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Deborah Copaken Kogan Headshot

Battle Hymn of the Gefilte Fish Wife

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A lot of people wonder how Jewish wives manage to raise such spineless husbands. They wonder what these wives do to produce so many slightly pudgy lawyers and milquetoast dentists, what's it like inside the marriage, and whether they could do it, too. Well, I can tell them, because I've done it. Here are some things my husband, Melvin, was never allowed to do:

· play poker

· play an instrument

· have any friends other than the husbands of my friends, with the exception of Harold Kramer, whom none of us can stand.

· watch the Jets game, pre-TiVo, when A Walk on the Moon was on, but even today I'd probably win that one, too.

· chew with his mouth open

· complain about that withering look I give him when he chews with his mouth open

· buy any article of clothing without my approval

· underwear included

· allow his nose hairs to go ungroomed for more than a week

· okay, two weeks tops, but more than that he starts to look like a gorilla

· bring home any paycheck less than what that schlemiel, my sister's husband, earns

· "find himself"

· say, "Watch out, kids, it's that time of the month," without serious repercussions.

I'm using the term "Jewish wife" loosely. I recently met a super-controlling dictator from Iran (you've seen him on television), and after comparing notes we decided that we were so alike it was bashert I happened to bump into him while I was searching for an analogy, and he was taking surveillance photos in Times Square.

Despite our squeamishness about cultural stereotypes, there are tons of studies out there showing marked and quantifiable differences between Jews and Shiksas when it comes to husband management. In one study of 50 Shiksa wives and 48 Jewish wives, almost 90% of the Shiksa wives said either that "performing fellatio as a means of enforcing garbage duty compliance is kind of manipulative" or that "poet is a perfectly acceptable career for a man." By contrast, roughly 0% of the Jewish wives felt the same way.

I was born in the Year of the Gefilte Fish.

Just kidding! Why can't anyone tell I'm kidding? Gefilte fish isn't even an animal.

I had my 389th face-off with Melvin when he was about 47. It was a freezing winter afternoon in Scarsdale, NY, one of the coldest days of the year. The kids were off getting stoned at their friend Thatcher Greenstein's, who's kidding no one with that first name. I decided that it would be a perfect time for me to introduce Melvin to Swiss chard. A small request, but Melvin refused, saying it tasted like shit.

So I hung him by the ankles out the kitchen window.

Then I accidentally dropped him.


Now who's going to take out the trash?