It was only after I got home from the boutique, still fuming, that it hit me: What was I going to tell Shevy?
The thought festered in the back of my brain while I grilled chicken for supper. The kids were making a ruckus, and I was trying to figure out what Dina would eat while listening to five stories at once.
“When are we going for gowns?” Rikki asked loudly.
“We’re eating supper now,” I snapped.
Rikki frowned. I felt awful. I opened the fridge and poured her a cup of Sprite. “Here, sheifelah,” I said. “Because you did so well on your Chumash test.”
She took it, cagily.
I turned back to the grill pan and flipped the chicken. Oil splattered on my sweater. Ugh, why hadn’t I changed, or put on an apron? I knew I should pretreat it immediately if I didn’t want the stain to set in, but it was late; we were scheduled to view a potential apartment for Shevy in 45 minutes.
I barely managed to grab a bite and change into a clean sweater before rushing out to the car with Shevy.
But we hadn’t needed to rush. The broker called as we pulled up in front of the house, full of apologies about being delayed in traffic. We stood at the entrance, examining the house’s façade.
“He said it’s the front apartment on the second floor, right?” Shevy asked. “So look, it’s got a porch!”
“Shevy,” I said.
“The thing you told me today… you know, about Yocheved’s marketing idea…?”
“Right, what about it?”
I pulled my jacket sleeves over my fingers. I hadn’t had a chance to discuss this whole situation with Shlomo yet. Was I being rash? Something told me he’d be relieved, that he hadn’t been too excited about Yocheved’s gown gift from the first minute.
“Hmm?” Shevy murmured. She was staring at the building dreamily, that kallah-gleam in her eyes. Probably picturing herself sitting on the front porch with Gavriel, enjoying fruit shakes on a summer night.
I swallowed. “So I’m sure you realize that we… can’t do this, right?”
“Uh, whatever. Okay, fine, so I’ll tell her no.”
“No, you don’t get it.”
“I’m talking about the gown,” I said gently. “This whole situation, it’s just… Look, Shevy, it’s wrong. It’s my mistake, I should’ve considered this from the start. I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but we can’t get a Lewin gown.”
Shevy’s eyes widened. “What? B-but, but why not?”
My heart contracted. If only I’d never told her about this dreadful gift.
“Because it goes against all our values. We live a simple lifestyle, Tatty’s in klei kodesh. What kind of statement would it make if our own daughter wears such an expensive gown?”
“But everyone knows Yocheved is your sister! And that you work for her! I don’t think it would make such a statement.”
“I’m afraid it will. And also…” I bit my lip. “Also, davka us, with Tatty on the takanos board and everything. People view us as role models. You understand, right?”
(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 666)