Not toochis!

My good friend L. sent me the following email, knowing I would be aghast at the schnuhutzles of Americans, in allowing a vital part of our lingo to fall by the roadside. Both she and I are aficionadae of the well-timed Yiddishism– people are so surprised, hearing it uttered by someone so obviously of Scots-Irish extraction. I felt compelled to share:

NEW YORK-Saying he could no longer stand idly by while a vital part of
American culture is lost forever, activist and Broadway producer Mel
Brooks has founded a private nonprofit organization dedicated to
preserving the word “schmuck.”

An emotional Brooks stopped short of kvetching at a schmuck fundraiser
Monday.

“Schmuck is dying,” a sober Brooks said during a 2,000-person rally held
in his hometown of Williamsburg, Brooklyn Monday. “For many of us,
saying ‘schmuck’ is a way of life. Yet when I walk down the street and
see people behaving in foolish, pathetic, or otherwise schmucky ways, I
hear only the words ‘prick’ and ‘douche bag.’ I just shake my head and
think, ‘I don’t want to live in a world like this.'”

The nonprofit, Schmucks For Schmuck, has compiled schmuck-related data
from the past 80 years and conducted its own independent research on
contemporary “schmuck” usage. According to Brooks, the statistics are
frightening: Utterances of the word “schmuck” have declined every year
since its peak in 1951, and in 2006, the word was spoken a mere 28
times-17 of these times by Brooks himself. The study indicates that
today, when faced with a situation in which one can use a targeted or
self-deprecating insult to convey a general feeling of disgust, people
are 50 times more likely to use the word “jerk” than “schmuck,” 100
times more likely to use “dick,” and 15,000 times more likely to use
“fucking asshole.”

Perhaps more startling, only 23 percent of men know what schmuck means,
and only 1.2 percent of these men are under the age of 78. If such
trends continue, Brooks estimates that by 2011, such lesser-used terms
as “imbecile,” “dummy,” “schlub,” and “contemptible ne’er-do-well” will
all surpass schmuck, which is projected to completely disappear by the
year 2020 or whenever Brooks dies.

“We must save this word!” Brooks said to thunderous applause as those in
attendance began chanting “Schmuck! Schmuck! Schmuck!” “How will we be
able to charmingly describe someone who acts in an inappropriate
manner? Especially given the tragic loss of the word ‘schmegeggie’ in
2001. So I urge you: Tonight, when you get home, please, call up your
family, your friends, your loved ones, and tell them they’re a bunch of
schmucks.”

Hundreds turned out at a Boca Raton, FL demonstration to show their
support for the dying word.

“I’ve never told anyone this before,” Brooks added, choking back tears,
“but my father was a schmuck.”

The foundation has already raised more than $20 million, thanks to
donations from supporters such as Jackie Mason, Albert Brooks, the
Schtupp Institute, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), and the Henny Youngman
Endowment for the Preservation of Schmekel. The money will go toward
projects aimed at reintegrating “schmuck” into the English lexicon,
including billboards and flyers plastered with the word “schmuck,” the
upcoming 5K Schlep for Schmuck Awareness, and a new Mel Brooks film.

“The world cannot afford to lose this valuable and versatile word,”
Brooks told reporters during a charity auction in Manhattan’s Upper
West Side Tuesday, where attendees bid for the chance to have a private
lunch with Brooks and repeatedly call him a schmuck. “You can be a poor
schmuck, a lazy schmuck, a dumb schmuck, or just a plain old schmuck. A
group of people can be collectively referred to as schmucks. You can
call someone a schmuck, and you can be called a schmuck. You can even
call yourself a schmuck.”

“Plus, it’s just so fun to say,” Brooks added. “Schmuck.”

Many of the foundation’s volunteers say they share Brooks’ passion for
the word “schmuck,” as well as his outrage that it is slowly
disappearing from everyday use. They claim that if they do not act now,
the trend could create a snowball effect.

“Today it’s schmuck, tomorrow it might be toochis,” said SFS volunteer
Harry Steinbergmann, 82. “What’s next, schlemiel? Putz? Schlimazel?”
Steinbergmann went on to classify this scenario as farcockteh.

