A very strange and disconcerting malady has been recently highlighted, known to overcome Mankind (and Womankind, for all you feminists out there! :-)) quite frequently. Scientists are not exactly sure what causes this disease or how to treat it, although we know for sure that it's definitely airborne, can be extremely painful, and can cause scarring. (Luckily, our Sages recognized the disease and pinpointed its antidote ages ago, but with all the red tape of trying to procure FDA approval, no wonder it's not yet available in pharmacies and supermarkets!) Worst of all, there's no vaccine available to prevent it. The dread disease? Let's give it a high-faluten name with a fancy acronym: FCBV, Failure to Cogitate Before Verbalizing.
My dear husband was recently the victim of an acute outbreak of FCBV when an acquaintance made a comment to him that could only be classified as "grotesquely insensitive". Let's just say it was WAY too insensitive to even publish on this here blog. I, too, have been afflicted by the FCBV germ (Epidemiology: the disease is highly contagious and spreads easily between spouses) on various and sundry occasions. Perhaps you, gentle reader, have also experienced its baffling sting. Worse yet, perhaps you (er, and even me!) have smitten others around you with FCBV venom!
"What was he THINKING?!" I asked no one in particular, mulling over the comment made to my husband, greatly chagrined.
And without knowing it, my question was highly profound (because I am often profound without actually knowing it. Isn't that profound? :-)). Because the simple fact is that, by its very nature, and boldly embodied in its high-faluten name, FCBV is characterized by...not thinking! The thoughtless words that come out of our mouths can sometimes be flabbergasting!
Unfortunately, as mentioned, there is no way of getting immunized against giving or receiving FCBV and the disease IS pretty deadly. The only way to fight it is to employ the sage advice of our Sages (disclaimer: I'm distilling and lumping together a few--by no means ALL--of these teachings here) and pray for the best. Here's what I'm reflecting on today:
1. Cherish silence! There's a reason we say silence is golden. Simply put, this translates into "keep quiet and mind your own business!" Or, as my mother taught me, if you don't have anything nice to say, say nothing at all!
2. Pause for a split-second before making that comment. Would you want someone saying that to YOU? Will it come out the way you intended, or is there ample leg-room for misconstruing it?
3. 'Fess up! If FCBV got the better of you, you're not the only one infected out there. But by all means, clean up your act! A quick, "I'm sorry--that was really thoughtless and insensitive of me! I really apologize!" has been found to be highly curative (and not just in lab rats!).
Whew! Now I feel better! Have you ever been exposed to FCBV? What are your, er, thoughts on it?
Not that I've been away from this blog for, like, two months or anything ;-0. As I told a friend, "For me, the words 'summer vacation' are a euphemism for the words 'life stops'!" It's good to be back. I'll tell ya one thing--Wednesday, the first day of real, live school, the silence in this house was PALPABLE!! (Yummmm....! No, really, I love them, I really do. But a little chunk of silence? Delish!)
While I usually try to be funky or fun or semi-clever with titles, I opted for the stark, unpretentious sort for this post. Probably because it describes a reality that is stark, unpretentious, and highly unfunny. I will describe it as best I can. See if it jogs your memory the way it painfully jogged mine.
First Day of School
Backpack ready, check. Lunch, check. New uniform, check. Let's go, Mommy, we gotta get there already! We'll be late!
I hope I get the teacher I want. I hope she's nice.
I'm saving a seat for my best friend.
It looks like this: Neat rows of desks and chairs, paired in twos.
Girls talking excitedly, re-bonding, sitting together. Best friends have saved seats, other girls pair up in the moment.
And then, against the wall...
Against the wall are the loners.
They sit next to empty chairs. There is no one to sit next to them. Yet.
They wait, with half-eager, half-dreading eyes as each girl files into the classroom.
Will she pick me? Will she sit next to me?
Will she alleviate the loneliness of the chair beside me?
Will she be my friend?
Will this year be different than last year and the last year?
Those silent, empty seats scream out very loudly.
About Riva Pomerantz
I'm a freelance writer, widely published in several magazines including the internationally-distributed Ami Magazine and Mishpacha Jewish Family Weekly. Riva's work also appears on the award-winning website www.aish.com, amongst others. You can buy my books here.