Written to help her Gentile husband and others like him who fall for believing a Jewish mother-in-law when she says, “Don’t bother driving me, I will take a cab,” Jewish as a Second Language shows how to be one of the vital family―how to worry, how to interrupt, how to change your hotel room. It is not Yiddish. Though non-Jews can endear themselves by learning how to mis-use words like schmendrick and schmatta―providing both laughs and confirmation of Jewish superiority―this Jewish language is about the complex twists and somersaults of on a regular basis speech, of unexpected nuances, hidden meanings, and swampy thickets of behavior, of wins, losses, and draws in competitions you never knew you entered. It’s about the most typical OAQs (obsessive anal questions): “This mole looks okay, doesn’t it?” “Can Saltines go bad?” “They will de-ice the wings before takeoff, right?” The Four Basic Shrugs. Acronyms never to use again: NASCAR, STD, and MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, the potentially deadly skin virus that’s spread by contact, and also by talking about it casually). The things non-Jews do for fun and what Jews do: Contra dance/Contradict, Read the comics/Read the obituaries, Get your boobs done/Get your taxes done. Stuff never found in a Jewish home (trout flies, a lineoleum knife, a Lay-Z-Boy, a rottweiler) or mouth (Miracle Whip, marshmallow fluff, Bud).
So you can sit down, you can read, you can laugh until you’re nauseous. It is a nice book.