Brooks will be appearing at Brooklyn’s Francis Scott Key Junior High on
Nov. 12 to give an informal lecture about his experiences using the word
“schmuck,” and build grassroots support among a key group of young
Americans by explaining that “schmuck” is a Yiddish term for the
foreskin on the head of a penis. In addition, he has hinted at the
possibility of a reunion with longtime comedy partner Gene Wilder,
during which the two will call each other schmucks.

As much as I love “schmuck,” I will admit that “douchebag” is my favorite way to get someone’s attention when I want them to knock something off. I called my boss a douchebag once during a meeting of our working group, when he was being a particularly obtuse, well, douchebag, and it’s stuck as an affectionate name. (Yeah, I don’t know why I haven’t been fired yet, either. But, I was right to call him a dbag.) But toochis? I can’t stomach the thought of being the last user of toochis, as in “Don’t let the door hit you in the toochis on the way out.” I’m positively pheklempt at the idea.

So, on shmuck, on shmeggeggie, on toochis, on putz! On schlemiel, on schlimazel, on farcockteh, you shmucks!

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10 thoughts on “Not toochis!

  1. Sarene

    Wow, I guess the stagehands strike is leaving Mel Brooks with WAY too much time on his hands, considering “Young Frankenstein” just opened on Broadway.I use shmuck ALL the time…okay, maybe not as much as “douchebag” or “fucking asshole,” but definitely more than “jerk.”Hi there…I’m a fellow “Wonderful Women of the Web” winner. Good friend of Marci. Hope you’ll stop by my blog sometime. Oh, and I’m a cook too 🙂

    Reply
  2. nyjlm

    one reason I wish my mom’s mom had gotten to meet my kids was b/c of Yiddish. She grew up in a home where that was the main language spoken by adults. She was always saying things in Yiddish to us “come here bubbeleh, let me rub your keppela” At our religious school we try to have Yiddish word of the week so the kids do get exposed to some, and of course I use the words I know (tho I wish I knew more!)

    Reply
  3. Powerfille (Get it?)

    I can see I missed out on a vital piece of cultural education growing up, though schmuck did find its way into my vocabulary and is still a personal favourite. I’m not big on the fucking asshole stuff, but I do enjoy occasionally ripping into someone with an impassioned jackass!

    Reply
  4. Cranky

    Considering I’m in the heart of Texas, a friends dad was visiting from Florida/Connecticut one time and I beleive I used the word “kvetching” in a sentence, and it absolutely stunned him that this southern girl knew any yiddish at all. I may not have grown up around it, but it’s just too much fun to stay away from.

    Reply
  5. Sara

    “…[P]eople are 50 times more likely to use the word ‘jerk’ than ‘schmuck,’ 100 times more likely to use ‘dick,’ and 15,000 times more likely to use ‘fucking asshole.'”You know what I think the problem is? “Schmuck” is dirtier than “jerk,” but sounds sweet, so when people find out what it means, they’re a little taken aback and uncertain. The other problem is that it’s not as malicious sounding as “dick” even though it means exactly the same thing, and it’s not nearly as angry sounding as “fucking asshole.” This leads me to believe that it’s all a matter of nuance and the state of rage and manners in America, and of the attendant shockingly declining number of people truly worthy of the appellation.Even the people who should care most about the loss and degradation of this word will not modify their behavior to suit the language. Case in point: even my very own Jewish father was not nearly as much a schmuck as he was a fucking asshole.Schmucks are losery dicks, often kindly and well-meaning, but clueless. Putzes, by contrast, are arrogant, nasty schmucks. Dicks are practically assholes. Assholes are hopeless, irredeemable. Fucking assholes are hopeless, irredeemable, and completely hated.This is how I perceive things, anyway. From where I sit, it looks as though there is going to have to be a great cultural shift away from assholishness and into schmuckery in everyday attitudes and behaviors before we will see a return to widespread use of the word “schmuck.”Thank you for bringing attention to this terrible social issue. Better behaved wretched, selfish, stupid, and cruel people will result in better words to describe them, but first they have to realize there’s a problem and just whose problem it is.

    Reply
  6. bipolarbear

    I am very fond of “farcockteh” as in, “It was a farcockteh mess.” I definitely use jackass way more than schmuck, but I’ll try my best to reevaluate.

    Reply

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