Variations on a Theme: Who knew that Purim could be so complicated?

As told to Chaya Gross

My life will forever be divided into PBT and PAT: Purim before themes, and Purim after themes. When I was a bachur, Purim was the highlight of my year. Wine, costumes, dancing and singing, lots of food—life couldn’t get any better. Then I got married and my life changed forever.

It was a month before Purim, three months into our marriage, when my wife casually mentioned that we should start thinking about a theme for Purim.

“A theme?” I asked blankly.

“Exactly,” she replied.

“What’s a theme?” I asked.

She gave me a look. “You know, the theme we’re having for Purim.”

Her explanation baffled me, but not wanting to sound ignorant, I smiled brightly at my new wife. “Of course. A theme.”

“So,” she said, “I was thinking that we should do something like pairs because we just got married. What do you think?”

What did I think about pairs? I had no idea what to think. What did pairs have in common with themes, and what on earth did they have in common with Purim?
I had to find a way to extract myself from this conversation fast. “Pairs sound amazing,” I gushed. “You always have the best ideas. Whatever you do will be great. You really don’t need to involve me.”

My wife glowed with pride, and I patted myself on the back for having gotten myself out of it brilliantly. That is, until a week before Purim, when I came home to find my wife surrounded by a supply of oak tag.

“What’s going on?” I asked curiously.

“I finally figured out the whole thing,” she said enthusiastically, waving a piece of oak tag cut in the shape of a puzzle piece. “We’re going to be puzzle pieces. How cute is that?”

Everything suddenly came together in a lightbulb moment, and I nearly choked. So this was what a theme was!

There was no way I was going to walk around on Purim with a piece of oak tag shaped like a puzzle piece around my neck. I had never been a puzzle piece before, nor did I intend ever to be one. No one had even mentioned that getting married involved impersonating a jigsaw puzzle. Things got progressively worse from that point. The puzzle piece came with a matching puzzle hat that read “The Perfect Match.” My wife stayed up nights baking puzzle-shaped cookies while we ate bologna sandwiches for supper for two straight weeks. During the day I walked around hungry, and at night I woke up in a cold sweat after nightmares about giant puzzles.

Then we went to have our picture taken in our puzzle costumes. I posed for an hour until the perfect shot was obtained, all the while praying that no one would walk in and see me. But it wasn’t as if they wouldn’t see me anyway. My wife had the picture printed on two dozen puzzles, and each recipient of our mishloach manos would receive one as a gift. We stayed up half the night before Purim cutting the labels into a puzzle shape.
On Purim day, I had to stand to my wife’s right at all times because otherwise the puzzle pieces didn’t fit. I endured great embarrassment and many awkward moments as I attempted to dance, trying hard not to puncture the next person with my costume.


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