Milchidika with Marty (Stransky) ...

                                                               January 2018

                                CAN YOU KE BECH I IN NORTH KOREA?


        If you were a dinner guest at the home of Kim Jong un, would you dare to complain that the Kim-chi was too spicy? I doubt it. Complaining, or really, really complaining is called "ke bech i" in Korean, which is their version of what we know as "kvetching." But if you want to kvetch, you must be living in freedom. Slaves can't kvetch. At least not openly.


        And kvetching is more than just complaining. It is to grumble, complain, and belly ache at length. It's always annoying and no one really wants to listen to it.


        Since freedom is the first requirement, it's hard to believe that the oarsman on a Roman galley, who is chained to his seat, could complain to the ship master. "Boy, does it stink down there. Nobody uses a deodorant. And the toilets stopped flushing. Can't you do something about it?"


        Or, the poor Israelite, in the days of the pharaohs, while schlepping large stones in the building of the pyramids, could complain to the task master, "Why do you have to build these things so tall? Can't you just make them wider instead?"


        There are certain rules about kvetching. So, if you are going to complain, you must consider the other persons feelings. If you're visiting someone in the hospital who has just undergone some type of surgery, and is lying in the hospital bed recuperating, and giving you all the gory details of the operation; you're not supposed to say, "Yeah, but mine was worse."


        Therefore the "Ring Theory of Kvetching" has been invented. It is a method on how not to say the wrong thing when listening to someone who may be having a financial, medical, legal, romantic, or any other kind of problem. The idea is not to say, "So, you think you have a problem? You should hear what happened to me."


        This is how it works. Draw a circle. This is the center ring. In it, put the name of the person at the center who has just had the operation. So, we'll put "Martin" in that circle. Now draw a larger circle around the first one. In that circle put the name of the person closest to the trauma, such as their spouse or child. In my example. we'll put my wife's name, "Isabelle. Now we'll draw another circle and put in the name of a child or close friend. This time our daughter, "Judy."


        When you have finished, you now have a "kvetching" order. Martin can complain about his medical problem to Isabelle; he can moan and curse the heavens and say, "Life is unfair" and "why me?" That's the one advantage of being in the center ring. Everyone must listen to Martin.


        Isabelle can't complain back to Martin about the medical problem that she once had. Isabelle can only complain to the next circle or to our daughter Judy. If you make the circle larger, to include friends, then Judy could complain to one of the friends, etc. etc. You can only complain to whoever is in the next outer ring to you, but you can never complain to anyone in an inner ring. Sounds reasonable.


        Now a kvetching joke:


        Morris gets a new dog and can't wait to show him off to his friend Bernie. So, he invites Bernie to his house to see his dog. When Bernie arrives, Morris calls the dog into the house, bragging how smart he is. The dog quickly comes running in and stands looking at his master, tail wagging furiously, mouth open, tongue hanging out, eyes bright with anticipation.


        Morris points to the newspaper on the couch and commands, "FETCH!"


        Immediately the dog climbs onto the couch and sits down. His tail-wagging stops and the doggie smile disappears.


        Looking balefully up at the master, the dog says in a whiny voice, "You think this is easy wagging my tail all the time? Oy vay. It hurts from so much wagging. And do you think the expensive organic dog food that you are feeding me is tasty? You try it. It's dreck. Much too salty. And you just don't seem to care about me anymore. You just push me out the door to take a leak three times a day. I can't remember the last time you took me out for a walk."


        Bernie is amazed. "What was that? Your dog is sitting there talking."


        "Oh, I know," explains Morris. "He's young and I'm still training him. He thought I said KVETCH!"