His take on the whole thing was even more spiritually skewed and confused than ours. He felt an offering to a God of some sort was in order, perhaps even a sacrifice. Failing that, at the very least food, lit candles, and a prayer of some significance.

He was trying to find a card, too. He took his search online. He was trying to find an appropriate prayer or poem. He came up empty. For him, all things sentimental lead to Ghandi. He found a few Ghandi quotes that were nice, generic, but nice.

Since our friends are on the secular side of Judaism we figured they'd be down with Ghandi. But we were also very aware that their families would be in attendance. And the husband, the father of the circumcisee, has parents who are very, very, very strict about their Judaism. They keep Kosher. They are not at all happy with what they deem as their son's lapse of faith.

From there the conversation took an inappropriate but humorous turn. What would be useful, a practical gift? Maybe a box of Band-aids? Gauze? Antibiotic cream? Condoms and some KY?

Among us we knew that Elijah is an important figure at the bris and so we set off to find Elijah-based prayers or scripture.

I didn't come up with much that I liked. What I realized is that there's apparently a need, a market, for bris cards, prayers, gifts, a Gentile go-to guide for what to do, what to say and what to give should they find themselves attending a bris.

I decided to buy a bottle of Kosher wine for the parents and cute little plush baseball rattle for the baby. And I would make my own card.

After a several hours and a few glasses of wine (Kosher, to get me in the spirit of the event) I still had next to nothing for the card.

"Thousands of years ago Adam made a bad decision;
So today you pay for it with a circumcision.
Mazel Tov. Love, Trillian."

"Today your blessed journey to manhood begins
With prayers and wine and a snip of your foreskin.
Mazel Tov. Love, Trillian"

"A sweet baby boy, so innocent and pure,
Born into a world filled with tough decisions.
Blessed is he whose choices are set and sure.
Congratulations on your circumcision.
Mazel Tov. Love, Trillian."

"Adam sinned with Eve and everything changed,
God looked around the Garden of Eden and realized
That things were not going as He arranged.
So from then on every boy had to be circumcised.

Fear not, little man, it's all for the best.
It might seem like a weird and cruel way for your life to begin,
But life isn't easy, this is the first of many tests.
Soon you'll learn the least among them is losing your foreskin.
Mazel Tov. xo, Trillian."

"You won't believe me now, amidst the embarrassment and pain,
But one day you'll thank your parents for the ritual brit malah.
Your Gentile friends will envy the unfettered joy you gain,
When you reveal the full Monty that'll make the chicks hollah.
Mazel Tov. Trillian."

"Eight days old, time to learn to take it like a man,
Today we snip your dick so you won't be damned.
Congratulations on your circumcision. xo Trillian"

"Congratulations on your circumcision.
You won't regret this painful decision.
You'll learn, when you're older and desiring sin
Chicks dig guys without foreskin.
Mazel Tov, Trillian"

"Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Lutheran, Pagan,
Mormon, Muslim, Taoist, Buddhist, Wicca, Hindu.
So many choices but your fate is is pre-ordained,
With a snip of the foreskin you're among God's chosen few.

Congratulations on your circumcision. xo Trillian"

A Haiku for the new Jew
"Sharp blade on soft flesh.
Tears of pain and joy rain down.
The Bris is complete."

"A new baby boy with a new baby penis,
Congratulations on the event of your bris.
xo love Trillian."

"Congratulations on the event of your bris,
You're a man now, with a circumcised penis.
No longer damned, you're among God's chosen few,
You without foreskin, a circumcised Jew.
Mazel Tov, xo Trillian"

You get the drift. I'm going straight to Hell. And Hallmark probably isn't a viable employment option for me. Nor is a Gentile go-to guide for things Jewish.

I settled on a very generic "Congratulations on your new baby boy, may his life be filled with peace, love and happiness."

That's okay, right? All safe and good intentioned, right? I mean, that's very interfaith and worldly wish, who could argue with any of those sentiments?

Whew. Okay.

Admittedly, obviously, I knew nothing about the ritual other than it's the ceremonial circumcision of a male child on his eighth day of life. I assumed it was performed by a rabbi or some official Jewish circumciser and I assumed there would be a lot of sacred Hebrew scripture reading and that would be that.

Boy did I underestimate the significance of the brit malah.

