Thursday, December 3, 2020

A bizarre contract from 1948

It's what I call a show day - tonight at 7 I'll be Zooming with the National Yiddish Book Centre in front of possibly a hundred people or more. Teaching days were show days - storing energy for the show, even if that now means just sitting in my kitchen, trying to look smart. 

I wrote here last time that I have a finger that once bent, gets stuck and needs to be snapped out by another finger. Chris wrote to inform me that he has TWO fingers like that. Oh sure, Chris, trying to one-up me as usual! He told me there's a name: stenosing tenosynovitis or trigger finger. It feels good that it has a name. 

So - sometimes rising in the morning with so much back pain that I can hardly walk; swelling knuckles; trigger finger; cracking knees. I think the ears aren't working as well as they could. But when you think of all the moving parts that've been going for 70 years - well, we're doing pretty well, this old bod and I. Not a single complaint.

I have found something bizarre and amazing in my mother's papers: a contract she signed and sent to Dad about their sexual activities, and consent. Have to say, considering it's from 1948, it's amazingly relevant today. It's an official-looking printed document with dotted lines to be filled in - Mum's answers indicated in italics. Barkus was their nickname for Dad's penis (from the line "Barkus is willin'" from David Copperfield) and La Lion(ne) was one of Mum's nicknames. The (more than somewhat) was a joke between them; apparently once Dad said, "I have strong feelings about you," and Mum in her British way replied, "I like you more than somewhat." The Mann Act, originally about prostitution, was used wrongly to prosecute ordinary people for sexual activity. Who knows what else I'll find in these papers?! (Sorry, the ends of sentences are cut off.)


  1. Wow! What a treasure to have found. It could be worked into an essay or column about modern times, couldn't it?

  2. Yes, definitely, and I will get to it one of these years!