I am my father's daughter. For my entire life, I've heard that Dad had a bad case of the shpilkes (sha-pil-kees), meaning "ants in his pants" or, if you like, ADD from hell. Now, I get it. My kids take forever eating their dinners and I can't stay at the table waiting for their forks to set down. My eyes scan the computer or cell phone or both every few minutes, hoping for entertaining news. Skip the previews and get to the movie already!
All of this is to say, I did it again. More than halfway through Lit I have grown impatient (she's about to land in the loony bin and start praying), so I picked up Shalom Auslander's book and have read the first two chapters (or essays). Pathetic. Not Auslander who is warped. Me. Oddly, I stayed committed to Liz Gilbert's Committed. What does that say?
The second essay in Auslander's book, The Foreskin's Lament (best title ever), is an essay I have heard on This American Life at least two times. Auslander reads it in a dry, deadpan manner, off-setting the child abuse, alcoholism, and crazy prayer/sin cycle on which his eight-year-old self embarks. Hoping that the sins of the child will kill his horrible father, Auslander finds himself simultaneously practicing for a prayer competition (at his Orthodox Jewish day school) and touching himself while swearing "shit," "fuck," "ass," "bitch." It's hilarious and sad.
Why am I drawn to so many memoirs based on abusive childhoods? The worst I suffered was a bad case of the shpilkes.