My father’s droll advice one evening at dinner

When I was eleven I came back from the first day of Hebrew School and told my family that my new teacher was an Israeli woman named Miss Lipschitz. My family found her name as funny as I had. These unexpected moments of levity always came as a welcome relief from our ongoing wars at the dinner table. We all loved to laugh.

My father regarded me with a merry look for a second and said:

“Tell her, ‘if you’re lip shits, my ass chews gum.'”

This off-color deadpanned one-liner drew howls from my sister and me. My mother, though not managing to completely hide her amusement, made a show of reprimanding him for being such a bad example to his children.

If I’d repeated his crude army gag at Hebrew School (these off-color bits would usually be prefaced with ” a guy in the army would say…”), and got in trouble, of course, it would have been completely my problem, another illustration of my lack of common sense, in spite of my high intelligence. Both of my parents would have been on me without any mercy or sense of irony.

Which is funny too, in a way, looking back on it now.

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