Jul 25, 2006

Max Weiner, Gemologist, and other stories



Max Weiner cracks me up. He's "our jeweler." I never thought I'd say I had a jeweler, but there you go. It started out when TJ decided to buy me a ring, and after wandering around Jeweler's Row for a while, someone directed him to Max for the estate stuff. I think he was looking for something antiquey like your Bubbe's Deco engagement ring. Anyway, he met Max, Lorraine and Phyllis, who were all happy to help him drop some cash on a nice diamond ringed with sapphires in a hand engraved platinum setting [for further discussion of what it feels like to receive a diamond ring when you are someone who has always been disparaging of diamond-sporting girls, see "Bling" (Hickman, 2006)].

Max Weiner is what we call "hamishe" (pronounced HAY-mish-eh). It's a yiddish word that my mom has always used to mean family-like, that is, you feel comfortable with that person because you sense that they are more or less like people in your family are. Whatever that means. Jewish people often refer to other Jewish people using this word, but it's by no means limited to that. I think Judi Moon is hamishe, and she's Korean. Anyway, as a bit of trivia, it turns out that the word is descended from the same word that Amish comes from - meaning "down-to-earth," which isn't quite the same thing, but there you go.

Anyway, so he's hamishe. Phyllis ans Lorraine are also, and it's not because they're particularly nice or sweet or that they give you advice on your love life. They just talk to you like you're not a stranger. So, Murray Weiner became our jeweler, and when it was time to get wedding bands, we went back to him. Right around that time, I realized that he wasn't even the best jeweler -- not highly observant, let TJ order a ring that was vastly too big, and didn't even have as good an eye for detail as I do. But we still went back to him because we like him.

I just went down there to pick up our wedding rings, which we had hand-engraved. We kibbitzed** for a little while (that's another yiddish word for y'alls to look up) and I was about to leave when he grilled me as to whether I've been to his new restaurant yet, and why not? His new restaurant is called Bubby's Brisket, and apparently is some kind of fast-food version of Jewish Soul Food.

Me: Oh, I bet TJ will want to go, but me, I don't eat the red meat so much.
Max: Why?
Me: I am trying to eat a low-fat diet.
Him: Why? You're skinny.
Me: (stoked) Uh, thanks... I have high cholesterol. Need to watch out for sat fats.
Him: It's not fatty! It's low fat!
Me: Oh come ON.
Him: No, it is! We take out all the fat in the process of cooking it our special way [insert lengthy narration of fat-eliminating cooking process].
Me: Ok, I'll try it.
Him: Here, have a coupon! Bring these flyers to your office! You ever need catering? I can make a mean salad with a nice vinaigrette.
Me: Ok, thanks Max. See you.
Him: Ok, so long. Come to the restaurant. You won't regret.


** Oh jeez. Every time I look these things up I find out that they don't mean exactly what I think they mean. The term kibbitzer, or kibitzer, (and thus the verb to kibbitz or kibitz) comes from the chess cafes of central Europe at the start of the 20th century. A kibbitzer did not play chess, but watched other people playing, and possibly made comments on their play. So the word has a connotation of butting into other peoples' business with unwanted commentary. I always thought it just meant "shooting the shit," you know, chit-chatting.

P.S. I am now listening to Gentle Giant Octopus (1972). Have you heard this stuff? It's almost as good as the Cat Steven's Numbers album...

7 Comments:

Blogger capella opined...

I have had the same experience a number of times with Yiddish words. For the record, I had the same mental definition of kibbitz that you did.

5:39 PM  
Blogger capella opined...

My problem with diamonds is more along the lines that I don't think they're all that pretty, and as your link points out, more expensive than other stones. Fortunately I like my birthstone.

Also, how come the woman wears a "taken" tag for months before the wedding, and the man doesn't? I think it would be cool to have, like, matching engagement pocket watches.

5:42 PM  
Blogger Dennis opined...

My wife and I don't have a jewler, but I love being a regular somewhere--where the person in the shop (or restaurant) and I smile and chat w/ each other when I arrive.

We don't have a jewler because I made our wedding bands myself. But, we do have a piercer!

10:55 AM  
Blogger Dubin opined...

Cool, how? What do they look like? What are they made out of? TJ said he wanted his ring to look like the Lord of the Rings ring, minus the pure evil.

11:02 AM  
Blogger capella opined...

I don't think it would matter much what they looked like... but they would be useful (I am not sentimental enough to want to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a piece of jewelry I will only wear for ~ a year), and we would both have one. They could be engraved with our names or something. Theoretically only men are supposed to have pocket-watches, because only men have vests, but I think they are cool anyway.

9:08 PM  
Blogger amanda bee opined...

I'm just guessing here, Capella, but I think that question was meant for Dennis.

While we're on the subject you are supposed to rock your ring forever, not just until you're done being engaged.

9:46 PM  
Blogger Dennis opined...

Our rings are mokume gane, which is a Japanese technique. It's two metals layered and twisted together so it looks like wood-grain. In our case it's copper and sterling silver. It's been almost 6 years and the copper is wearing out, leaving behind sharp silver edges. So we probably need new rings.

Don't know if we'll buy or make the replacements, but leaving out the pure evil is a fantastic idea.

1:55 AM  

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