A “Fimmel”* is a word Fred Fessler, (my dad) made up that is defined as “an irritant, an idiosyncrocy, a major annoyance or an intense dislike.” Depending on the intensity of the fimmel, this could make you angry, vomit, disgusted, nervous, anxious, etc. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a “fimmel” that makes you happy. It’s not used in a positive way. Ever.
I have a fimmel with finding egg shells in my egg salad or scrambled eggs. Once I find a piece of unintended egg shell in egg salad I cannot, repeat, cannot, physically continue to eat the sandwich. No how, no where and no way. Serious gag reflex time. Another “fimmel” of mine is finding someone’s hair in my food. It COULD be mine or it could be the dog’s, the waiter’s, the cook, the sous chef, my daughter, my husband, my son…..you get the idea. I cannot eat another bite of whatever dish was inhabited by that lone ( well we hope it’s lone) hair. If I could bottle these two together, I would have a serious diet revolution. Fimmels do NOT necessarily have to be associated with FOOD.
For example, I, have an extreme fimmel with people clipping their nails in public; particularly toe nails. I still remember the story of an old friend whose work partner sat in his office and clip-clipped his toenails for all for the world to see and hear. The sound alone, in public, makes me want to throw up. This is a fimmel that defies an accepted social boundary . One just shouldn’t clip your nails in public: you can’t convince me of one reason unless you are in a Podiatrist’s office. This story, was told to me about 8-9 years ago and will not dislodge from my neurotic brain. The sound alone of someone clipping their nails in public puts me way over the edge. It also happened once on the subway about 30 years ago. I still remember it and in addition to utter disgust I find myself furious. Perhaps fimmel is the wrong word for it, it has progressed to an utter dislike of any person that would do it .The mere thought of it makes my blood pressure go up and my stomach to clench in disgust.
I have a germ fimmel that is really a phobia.I have been using Purell way before the H1N1 flu virus came along. I ALWAYS have a small bottle of Purell in my handbag, a larger container in the car and one, ok, at least one at home. I must come from the same family as Howie Mandel (or is it a Jewish thing?) The difference between a fimmel and a phobia can be hard to distinguish sometimes. You have to know the person to assess the severity of the problem. One person’s fimmel is another person’s phobia is another person’s delight. It’s also linked in our minds to a specific situation that may have happened 25 years ago but will not disappear, ever.
I often went out to dinner with my then friend Toby when we lived in Boston. We were single, hard-working and lived in studio apartments that were about the size of half a garage. We went out to eat approximately 3 times a week and that is modest. One night Toby and I went to a restaurant called Cappuchino’s, one of our favorite Italian restaurants. We ate our meal and of course ordered our desserts. Back then in our late twenties, desserts were a given not an exception. Toby had hers served and I had mine and before I could blink Toby stabbed my dessert and ate a piece before I could taste it. This, in our language became “Tobying.” “Don’t Toby me” is heard often around my house now, a mere 30 years since it actually happeaned. It is one of my children’s favorite stories. However, the phrase will live in infamy. Even distant family members and true friends know the saying. “Tobying” is forever, never forgiven and certainly, never forgotten. Don’t touch my dessert, much less try it first. “Tobying”desserts should be a punishable offense.
Last but not least is the vomit fimmel. It’s ok if my kids throw up, but not others or those unknown. Seeing vomit outside on city streets or in an apartment building, basically anywhere , is the leader of the gag pack. If I smell throw-up, I immediately feel like I am going to throw up too. For bad smells anywhere, my mom perfected a quick antidote which she swears by. She always has a small handkerchief doused with her favorite perfume stuck in her pocketbook. I must say, this is pure genius. If only there were simple remedies to fimmels like that. Therapist would be sent packing, there would be a steep decline in the profession and there would be a lot more people, men and women, carrying handkerchiefs filled with sweet perfume.
What are Your fimmels? Write back and tell me…..