Mazel Tov!
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
In general, Chicagoans typically pride themselves on being "midwestern" nice - an open, warmhearted people, if you will (even if the source of that warmth is beer). While we are not nearly as jaded as New Yorkers, few things surprise us. International Man of Leather Convention? Snore. Crazy man who drives a pig mobile around the gold coast? BO-RING.

So you will have to understand that I was taken aback when I had a run-in with the Mitzvah Tank. Let's put it this way -- the incident went onto the long list of reasons why I need to invest in a camera phone. There is a family driving around my neighborhood in an RV with signs all over it saying "Mitzvah Tank," "Happy Chanukah," and various things that I couldn't translate from Hebrew to English. They had a PA system blaring Jewish holiday music, and there was a feisty young man riding shotgun who would randomly call out "HAPPY CHANUKAH EVERYBODY!" The first time he yelled, I simultaneously jumped out of my own skin and shit my pants. (It was a feat of physics known only to the members of Cirque du Soleil and people who are startled easily.)

I usually find religious fanaticism (in all its forms) entertaining, but I think all things have their limits. I saw the Mitzvah Tank 3 times in 15 minutes. THREE. ONE, TWO, THREE TIMES. Perhaps it would not have been quite so annoying if they weren't screaming at the top of their lungs on an RV loudspeaker - that's all I'm sayin'. The last time they drove past me, I waved and flashed a smile that plainly communicated, "I'm really happy that it's your holiday but can you stop screaming on that godforsaken loudspeaker?!" (Inside, I was laughing at my own, internal use of the word godforsaken - how ironic given the situation) If this was a sign that God really wanted me to become a Jew, couldn't he just send a divine message of conversion through my Jewish brother-in-law? Because that Mitzvah Tank business is just a menace to society.