He loves the New York Giants. He sleeps in a Rangers jersey and plays ice hockey on Sunday nights with his buddies. Totally into classic cars. Likes scotch tasting.
The point is, David Frankel is a man’s man. His veins are coursing with testosterone.
So when David’s daughter Ahuva suggested that he dress up as Queen Esther for Purim, everyone thought it was an excellent idea.
“It will be a riot,” his son Daniel agreed.
“You will be the hit of the neighborhood,” his wife Geula concurred.
Why not? Purim was the classic time for dress up. The tradition of wearing costumes was part of the holiday. It symbolized how the events of Purim were a neis nistar, a hidden miracle. The whole story is one of miracles hidden within natural events.
And David was pretty sure his rabbi was o.k. with men dressing up in women’s clothes for this holiday. It might be frowned upon if he appeared in shul on Shavuot in a dress, but for Purim it was cool.
Ahuva had a friend named Shainde, and she was tall. Six feet, to be exact. Shainde was into the idea, and it just so happened that she had a full length gown that Ahuva thought would fit her dad quite well. Green sequins. Strapless (don’t worry; she wore it with a kiki riki).
Geula hired Malki Samuels to do David’s makeup. She had done a fabulous job for Tikva Pomerantz for her wedding. Everyone said she was the best, and David was going to need the best to pull this off.
The plan was to have him ready for the nighttime megilla reading. Their neighbor Danit Hershkowitz had volunteered an old sheitel. And she would throw in a tiara as well.
They started an hour before the scheduled davening time. They sat David in the kitchen, and Malki worked for quite some time. Cover up. Lots of cover up. Blush. Mascara. Eye liner. Even more cover up.
The gown fit him like a glove. Last was the sheitel. Geula had been styling it all afternoon. It was close to David’s natural hair color, so it didn’t require a lot of tucking .The tiara actually fit him nicely and complemented the dress.
Shainde’s heels also fit David. She clearly had big feet.
When all was ready, David stood and walked out into the living room for all to see. He had some trouble with the heels, but he did the best he could.
“Honey, I don’t know how to tell you this,” Geula said, “but you’re beautiful.”
“Quite stunning,” Ahuva agreed.
“Who’d have thunk?” Malki Samuels said. ”I am a genius.”
David looked at them all skeptically. Then he walked over to the full length mirror in the hallway.
“Dad, you’re a better looking woman than you ever were as a man,” Daniel said.
“It’s a Purim miracle,” Geula said.
“This is really weird,” David said. “I gotta sit down.”
“Are you O.K.?” Ahuva said. “You’re looking a little sick.”
“I was supposed to look silly. It’s a Purim costume, for heaven’s sake. I’m not supposed to look attractive.”
“Joke’s on you,” Ahuva said. “You’re stunning.”
“Robin Williams did not look attractive as Mrs. Doubtfire!” David shrieked. “And Dustin Hoffman was a hideous woman in Tootsie. Tyler Perry’s Medea is not good looking in the least! Why me? I will be a laughingstock among my friends!”
“I don’t understand why you would want to be an unattractive woman,” Ahuva said.
“Trust me. It’s a guy thing,” Daniel said.
“David, dear, this isn’t good,” Ahuva said. “You’re starting to look a little sickly.”
“Sickly?” David said. “That’s it! Malki, can I see you in the other room for a minute?”
They were gone for over half an hour. Megilla time was rapidly approaching.
“Honey, are you O.K.? We have to leave for shul soon.”
“I’ll be out in a minute,” David said from behind the closed door.
Malki came out first. She looked profoundly disappointed.
“Behold, the monster!” she said.
David came out with a different look. He still sported the dress, sheitl, tiara, and heels, but his skin was covered with red welts of makeup and splotches of green and brown. His face was a mottled mess.
“What happened to Queen Esther?” Geula asked, clearly disappointed.
“I’m not Esther,” David said.” I’m Vashti.”
“Vashti? You’re hideous!”
“Yes, and according to the gemara Megilla*, Vashti was struck with leprosy to prevent her from coming to meet Ahashverosh. I am that version of Vashti.”
“You do know that the Talmud Yerushalmi portrays Vashti as a positive figure who refused to bow to Ahashverosh’s crazy whims, right?”
“That’s not the version I’m going with.”
“You’re more the zombie apocalypse Vashti?”
Malki shrugged. “I tried.”
Ahuva smiled. “You did your best, Malki. The problem is that you did too well.”
And so, the Frankels piled into the mini-van and went to megilla reading. David’s costume was a big hit with his friends. And David never dressed up as a woman again. Ever.
But based on the rumor that some pictures of Queen Esther Frankel may have been preserved on someone’s cell phone, David became the most attentive husband in the world. Ever.
*Talmud Bavli, Megilla, 12b