| Tempo: Second Guessing |

A Tale of Two Weddings

My boss’s simchah — or my best friend’s?


he wail is indignant and loud and very, very self-righteous. Smiling to myself, I head for the stairs and then pause in the foyer.

My rubber tree is looking sad. Very sad. When was the last time we watered it? Moishy is supposed to do it every other week, but lately he’s been too wrapped up in seventh grade Friday hockey to remember.

Another wail breaks through my inspection. I give the tree a sad pat and then fly up the stairs to my very annoyed granddaughter.

Why is there nothing cuter than a toddler waking from a nap? She glares at me, chubby cheeks flushed, stocky little legs leaning against the bars of the crib.

“You,” I say, scooping Ricky up, “are a mush. A giant mushy mush.”

Not my most poetic, but hey, it’s accurate. I can hear the echo of my phone ringing downstairs in the kitchen. Oh well, I’ll call whoever it is back. I’m too busy grandma-ing to the cutest kid in the world. Ricky has apparently forgiven my delayed reaction and is now keeping up a steady stream of chatter, cupping my face in her warm little hands.

“Mhhhhm,” I say, settling her into her highchair and pulling the plate of grapes I’d cut up for her out of the fridge.

“Drapes!” she says, clapping. I love how easy it is to make her happy. Why wasn’t it this fun when my own kids were little?

My phone rings again. Yaeli.

“Heeeeey, how’s the shopping going? Are you plotzing?”

“Yes,” she says tiredly. “But from exhaustion, not nachas. I’m just telling her to order sheitels from AliExpress and call it a day.”

I snort. “Oh, that’ll go over great with Dini.”

Yaeli wails, sounding remarkably like Ricky did earlier.

“You should have had boys first, like me,” I say smugly.

Now she snorts. “Oh, because your wedding was so low-key?”

She has a point. Tuvia’s wedding had been an event. What can I say, I do things big.

“Anyway, Shif, gotta run. Dini is trying on wig number 348. Send help!”

Shaking my head, I stick my tongue out at Ricky. “We don’t need new wigs, right Rick? Just ‘drapes’ and we’re happy.”

“Drapes,” she says again, nodding.

I pass her a sippy cup and click into my work emails. Thank you email, thank you email, baruch Hashem, a new order came in for the Neshei Melaveh Malkah. But oh, the Carp/Mermelstein engagement order has been canceled, nebach.  You wouldn’t think that as a simchah baker, you’d be privy to the hock in town, but like sheitelmachers, we seem to be everyone’s therapists. I feel bad to say it, but I didn’t think that shidduch was going to last.

Devorah, my boss, has emailed me, but it doesn’t look business related. Ever since Devorah Sheiner of Devo Delicacies, the town’s go-to for simchah baking, posted that she’s looking for an assistant baker six years ago, my stay-at-home mom life got a lot busier and a whole lot sweeter. Literally. It’s not without its stress, the mashgiach randomly coming in to check on things, the cakes that don’t come out perfect, the last minute orders as if people didn’t realize they were making a simchah, but I love what I do, and I love being able to work whenever I want to, as long as I get the orders in on time. And of course, now that I babysit Ricky since Ella went back to nursing school, I appreciate my job even more.

I click on Devorah’s email.


Awwwww, Devorah’s only child, Eliyahu, is getting married on the 4th July in Baltimore. It’ll be a shlep, but it’s a huge, huge simchah, and I’m so excited for her. I make a mental note to tell Ella about it — she’ll have to figure out alternate babysitting arrangements.

Trust her to send out Save the Dates. It’s one of those things that makes her so good at what she does. Devorah is organized to a fault, has her boundaries in place. She’s very firm about the things she does and doesn’t do in her business, and it’s something I really respect in her.

Yaeli messages me. Is it too late to put her up for adoption?

I crack up and send back a hurried emoji because Ricky lets out a very loud, “Wan OUT!”

I deposit her in the playroom with foam blocks, lock the gate, and head to the kitchen to start the cake pops.

Then I turn to dinner. Ari had requested my lemon chicken on his way out to the office, which, I’m sorry, is sooo weird: Who thinks about chicken first thing in the morning? I have to admit that I was flattered, though, and I have the chicken defrosting on the counter.

Before I know it, Moishy comes in, holding a cage. Shoots, I’d forgotten it was our day to host Barry, the class hamster. Perks of being the youngest; his older siblings are constantly reminding me that I would never have allowed them to bring an animal into the house. I still think it’s gross, for the record. But it’s such a good outlet for him.

“Hey Moish, hey Barry,” I say cheerily. And the acting award goes to….

“Ma! I left Barry’s wheel in school, can we make him one?”

I look around the kitchen. The cakes are cooling, the lemon chicken is in the wok, and when I peek into the playroom, Ricky is lying on her back singing to herself. I literally might eat her.

“Okay, sure,” I say, trying to keep the exhaustion out of my voice. Outlet, remember. We head to the playroom. I stop at the rubber tree.

“Moish, did you forget to water the tree?”

He looks confused. “No, I always do.”

I purse my lips. He seems to be telling the truth. “I know. I appreciate it.”

