Az men tut on sheyn a bezem, iz er oykh sheyn.
This expression gets right to the point and is as harsh as it is funny. The choice of subject is ripe with intrigue and warrants some exploration.
Why not an animal? After all, one need not look further than the farm to find fodder for many an unsavory comparison. In recent years, we’ve all been made to picture a lipstick-wearing-pig thanks to a similar expression being batted around the US political arena.
So, why a broom? Well, first of all, I like to think of this expression as a refreshing nod to an Old World ideal that, sadly, lies in contrast to our modern standards of beauty. Historically, Jewish women are hearty, and Jewish men like them that way. Compared to our shiksa counterparts, Jewish women are often endowed with countless curves and (luckily for our vertically challenged male equivalents) rarely reach heights above five-foot-three. (The Kogan legs are relentlessly, disproportionately short and stout; built for, as my aunt always says, running away from the Cossacks.) Therefore, if the Jewish standard of beauty (dating back to the shtetl) is closer to perfectly round than long and lean, you can begin to see why a broom is a greater insult than a pig or cow. And if this weren’t enough (one-dimensional affronts rarely are), the fact that an inanimate object was chosen as the subject of this expression—the ultimate utilitarian one at that—can only be meant to add salt to the wound. After all, imagine if you were trying to fix up a friend with an unsightly someone, and, when asked what the mysterious date is like, you couldn’t even employ the fall-back avoidance technique: talking up their wonderful personality! Homely and humdrum?! That’s one two-fer even a bargain buff like me would pass up!
Frank and Ruthie are reluctantly attending the Bat Mitzvah of a distant cousin’s awkward daughter, Piper…
Ruthie: “What kind of name is Piper anyway? How are you supposed to know if she’s a boy or girl?”
Frank: “Well, you couldn’t tell by her figure. ... ”
Ruthie: “Frank! Hush. [giggle] Can you believe how she read her Torah portion? I thought I was going to nod off. No personality on that one! Well, at least they got her in a skirt and a bit of a heel. Who knew? She doesn’t look bad!”
Frank: “Dress up a broom and it’ll look nice too.”
Ruthie: “Frank! You’re gonna make me split my girdle! Now get me a few more rolls, would you? I still have some room in my purse.”
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