Sunday, May 13, 2007

One Word or Two?

Part one in what may be a multi-part series of my reflections on being frum in a secular college, as I prepare to graduate.

Due to the subject matter, this post is a little less clean than what normally appears on this blog, so be forewarned.)

As a freshman copy editor at my school newspaper, I was editing one night when The Paula Zahn Show came to film a segment related to the paper's new sex column. The editor-in-chief, who probably didn’t even know I existed, decided that he would show the cameraman the entire process an article goes through—from writer to copy editor to print. So, the large, imposing editor-in-chief (in retrospect I know that he was neither large nor imposing, but I was a freshman and he was the editor-in-chief) sauntered up to the copydesk and asked that one of the copy editors open the sex column. Slightly starstruck—by the editor-in-chief, not the Paula Zahn Show—I volunteered before I could reassess what was good for me.

“I’ll do it,” I said.

“OK,” said the editor-in-chief. “What’s your name again?” (And by “again,” he meant for the first time.)




“Well, OK, Ellie. Here’s the way it’s going to work. I want you to just open the sex column and edit it while this nice camera crew films and I’ll look over your shoulder and help you edit.”
So now the editor-in-chief who didn’t even know my name was going to help me edit an article. In front of a camera crew.

“OK,” I responded.

I took out the column and began to edit, acutely aware of the eyes over my shoulder. I made some small changes, continued to read, when the editor-in-chief uttered I’m pretty sure the only words he ever said to me after asking my name:

“Is blow job one word or two?”

“Two,” I answered quickly—I had already looked it up. I finished editing, closed the article. The camera crew went somewhere else, the eager editor-in-chief followed, and I left the office terrified that someone I knew—maybe my grandmother, she watches CNN—was going to see me being asked on camera whether blow job was one word or two. I’m a good little Orthodox Jewish girl from Long Island. I shouldn’t even have known what a blow job was, nonetheless how to spell it.

I was pretty sure walking home that night that it was time to switch to Stern. I had tried Columbia and maybe even loved it, but I had just been asked on film about sex. I had just edited a sex column. I knew whether blow job was one word or two. This was not the place for a nice Jewish girl.


At 5/14/07, 1:53 PM, Blogger Scraps said...

Oysh. That must have been a terribly uncomfortable moment.

Still, I learned what that was in my nice Jewish high school from another "nice Jewish girl", so while I too would have been totally mortified, I couldn't have blamed it on being on a secular college campus.


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