Have you ever been somewhere you knew you needed to be, but wanted to get outta there as fast as you possibly could?
Smoothie's dad died last week, and this afternoon I went to the shiva. I read up on shivas on Wikipedia, but frankly, it didn't help. One thing I had been told was to make sure I removed my shoes. But they had posted a sign on the door saying guests didn't have to remove their shoes. So what was I supposed to do? Shoes on or shoes off? I was already having an anxiety attack in the vestibule. I took off my shoes and went into the living room.
I knew the family were not supposed to greet me. I was to walk over to them, but I didn't know where to go first. To Smoothie's mom? Smoothie? What to do? Everyone was in black, black dresses on all three of the ladies, Smoothie in a black shirt and pants, torn black tie.
His mom was occupied talking to people, so I approached him, Smoothie sitting low on his uncomfortable chair. As I was talking to him, his mother said "Nanuk, take a chair and sit down." I'd never met any of the Smoothie family before, so how did she know I was me? I didn't sit right away, because I was feeling so obvious and Catholic! Eventually, I got around to shaking her hand and again she said "Nanuk, take a chair and sit!" Mama Smoothie is a force of Nature, I quickly learnt.
Also, when you offer condolences, the family is not supposed to thank you. But Mama Smoothie thanked me and said they were doing the mourning all wrong. Okay, I thought. Older sister Smoothie also thanked me, but sister Smoothie the younger just looked at me in an evil way when I offered my sympathies. I just wanted to run away. Which I did after signing the book of condolences.