The three of us drove in from the city. We hit unexpected traffic so we were cutting it pretty close (pardon the unintended pun). We arrived at the last possible second. I didn't have a lot of time to take in the festive transformation before the ceremony began, but, the house was decorated, the living room furniture was removed and several rows of chairs were rented, several tables of food were spread throughout the living room, dining room and kitchen, bottles upon bottles of Kosher wine were on hand, and a big, fancy table/altar thing with a very heavily adorned basket was at the front of the room. There was a big fancy chair and I noticed that the large Warhol lithograph that usually occupied the wall space behind the big fancy new chair was no longer adorning the wall. I suppose a giant luridly colored graphic of the Brooklyn Bridge isn't the most appropriate backdrop for a religious ceremony, but then again...

Let me back up a minute. The Presbyterian and I spent the entire two hour trek to the suburbs wondering why they do this at the house and not at the Temple. Obviously we're very Christian-based Gentiles and we're used to our religious ceremonies taking place at a church with an altar and parking lot in place, all nice and convenient-like. When we finally arrived at our friends' house our point was punctuated by the fact that the street was lined with cars and we had to park three blocks from the house. We dressed up because we figured we were supposed to dress up so the Presbyterian and I were in heels and the Hindu was in slippery bottomed dress shoes. And it was chucking down rain. That tidy Christian church with it's convenient altar and parking lot doesn't sound like such a bad idea now, does it? And no chairs have to be rented and no furniture or wall decor has to be removed.

We finally arrived, soaked and sore-footed, deposited our bottles, plural, of wine on a table with a lot of other bottles of wine and put our cards and gifts on the gift table. We took the last three seats in the back row of rented chairs. There were programs printed and placed on the chairs. (Like a church bulletin.) It listed the parents, the older sisters, the grandparents, the aunts, the uncles, the cousins, the, I kid you not, OB-GYN, and all the participants in the ceremony. That's when I realized this was to be an elaborate ceremony.

Within minutes of our arrival in walked an older woman carrying the new baby. This was the first most of us saw of the new baby and so we all craned our necks to see the kid. He was the star of the show, of course, but even more so than at a Christian baptism. At those ordeals people look at the baby, smile beatifically as if offering a prayer and think, "Awwww, how cute, what a sweet little baby. My, Susan isn't losing that pregnancy weight very quickly, is she? Hmmmm, I wonder if there will be cake in the fellowship hall after the service." At this event I got the feeling I wasn't the only one thinking, "Awwww, how cute, what a sweet little baby. Poor bugger, he has no clue what's about to happen to him. Should I smile beatifically? That hardly seems appropriate considering he's about to have the flesh cut off his penis...poor little guy..."

Christian upbringing made obvious in 3-2-1: All I could think about was Jesus' entry into Jerusalem and that the only thing missing was a donkey and palms for us to regale him. No, no, I am not comparing a circumcision to a crucifixion. I'm just saying, the overall tone and feeling of the entry of the kid into the room seemed a lot more anointed, a lot more auspicious than your average Christening. And I'm guessing that's because everyone there knows what's going to happen next. A painful procedure involving a penis. I mean, let's just have out with it. Where, in any other realm, would it be acceptable to proffer up a newborn's penis for mutilation while a bunch of adults watch? And then celebrate with food, wine and merriment? I mean, really, call me a naive, judgmental, ignorant Gentile, but this is just kind of weird. Remove the guy in the front of the room wearing obvious religious garb and you've got a solid case for child abuse. Seems to me if any skin is to be cut it should be done in the cold sterility and privacy of a hospital surgery room. And yet, eight days after a Jewish baby is born this is accepted and even regaled as a beautiful custom.


Christian upbringing once again repressed. Many of the guests started saying Baruch Haba. I had to look that up after I got home. Because at the event I thought they were saying Brush Abba. Which immediately sent my mind wandering, trying to think of the most appropriate ABBA song. SOS? Fernando?
Super Trouper?
I realized that, thankfully, I don't know many ABBA songs, and yet, oddly, why don't I know more ABBA songs? Should I know more ABBA songs, if for no other reason than comedic irony purposes? I didn't know how to say Baruch Haba and I didn't think I should attempt to fake it. God probably wouldn't like me trying to fake some sacred greeting. "Pffft, typical gentile, always trying to fit in, always trying to be polite, never wanting to offend anyone and all the while offending the very people they're trying to not offend." So I just tried to think of the words to Super Trouper and smiled as beatifically as I could.

