Ale tseyn zoln dir aroysfaln, nor eyner zol dir blaybn af tsonveytik.
The average Yiddish curse is not what one might call succinct. In fact, our curses can be quite the mouthful. Consequently, they’re not for everybody nor every situation. They call for a distinctly determined degree of disdain, and a great commitment to the cursing cause. Anyone can blurt out an “F you!” in the heat of the moment, but a Yiddish curse requires conviction and some serious lung capacity (breathing being a luxury one cannot afford when reciting an interminable imprecation!).
Just to put things in perspective for you: believe it or not, length-wise, this particular proverb comes in somewhere in the middle. There are many curses in our repertoire that require an even more thorough throat-clearing session and a captive (perhaps restrained) audience. Much of the reason behind the length of our curses comes from a desire to cover all the bases. Take the curse in question: a gentile and/or novice might feel that wishing for a person to lose all of his or her teeth is more than sufficient all on its own, but we Jews see nothing but insufficiencies and loopholes! Think about it! Once said toothless-Tom, -Tim, or -Tullulah gets over the shock of losing all his or her teeth, the suffering is essentially over. What good is that?
I mean, when you get past the question of cosmetics, teeth just aren’t that crucial. Who needs to masticate a meal when the average Starbucks serving or Dairy Queen indulgence packs such a caloric punch? Speaking of fast food, thanks to the current, inexplicable smoothie sensation, there’s now a “King” (or one of his less-majestic counterparts) on every corner. Talk about uncomplicated consumption! Still not effortless enough? What about those powerhouse blenders, the Vitamixes and company?! Those suckers are commonplace in kitchens today and can turn a six-course meal into a slurpee in a matter of seconds. And what’s stopping this dentally-deficient dumkopf from springing for an artificial pair of pearly whites? Dentures have come a long way in modern times; heck, odds are your cursee will wind up with a better looking pair than he or she had pre-curse! Unacceptable! We just can’t allow for such possibilities! No, to us it’s worth the extra oxygen to affix the real zinger: “May all your teeth fall out, except one to give you a toothache.” There’s not a whole lot worse than an aching tooth, especially when it’s the only tooth you’ve got ... and especially for a people who sure as hell like to eat!
Dear reader, may all your teeth remain healthy for 120 years! (Unless of course you were the driver of the dingy Dodge who callously cut me off yesterday. …)
Zeyde Pinsky is pumping an imaginary passenger-side brake pedal while his permit-wielding grandson, Adam, fails to signal yet again. …
Adam: “You doin’ alright over there, Zeyde?”
Zeyde: “Vos zol ikh makhen? Adam, my boy, you’re going to give me a heart attack, G-d forbid! Stop with the tape deck already! Ten-and-two! Ten-and-two!”
Adam: “Chill out, Zeyde. I got this, I promise. Don’t you have anything other than Theodore Bikel and Linda Kazan?”
Zeyde: “It’s Lainie Kazan, and enough with the music! You need to be able to hear for honking! Not to mention the ambulance when they come for me, G-d forbid!” [muttering to himself, shaking his head] “Di mamma oysn oyg.”
Adam: “Huh? Zeyde, I can’t hear you over the music—you know, this Linda chick’s not bad.”
Zeyde: [reaching for volume knob] “Oy gevalt! I said, You’re just like your mother! I still can’t ride in the car with her without getting indigestion! Just—just do your poor old Zeyde a mitzvah and pull over a minute, will you? Ahh! Adam! Use your indicator!”
Once the car is safely in park, Zeyde takes a minute to catch his breath before he and Adam switch places for the ride home. ...
Zeyde: “Maybe better you just learn from observation for the rest of the lesson, good? Good. Now watch what I do, Adam. You have to pay attention and keep your focus on—”
Zeyde is so busy lecturing that he fails to check his blind spot and narrowly misses a maroon Golf. Horns blare, and Zeyde, leaning out the window, fills his lungs to capacity and shouts ...
Zeyde: “Ale tseyn zoln dir aroysfaln, nor eyner zol dir blaybn af tsonveytik!”
Adam: “Zeyde! The guy’s long gone and I doubt he understands Yiddish anyway. Wouldn’t it be easier to just give him the finger?”
Zeyde: “Easy is not always best, my boy. Besides, one doesn’t have to know he’s been cursed for it to work. I’d stay away from corn on the cob for a while if I were that behaymeh!”