Jews, in particular Jewish fathers, happen to be associated with a distinct type of anxiety — one that hinders, handicaps, weighs on the shoulders, and seeps into the very fabric of Gefilte fish. However, what I’m here to discuss is not the presence of anxiety in the Jewish people, but the matter by which anxiety seeps into them, rather imperceptibly, and not, may I assure you, by way of biology.
It takes an ungodly low temper, a certain proficiency in sweating and pacing, in conjuring up fantastical images of in-home murders, and a particular preoccupation with rape statistics to achieve the level of anxiety that is the Jewish-father standard. But even once this is accomplished, a Jewish father cannot ensure that the same level of anxiety will be bequeathed to his daughter. Well, fret no more, oh nervous one! Follow these easy steps and you’re sure to have anxious offspring!
First — and may I, for further emphasis, repeat that this is a crucial preliminary step — the Jewish father (Fathew, for convenience sake) must welcome and embrace, rather than shy away from, the surge of anxiety that is engendered by the first sight of your daughter. Ideally, this first sight will be your daughter’s head crowning your wife’s now-wilting lady parts. Now…let’s just say this is your first child; Fathew sees this experience as merely the dawn of his child-rearing anxiety. Yet while this is certainly true, Fathew would be missing a critical opportunity; namely, to impose those first and most impactful worries upon his daughter. The kid has just left the recesses of your wife’s uterus for fuck’s sake. The infant is a clean slate, a tabula rasa. The clock is ticking; you better start fucking with that embryonic psyche now.
If the prospect of your child having an anxiety attack by age five is at all desirable to you, I highly urge you to take the newborn into your arms and sway her, not unlike a man infected with Parkinson’s might cradle his food or a book. Do not suppress the urge to press the infant’s ear against your left breast, to have your child’s first introduction to sound be the swift, staccato-like, and certainly abnormal heartbeat that has burdened you since you can remember. Make yourself imitable. If all goes well, the infant will hear this cacophony of aberrant thumps, and try to mimic them herself.
When naming the child, never, and I mean never, take into consideration playground bullying. A penchant for long, hyphenated names, including a silent “g” will do. You could try visiting your parent’s house and asking to see the family photo album chronicling great grandma Rosalyn and great grandpa Mordachai’s immigration to the States from Eastern Europe. In it, you will find sepia-toned square images of past lives in Russia, Hungary and Poland—straight-backed family photos besotted with long, wool coats, pageboy hats, and slacks of earth-toned colors. However it is not these details I urge you to lay eyes on, but rather the scores of names jotted down on the back of each photo, providing substance to the one-dimensional figures adorning its front side. Names you’re likely to find are Eileen, Shirley, Ivan, Baruch, Zethan and Hubara. Take a name — any name, really — slap a “Ben-David,” or “Yacob” on the end, and you have yourself a budding candidate for benzodiazepines!
True, all of the little things will eventually add up, but if you’re looking to expedite this process, you’re going to want to do something big — something that will haunt her for years thereafter. At 5-years-old, for instance, I threw a Hawaiian-themed birthday party. Droves of little girls, wearing hula skirts and plastic lays, lined up to learn some surely Americanized Hawaiian terms and some hula dancing. When I look back at these photos, I sometimes try and see if I can detect any indolence amongst the girls, any sign of joylessness or of my guests running low on steam. Anything, really, that could justify my dad’s decision to sneak into the back room, change into a hula skirt and a coconut bra, and make a surprise cameo mid-party. For years now, I’ve searched long and hard for an answer and my only conclusion is that my dad was aiming for The Big Kahuna with this one. Because yes, all of the little things do eventually add up, but if you want to guarantee your daughter has chronic anxiety, you’re going to want to pull an unforgettable move like this. An imbroglio is what you’re aiming for. Something that will leave a mark. Something scarring. Try taking your anxiety to the wheel in an epic 4-way traffic collision scare. Or, I don’t know, take her to see her first R-rated movie. Or better yet, walk in on her mid-masturbation one too many times. With any luck, you’ll forever remain an unseen presence in your child’s sexual encounters.
Fingers crossed!! Godspeed.