Re: Family

1

They knowingly let him get away with hiding his family from them.

That story would support the version you had always thought was true: a total break on his part from his awful family. (Although the reason was obviously wrong.) And yet, that isn't exactly what happened.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 6:38 AM
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2

True! Critical and awful in person, maybe, but not actually successfully dominating.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 6:42 AM
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3

This is still really fascinating to me. We have a family break of sorts (early parental death and abuse in the stepfamily, though I don't know the details) where a grandparent cut off contact with a branch of the family, but none of the secret identity stuff that takes this to a whole other level.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 6:42 AM
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4

Oh, and there is clear evidence that my grandmother knew everything - photos in E's album, addressing E's parents in my grandmother's handwriting. So basically, the big secret was only from his own kids.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 6:44 AM
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5

The same level as Batman, technically.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 6:44 AM
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6

Elsewhere in the family, there is lots of lore about difficult, critical women and kind gentle men.

We've got a bit of that going on in my family in prior generations, and I do tend to attribute it to sexism (hands up, who's surprised?). Not exactly sexism in the people describing the ultimate situation, but a situation where you've got an intelligent, energetic, aggressive person who's held back by societal expectations from being in control of their own life, and has to rely on a vague, drifty, low-energy man as the figurehead to actually get anything public done, you can end up with a deeply frustrated, angry person.

My maternal grandmother was agreed upon by everyone who knew her to be the worst person in the world -- a little known corollary to Godwin's Law forbids people who knew her from comparing anyone to her. She was also very bright, very energetic, and very competent, and I do think there's a good chance that she'd have been less awful if she'd had more scope for public life to get her energy and aggression out outside being horrible to her family.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 6:47 AM
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7

To be fair to societal expectations, there's a whole bunch of other ways to wind up with a deeply frustrated, angry person.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 6:49 AM
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8

E. had no idea that my grandmother was Jewish, and thought that M. was hiding his Jewish roots from his new family. Which he was, but it's an odd thing to do.

I mean, changing publicly to appear goyish is a common thing to do. But complete secrecy from your children about this change is weird.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 6:49 AM
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9

7: Absolutely. I mean, gainful professional employment is what's doing it for me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 6:51 AM
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10

4 suggests a third strong-willed, and ultimately successful, woman.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 6:54 AM
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11

10: She is indeed one of the strong-willed, critical women of family lore! But my mom is pretty convinced that the split originated with M. and that grandma was just going along with it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 7:30 AM
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12

Elsewhere in the family, there is lots of lore about difficult, critical women and kind gentle men.

Is this a recognized Jewish stereotype? It seems that way to me.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 7:35 AM
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13

Purest slander.


Posted by: Portnoy's Mom | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 7:40 AM
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14

This sort of reminds me in an elliptical way of Jack Nicholson's childhood. Most just in a "people tell kids crazy things when they decide they have to make parenting decisions for those kids which the kids won't understand" way.

I could certainly imagine that your grandfather felt like he had been dramatically ill-served by the circumstances of his upbringing, and he didn't want any of that -- the religiousness, the whatever personalityness -- for his kids, but then deciding that it would be too complicated and painful (for his kids) to explain why.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 7:44 AM
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15

11 And yet he kept up a relationship with them. And she kept the secret for 30 years after his death. Complicated fellow, your gf.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 8:00 AM
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16

Whenever you post about this I have to sketch out a family tree to see if I understand, and I'm never sure that I've got it.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 8:40 AM
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17

16: Glad to know that I'm not the only one.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 8:44 AM
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18

When my mean grandma died, people would console me and I would say 'thank you, I'm not really that sad, she was my mean grandma.' A surprising proportion, like a third or a half, knew just what I meant. They had also had mean grandmas. My hope is now that women who don't want children don't have to have them, there will be fewer mean grandmas.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 9:43 AM
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19

It could also be that as women are less bound by gender norms requiring deference and maternalness, more women will be mean to everybody, including their own grandchildren.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 9:47 AM
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20

One can hope, at least.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 9:50 AM
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21

18: My mean grandma ended up antidepressants starting in her 70s and all of a sudden wasn't so mean. But yeah, the more than half a dozen kids can't have helped her attitude.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 9:51 AM
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22

This story continues to be nuts.


Posted by: torque | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 9:53 AM
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23

Oh that's so sad. So did my grandma, in her 90s. Turned her sweet for the lonely last two years of her life.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 10:04 AM
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24

23: She's now in her 90s and enjoying life, at least relatively speaking, so at least she got some good years out of it.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 10:11 AM
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25

Oh. My grandma didn't have time to get any benefits from becoming nice. She had driven everyone away by then. It breaks my heart to think how it would have helped my family if she had gotten those antidepressants in her thirties.

