Shunned // It was painful to always be excluded

as told to Masha Farber

I was in high spirits as I followed my husband into the upscale restaurant. It was his birthday, and we were planning on celebrating it in style.

“What should we order?” he asked as we perused the menu.

“I don’t even know what these dishes are,” I said. “I wouldn’t know the difference between coq au vin and a plateful of spaghetti. And what in the world is fricassée de poulet?”

“Haven’t the foggiest idea. But it sounds dangerous to me.”

After the waiter finally un-perplexed us we made our selections and I stood up to wash.
As I was making my way to the back I looked around. It was a popular restaurant, and all of the tables were full. Then suddenly I stopped short. At one of the tables I noticed a familiar-looking blond sheitel. It was my sister-in-law, my husband’s sister. And she wasn’t alone. Every single one of my husband’s sisters was sitting around the table, looking as if she was having a grand old time. I was the only member of the family who wasn’t there. My heart gave a slight squeeze.

I wanted to avoid them but it was too late. I’d already been spotted.

“Oh, hi!” Shaina, the oldest sister, called out with a wave.

Suddenly there was an uncomfortable silence as the conversation paused mid-sentence.
“Funny meeting you here,” she said with an awkward laugh. “I mean, what are the odds?”
“It was like a totally spontaneous get-together,” another sister-in-law quickly added. “So what brings you here?”

Spontaneous? Yeah right. The seats in this restaurant have to be reserved at least a day in advance.

“It’s your brother’s birthday,” I replied. There were funny looks going around the table. Too uncomfortable to hang around, I wished everyone a good evening and then quickly went to wash.

My husband was greeted by a very different wife when I came back to the table.

“Is everything okay?” he asked.

“Why,” I asked after I’d swallowed my first bite of bread, “don’t your sisters like me?”

“Of course they do,” he reassured me. “What makes you think otherwise?”

“Because no one bothered to pick up a phone to invite me to their so-called spontaneous get-together.”

“What are you talking about?” he asked, looking confused.

“All of your sisters are currently across the room enjoying a ladies’ night out and having a blast. It apparently never occurred to them that as a sister-in-law I’m part of the family, and should have also been invited.”

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