When the woman finally made it to the table/basket/chair she handed over the baby to my friend, the baby's mother, she in turn passed the kid to what I presume were grandparents, aunts, uncles, and finally an older man, I presume a grandfather of the baby to be snipped. The baby was placed in the elaborate basket and then the basket and baby were placed in the big fancy chair.

The grandfather lifted the baby's, um, "dress" and the kid's diaper was undone. The father of the baby and the religious guy, I later learned not a rabbi but a mohel, a circumciser specialist, started saying what I assume are prayers or blessings for the baby.

At this point the middle daughter, aged 5, and also the most outspoken and active of the three daughters, was having difficulty standing still and keeping quiet. She was very excited about the festivities surrounding her new younger brother. She'd been tugging at her mother's dress and whispering to her mother. As the father and mohel were mid-blessing she asked, out loud, loud enough so that the neighbors three houses down could hear her, what all of us Gentiles were thinking, "I said, when (dramatic pause only five-year-olds can manage) are (dramatic pause only five-year-olds can manage) they (dramatic pause only five-year-olds can manage) going (dramatic pause only five-year-olds can manage) to (dramatic pause only five-year-olds can manage) cut (dramatic pause only five-year-olds can manage) off (dramatic pause only five-year-olds can manage) his (dramatic pause only five-year-olds can manage) wiener?"

Okay. How the heck am I supposed to not laugh at that? When in life am I going to be sitting in a room full of strangers with a naked baby sitting in a big fancy chair and a five-year-old asking, yelling, "When are they going to cut off his wiener?" Probably never again.

The three of us Gentiles in the back row were doing everything we could to not laugh. I mean everything. Because no one, not one other person in the room, seemed to think the little girl's query was in any way humorous. We three Gentiles seemed to be the only ones who thought it was hysterical. This is probably why we're not God's chosen. This is yet another reason why I'm going straight to Hell. If I believed in Hell, that is. The good news is that if there's a Hell it's now been confirmed that I'll know at least two people there, a Presbyterian and a Hindu.

The bad news is that we'll probably spend eternity listening to ABBA.

Everyone just ignored the outburst as if it didn't happen. That's some kind of spiritual higher plane. Or maybe that's normal behavior for a five-year-old at a bris. Maybe this happens all the time. Maybe that's even part of the ceremony.

Based on my friend's (the baby mama) crimson red cheeks I don't think that's the case.

Okay, finally, it was time to cut off the baby's wiener. I mean foreskin. The guy I presume was a grandfather held the baby's legs apart. The baby either knew something fishy was going on or he just doesn't like his legs being splayed apart and his manhood exposed to a bunch of strangers. Oh yes, we could see it. The baby was elevated in that basket on the chair, even in the back row there was a very clear view of, um, it. I wanted to look away. I really did. I didn't want to see "it" and I certainly did not want to see "it" mutilated.

I mean, I've seen the grown-up result of this process and I gotta say, given the choice I prefer circumcised over uncircumcised, and given that preference I suppose the adult thing to do would be to accept that this process has to happen and I should at least be aware of what men go through to become the "sort" of men I prefer. But I dunno. That seems like way too much information.

18 years from now I could be invited to this kid's high school graduation party. I think you know where I'm going with this. I really, really, really do not want to think about this day, this event, when the kid is 18 and heading off to college.

Gotta hand it to the mahel, he was quick. Blessedly quick. I was surprised they didn't use any sort of anesthetic, maybe some of that spray numbing stuff or a lotion or even a swab of something. Nope. He just went in and snipped away. Not only that, he did it with a flourish. All that was missing was a "Voila!" at the end.

And then I learned a few things about my Hindu friend. He's squeamish. Very squeamish. And he's not circumcised. I learned these things as grabbed his crotch, let out an audible "eeeah," the color left his face, and he fell into my lap. Still holding his crotch. Mama mia.

The people sitting across the aisle of rented chairs and in front of us looked to see what the commotion was.

The dark skinned Hindu guest was whiter than the fair-skinned Scottish Gentile guest seated next to him and he was in her lap, tongue hanging out and clenching his crotch. The fair skinned Gentile girl rubbed his shoulders and patted his head while the other Gentile woman got up to find water for the fainted Hindu.

Maybe our Catholic friends were right. Maybe this is a rude and savage custom. Maybe us Gentiles have no place here. Maybe we three got it all wrong. Maybe we never should have attempted to pay respect to our friends and their customs and their new baby. Maybe we should have just sent flowers.

