Several years ago, while visiting my parents back in New Jersey, my father and I ended up at ShopRite in search of some summer peaches. I noticed my dad carefully squeezing and inspecting each piece of fruit before slipping the good ones into the plastic bag.
I asked, “Hey Dad, are you going to squeeze every one?”
His response, replete with Yiddish inflection and syntax: “The sh*t they can keep!”
I instantly knew that remark was destined to become a family classic, not only because it was vintage Dad, but also because it summed up an enormous part of my upbringing in five words. (My dad is the “Baron of Brevity.”)
My parents have always worked hard, tirelessly providing for my brothers and me, as well as for our college educations, and their future – with a strong emphasis on not having their children support them in their golden years.
My parents have always provided quality work, expected fair wages, and used their money to buy quality things, because good things last and provide a certain quality of life. If my parents are going to spend their hard-earned money on a house, a car, clothing, or fruit, they always expect their money’s worth.
To waste was the biggest sin in my family. My parents never preached about daily religious worship, or warned against “impure thoughts” (thank God), but to waste was a sin! Time, resources (especially food), and money were never to be taken for granted.
What kind of schmuck (Yiddish for “penis,” more accurately … you get it) works his tuches (Yiddish for “buttocks,” more accurately “ass”) off only to throw his money away by paying too much, or buying second-rate goods?
Even more important was that this pursuit of quality should extend to our behavior, our work, our word, and to all things in which we are engaged.
After thirty years of teaching public school in Los Angeles (and fifty-six on the planet), I can say without equivocation that the quality of our public behavior, discourse, manners, and communication skills in general, fall far short of what was expected and accepted in my youth.
Whether you consider the abject surliness of the 2016 presidential campaign, the chronic obnoxiousness of certain celebrities at awards shows, or the Olympic-level depravity of the title characters of “reality” shows, it is clear that we have incorporated classlessness into our daily culture.
The only way to change that is by solid determination to expect and accept better!
Squeeze the fruit in all things that involve you!
“The sh*t they can keep!”
By Keith Douglas Kramer
Photos by Keith Douglas Kramer
Hand Model: Keith Douglas Kramer
Manicure: You’re kidding, right? 😉