My phone rings. I set Moish up with scissors and a Styrofoam coffee cup to cut up and pick up.

“Yals, don’t tell me you’re still shopping.”

She sounds even more tired than before. “I’m canceling the whole bash and just making a barbecue to accompany the fireworks. Bring your own marshmallows. Everyone will dance, there’ll be guitar, and Dini can wear a ponytail.”

I crack up. “Oh, okay. Should I bake brownies?”

“That would be great. Nothing too fancy, no Devo Delicacies.”

“Oy, Yaeli, it’s that stressful?”

She whimpers. “Baruch Hashem for good things, but I can’t feel my feet. I’m done. Gone. Finito.”

I make sympathetic noises, but something she said is niggling at me. “Hold on a sec… fireworks?”

“4th of July, honey. Fireworks are traditional. And it’s what people really want, anyway. No one wants carving stations and black tie, they want hot dogs and marshmallows, right?”

Oh no. Oh no no noooooooo.

“Gonna call you back,” I choke out.

Both Yaeli and Devorah’s weddings are on the 4th of July? How did I not know this? It’s two months away, granted, but why was I not paying attention? Not that anyone would have changed their date for me, but still. I could have said something off the bat to one of them.

Oh, this is bad. This is very, very bad.

Of course, that’s when the chicken timer goes off, Moish cuts his finger, Tuvia and Ella come to pick up Ricky, and Ari comes in ravenous.

I’m everything to everybody, but all I can think is, Oh, no oh no oh nooooooooooooo.

Ari doesn’t see the dilemma. “Yaeli has been your best friend since you were six years old,” he says as he helps me wash up.

Men. Like it’s that simple.

I drop the order off at Devorah later that night. She’s glowing and invites me in for a glass of passion fruit iced tea. Not going to say no to that. I perch on a bar stool and show her pictures of Ricky. I used to be hesitant to share my nachas with her, when Eliyahu was off at yeshivah, but now that he’s about to start his own home, I feel like I can let go.

We ooh and aah over her golden curls, and it feels good. Like there’s always been this little corner of my personal life that I kept separate from her, and now the walls are coming down. When we first met, Eliyahu had just gone away for yeshivah, and Devorah had expanded her business, kept herself busy. She’d been aloof, and I’d learned quickly not to share stories and antics about my kids. But today, it all feels different,

We move into shop talk, pick up our ongoing conversation on whether we should branch out into log cakes. I’ve never tried them before, but Devorah’s convinced it’s what people want.

“Okay,” I concede, “I’ll try figuring it out. Give me a week.”

She makes a “yeah right” face, and I laugh. When I get an itch to do something, I do it that same day. Patience is not exactly one of my virtues.

“Fine,” I say, laughing, “Check in tomorrow.”

I stand up, stretch, and head to the door. She walks me out and then in a total uncharacteristic display of affection, my cool, stoic boss leans in and gives me a warm hug. “Thanks for always being there, Shif. Can’t wait to dance at the wedding.” Then she closes the door before I can say anything else. Oh. Wow. Well, then.

Uh, heeeeeellllllp.

Ari still doesn’t get it. “Yaeli has been your best friend for 35 years. Devorah has been your boss for six.”

“Stop throwing numbers at me,” I snap. “I know exactly how long each one has been in my life, it’s not exactly a quantifiable situation.”

He’s quiet; I feel bad.

“I’m just torn,” I say. “This is Devorah’s only kid, and the wedding’s out of town. She’s my boss, but we’re also friends, and she doesn’t have a huge friend group. I know how important each invited guest is to her.

He nods and heads down to learn. I guess he knows this is not the last time I’m going to bring this up in the next two months.

Later, after I’ve finished cleaning up the kitchen, I sit at my computer and google wilted rubber tree, to the background sound of squeaking coming from Moish’s room.

“I need neem oil,” I say aloud to Ari at the dining room table.

He looks up. “Eh?”

I sigh. “Everything will be better with neem oil.”

“Sure,” he says, and goes back to his learning.

I click on Devorah’s email again.


I look at my phone, blowing up with messages from Yaeli.

Shif, I quit.

I’m moving to Mexico.

Wanna get ice cream? Forget it, I need to fit into my gown.

Wait, help, let’s get ice cream.


Ari’s right. I know he is. It’s not even really a question, except that it is. Yaeli has eight children, kein ayin hara, there’ll be more weddings. Devorah only has Eliyahu. I work with Devorah every day. She’s my boss, she’s my friend. But Yaeli is like my sister.

Why? Why’d they both have to be on the 4th of July?

Why can’t they both be in town?

Why can’t neem oil fix everything for me, too?

The wedding is absolutely gorgeous, with nary a ponytail or marshmallow in sight. Yaeli looks like she’s 20, and we dance up a storm. There’s nowhere I’d rather be, but when Devorah texts me a “it’s not the same without you” selfie of her gorgeous gown, I can’t help the sadness that forms in the pit of my stomach.


Contribute to this column as a Second Guesser! Email your response, including your name as you want it to appear, to familyfirst@mishpacha.com with Second Guessing in the subject.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 895)

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