The ceremony continued. The baby was handed to his mother. There were a lot of what I presume were prayers or blessings but I couldn't quite make out what exactly was being said or going on, what with a Hindu passed out in my lap and a wailing baby and all. The baby cried. A lot. Wine was given to all the people up at the "altar." Including the baby.

I mean, the poor little guy, geeze, what a nightmare. There he is, fresh out of confinement in the womb, first he's cut away from his mother and now this? And worse, in front of a room full of strangers? Eight days old and the kid already learned how unfair life is. I mean, couldn't they at least give the kid a local anesthetic? What would be the harm in that?

The Presbyterian quickly returned with water. And while the baby and his family imbibed on wine and the other guests said/sang some song/poem, my friend was revived, and, with him still holding his crotch and sweat pouring down his forehead we took the opportunity to excuse ourselves to the hallway in hopes that he could get himself together and get over the apparent shock of the whole thing.

Okay. I need to explain something about the Hindu in my lap. I don't really know him very well. He's a colleague of my friend's husband. Over the years we've attended the same parties at their house and a few times a group of us had drinks after work. He lives in the city and once he gave me a ride to a barbecue at our friends' house in the suburbs. We're friendly but we're not "close."

A little more background: He was born in India and raised in London. He's lived in Chicago via New York for over 20 years. Normally there's just slight hint of a British schooled Indian native accent to his voice. As he came-to a bit more he blurted out, in the most back-alley just-off-the-plane from Bombay cockney accent I've heard since my last trip to London, "What the bloody Hell?! They just bloody cut the thing?" He said it louder than the five-year-old's query about cutting off the wiener. I couldn't see into the living room, but given the sudden palpable tenseness in the air I sensed that a lot of eye rolling and daggers were being sent our way. Still in shock he said, "Savages! These people are savages! Why do you want it cut off anyway? What is the purpose of this? It works fine with the foreskin!"

Just so we're all clear on the über comedic aspect of this, imagine Apu from the Simpsons being voiced by an English guy imitating an Indian guy. Got that aural imagery? Okay, now, imagine that voice yelling, "Savages! These people are savages! Why do you want it cut off anyway? What is the purpose of this? It works fine with the foreskin!"

While he clenches his crotch and two women administer water and cold water soaked paper towels to his forehead.

All that Ghandi enlightenment flew straight out the window. So much for his Hindu higher plane of consciousness.

I'll grant you, it was pretty, well, savage. I guess. For wont of a better term. I don't even have one and for a minute there I was "tensed" up in empathetic pain. But the bigger problem is that this was our first bris. None of us have sons so we've never faced the whole circumcision issue head on. (I swear I typed that without realizing the pun until several minutes later.)

There was no doubt in my mind at that point that our Catholic friends were right. This was no place for prudish Gentiles or squeamish, uncircumcised Hindus.

It was still pouring rain outside but we led him out to the back deck anyway. We just wanted to get him as far away from the ceremony as quickly as possible. We stood out there a long time. A very, very long time. He cursed and yelled all the while doubled over in sympathetic pain. I stole a glance inside and saw that the party had begun. I figured we could make a break for it, a polite and discreet departure.

I found my friend, the mother of the baby and motioned that we were leaving. She came over to see if we were okay. "We" were okay, ish. She felt bad for our friend. "I thought you knew what happens. I should have explained it to you," she said to the squeamish uncircumcised Hindu.

"No, I knew, I knew. I just, didn't think it would"

Some of the male guests came over and jocularly patted him on the back.

"First bris, eh boy?"

"Snip snip!" (Motioning of scissors.)

"We can have the mehel take care of yours for you, while he's here might as well get that little problem of yours resolved!"

"Snip snip!"

One of the guys tried to offer an olive branch of understanding. "Don't your people circumcise?"


At this point the Gentile women in the crowd got a little uncomfortable. We'd already learned waaaaaaay more than we wanted to know about this guy. And now mocking and cultural understanding of penises was going to be the topic of conversation? Enough. Enough already. This whole thing was spiraling out of hand and I felt bad for my friend, the new mother. This was her son's big day and the non-Jewish attendees were distracting the attention away from her son.


So we left.

Maybe we're immature. Maybe we're unenlightened. Maybe we're just really bad people. But. That being the case that is the first and last bris I will ever attend.

9:29 AM

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