Chutzpah is a Yiddish word meaning shameless audacity, titanic effrontery, sheer guts plus arrogance, gigantic gall, and colossal nerve.
Chutzpah is being angry at me for declining an invitation to your son’s wedding. If it was a regular wedding at Temple Beth Shalom in Smithtown, I’d gladly be there with a generous check for the happy couple. However, it is not. The daughter-in-law to be has always had her heart set on a romantic wedding in the Caribbean. The price of two economy super-saver round-trip tickets from JFK to Aruba is $1076. The hotel for two nights is $500. Incidentals such as taxis, breakfast, lunch, and tips are another 200 bucks. Add in the wedding gift and, according to my calculations, my attendance there will top two grand. And the hosts are upset that many friends have declined their kind invitation. I call that chutzpah. What’s your thinking?
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I love fast food. One of my very favorite lunches consists of six White Castles, large fries, and a giant Coke. I look around at the crowds and I’m not the only one. There’s a New York stock broker who feels the same way but, because of his 290 pound frame, he has problems sitting in those cramped booths. He claims that he is always bumping his knees into the tables. If this was me I’d make the order to go and dine on this delectable, high quality, well-prepared gourmet meal in my car while listening to Rush Limbaugh. Not him. After complaining and writing to the management, Mr. Wall Street has taken the case to federal court. He is suing for bigger chairs and unspecified damages because he says the restaurant is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. He compares himself to the disabled? What do you call that? I call it chutzpah.
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Here’s another really big guy with chutzpah. He’s a convicted felon who weighs 400 pounds and is suing New York City because the jail he is in doesn’t stock the standard green jumpsuit in his size. He is claiming he has been “emotionally damage” because he has to wear a super-sized jumpsuit every day that makes him different from his fellow inmates.
Hey there, Goliath. If you didn’t do the crime you wouldn’t have to do the time dressed that way. Man, is that chutzpah. But, then again, we are living in crazy times. The right lawyer will get the judge to award him a few grand. Chutzpah indeed.
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Then there’s the judge in Nevada that presided over a murder trial that ended very late at night. After 13 hours in the jury box she demanded that the jury begin deliberations at once. This “at once” was 3 am because — drum roll please — her honor had plans to go on vacation the next day. That is a judge with chutzpah.
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Everybody knows that Costa cruise line will have to do many things and spend a lot of money to make up for the recent tragedy in Italy, but to offer a 30 percent discount on its next cruise to the survivors of the ordeal so soon after the tragedy? Just one word for that: chutzpah.
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There’s a man in Maine who drove into a light pole in a Walmart parking lot. He is suing for the $3,000 in damages to his pickup truck because he hit a “free-standing light pole.” Huh? Aren’t all light poles free-standing? I think this guy has — all together now — chutzpah!
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I know that there are all kinds of Chutzpah and other named awards making the rounds via the Internet. Before you write to tell me about them, you might want to check with Snopes.com to make sure they are genuine. I am StanGershbein@Bellsouth.net swearing with one hand on the bible and the other raised in the air that the above examples are, to the very best of my knowledge, accurate and authentic.Stanley Gershbein's column appears every Monday on BrooklynDaily.com.
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