Judy Gold can go
from zero to 140 decibels in less time than it takes to
jerk a phone away from your ear. Here's how I found
out. Judy is walking into her New York City apartment
after being away for several days, describing her
collaboration with Kate Moira Ryan, coauthor of her new
book: "Kate came at it from a very historical angle,
and it was so interesting to have someone else look at
my life through their own perspective because My
fucking cat just fucking...oh, my God, I
fucking hate him! The fucking garbage pail is on the floor
with fucking chewed-up Q-tips all over the place.
way she was raised. Her mother routinely leaves her
hysterical phone messages--"Why
haven't you called in 10 minutes? Are you
dead?"--always signing off with a nonchalant
"So long." In her book Gold chronicles
these inherited irrational neuroses, along with some nuggets
of Judaic wisdom and stories from more than 50 other Jewish
mothers, many culled from her hit off-Broadway show of
the same name.
Why are the Jews so funny?
For me it was a coping mechanism. I was a
six-foot-tall gay 13-year-old. And humor is how we
communicated in my family. We couldn't talk about
anything substantive, but we could tell a joke.
As you get older, do you see yourself becoming more like
Oh, great, I'm going to kill myself after
this interview. Absolutely. I've picked up a
lot of her habits. The other day I said to Henry [in
wounded yenta voice], "I hope you treat your
friends and teachers better than you treat me."
I thought, Oh, my God. I'm Ruth Gold Jr.
You and your ex, Wendy, share custody.
Yeah, and we live in the same building.
So they can just go down to her place whenever they want?
Well, there are boundaries. It's about
half the time at my place and half at hers.
It's just so much easier, especially when you forgot
the soccer shirt at her place and you don't
have to get in a cab and go across to town to get it.
Raised with two Jewish mothers, do your kids have twice
Well, Wendy's only half Jewish, so we
lucked out there. But we parent so differently.
She's the disciplinarian, the drill sergeant.
I'm more like, "Oh, you peed all over
the floor? OK. I'll scream, but you're not
going to get in trouble."
Speaking of guilt, you've been to a lot of therapy.
Yeah, and now I'm dating a therapist.
Henry said to Wendy, "Isn't it great
that Mommy's dating a therapist? Now she can have
therapy whenever she wants it."
I've been reading about these young Orthodox Jews
coming out of the closet and not giving up on
their faith. Pretty amazing.
I know. But I understand that. See,
here's what I think: People always say,
"You're gay, you're gay, you're
gay." That's not who I am. That's
part of who I am. It's how I think. It's a way
of life. And I think it's the same for every
religion. If you grew up Catholic or Protestant and
it's a positive thing in your life, you don't
want to give that up. And who's to say you
should have to?
I'm going to throw a few hypothetical traumatic
scenarios at you, and you tell me the best Jewish
food to combat each with. Ready?
A really bad breakup.
I'm going with brisket.
Bagels, lox, whitefish, and herring.
Mom is coming to visit for a week.
Chicken soup with arsenic in it.
Death in the family.
Oh, that is so deli. That's turkey,
pastrami, corned beef, coleslaw, and Dr.
Brown's black cherry soda.
You sound so sure of that one, like it's in the Torah.
It is. When I think of death, I think of corned
beef and potato salad.