I am not the only Jew in the entire Inland Empire. I'm not, I'm not, I'm not. I try to remind myself of that several times a day, repeating it inside my head while suppressing a sigh.
I wander alone in the kosher food aisle at Vons, where the cans and jars marked "Rokeach" or "Manischewitz" keep a dusty vigil from one visit to the next. I've never bumped elbows with anyone within 20 feet of the egg noodles. The gefilte fish looks like it hasn't swam in anything remotely oceanic since the Dead Sea was still living.
I routinely clean out my favorite bead store of Jewish stars. I think they only re-order them because of me. It took two clerks 10 minutes last time to dig up their one remaining star, but it was a cloisonne beauty inlaid with tiny flower petals -- well worth the wait.
Mine is one of the few cars without a Jesus fish, but I try to compensate with a flag decal. It makes me feel like I have a plausible claim to fitting in, given the current jingoistic mood, even if it strikes me as wishful thinking. Since I'm not the fitting-in sort, whether it's due to lack of money in New York, lack of peroxide in Florida, or lack of a writing job in L.A., I just assume my fish-lessness is the latest variation in my odd-woman-out theme.
The occasion for my Jew Blues today was a fruitless search for a non-denominational holiday card. I like to write an end-of-the-year letter inflicting our life stories on relatives, and I usually choose fancy-shmancy inkjet paper for it.
Alas, I live in Kitsch City, and everything at Staples featured goofy snowmen or a red-nosed Rudolph, or a wintry New England scene. Nothing with a plain "Season's Greetings." Not even a "Joy" or "Peace." I'd have settled for something tasteful, something foil stamped or on faded velum or just elegantly understated. I long ago gave up on local stores carrying anything even remotely Hannukkah-related.
But why should they? I mean, why order a case of, say, lovely, crisp white papers with "Happy Holidays" stamped in blue when just one crazy Jewess will ever buy any? Local tastes demand snowy scenes of New England, a part of the country whose values were soundly rejected by my fellow exurbanites in a national election just, oh, was it two weeks ago? Already.
Mine is a small complaint. I found paper with a bunch of cute kids and families holding hands around the border. It's not holiday themed, but it'll do. And that's pretty much my life as a Jew in the Boonies. Somehow, I piece together my best intentions and confused misinterpretations and half-remembered snatches of prayer, and it almost works.
For now. Until I figure out how to get back to civilization, which I'm currently defining as anyplace with paper -- or voters -- in shades of blue.