The doctor prescribed her antidepressants because he asked how she was and she said "terrible. My children hate me, I am all alone, no one wants to be with me." He thought she must be depressed. My dad thought it was an accurate and perceptive assessment.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 10:25 AM
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26

21/23: So did my mean grandma!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 10:36 AM
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27

They don't email or really use computers. He was a doctor, so he was in a decently technical profession, but nope, gonna sit out this "computer" fad.

I actually think this is kinda me. I didn't choose a smartphone and after watching some pre-movie advertising for video games that looked like they were customizable in combination with a phone, I felt like I am missing on a big chunk of shared technology. Further, I hadn't known I was missing it.

I don't want it myself. And getting rid of home internet has been exactly what I hoped. But while it isn't as extreme as sitting out computers altogether, I think my chance for comfort and facility with that stuff has passed me by. I'll just hang out with my plants and hope to get telegrams.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 10:43 AM
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28

Elsewhere in the family, there is lots of lore about difficult, critical women and kind gentle men.

I offer my own hypothesis based on personal observation and speculation. I am of ashkenazi descent, so I feel free to put it out there. It may well be bats**t crazy -- I'll let the commentariat decide -- but it is not antisemitism. I will restrict the scope of my remarks to the ashkenazim since I don't know that they generalize to sephardim, mizrahim or other groups of Jews.

For at least a millenium, Ashkenazi males (and their antecedents since I don't think the Ashkenazi go back much more than 800-1000 years) had at least to affect mildness and meekness or they were likely to get the crap kicked out of them and worse. In a Nietzschean revaluation of values, a whole culture developed in which men of this type were the most respected. At the same time, the most prestigious male activity was Bible study, or rather Talmud study.

As a result either of the focus on Talmud-study or the relative haplessness of the men or some combination of the two, this turned many women into the family breadwinners. The same culture that revered mild men required strong, energetic, often-dominant women (not that they got prestige similar to that that accrued to Talmud study). Keeping the family together and fed required intense focus, organization and often tyrannical traits, and this last was likely compounded by frustration due both to the relative lack of prestige and the much greater family responsibilities that fell on their shoulders (even when the husband did not study the talmud and totally shirk any responsibility of providing for the family).

Come to the New World, and Talmud study has declined in prestige, but the culture's models of personalities appropriate for members of each gender take longer to adapt or dissipate. The result is a bunch of people with unpleasant personalities but less or no justification for them.

A corollary to this hunch is that this history is a contributing factor to the high rate of Jewish out-marriage today. Some of it may be desire for forbidden fruit, but in my generation (I'm mid-baby boom), a lot of Jewish men and women just do not get along.


Posted by: marcel | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 11:05 AM
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29

28 doesn't strike me as totally ridiculous, actually. There are some related dynamics in the black community, although like when I was going to say that we Catholics have some overlap with that relationship style there are also alternative stereotyped options at play.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 11:15 AM
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30

You can be Jewish and antisemitic, but you may not be meek enough to take that from a Catholic of Irish/Italian descent.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 11:23 AM
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31

You can be Jewish and antisemitic

When the term is used in good-faith, this is usually described as a "self-hating Jew". When used in bad-faith, the term characterizes many other phenomena, esp. "You are not behaving the way I think Jews should".


Posted by: marcel | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 11:30 AM
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32

In theory, one could be Jewish, love oneself, and hate all other Jews.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 11:32 AM
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33

30 & 32: My son, I see a long, successful career for you in talmudic study. Whether or not you were ever bar-matzvohed


Posted by: marcel | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 11:55 AM
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34

30 & 32 again: Comparison of the timestamps on your comments and the ones to which you are responding prompt the following questions.

1) Do you ever do anything (or get anything done) besides commenting here at unfogged?

2a) How many unfogged comment threads to you typically have open simultaneously in different tabs?

2b) How often do you hit F5 on them?


Posted by: marcel | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 12:01 PM
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35

1: Yes, but I do it at the same time I comment.
2a: Just one.
2b: I don't really use the function keys. It's Right Click-Refresh.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 12:02 PM
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36

Don't judge me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 12:03 PM
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37

No judgment. Just idly curious.


Posted by: marcel | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 12:07 PM
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38

Totally OT, but, while reading this completely absurd article, I literally burst out laughing when I got to the line: "In New York, teens and preteens are becoming savvy connoisseurs of real estate." I have to believe that laughter was the intent.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03-26-15 6:57 AM
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39

38: It depends on how much you trust the Times. The Twitter reaction to that was that the revolution needs to be accelerated.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-26-15 7:00 AM
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40

38: It depends on how much you trust the Times. The Twitter reaction to that was that the revolution needs to be accelerated.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-26-15 7:00 AM
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41

Oh, huh. Haven't done that in a while.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-26-15 7:01 AM
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