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Single In Shushan City (A Purim Spiel)

“Another day another dinar,” sighed Esther as she prepared her daily infusion of Turkish coffee before leaving for her job as an assistant editor at her Uncle Mordy’s business, Megillah Publishing. As usual she turned to the classified/singles section of her favorite newspaper, The Persian Press, the largest independent Anglo-Persian weekly in the world – distributed in all 127 provinces. “Same old, same old,” she thought as she scanned the ads, but suddenly a 2×3 caught her eye.


“Recently widowed king looking for replacement wife. Must be gorgeous, beautiful, stunning and thin – intelligence not an asset. King has a bit of a drinking problem – but wouldn’t you if your late wife was uppity and refused your command to strip? Willing to give up to half his kingdom for the right candidate – guaranteed in the pre-nup. To reply, email Heggai@palace.orgy.





Esther sighed and tossed the paper aside. Royalty didn’t exactly impress her. After all, she was a Jewish princess herself, being a descendant of the first ever king of Israel, Saul. Kindhearted but foolish Saul who let pity overrule his good sense, letting the King of Amalek live long enough to produce offspring, like that slimy lowlife Haman. Esther shuddered with disgust as she remembered that weasel-eyed Haman, who despite being married – with 10 sons no less – had tried to crash a Jewish singles Shabbaton, pretending he was Jewish and available. Luckily his three-cornered hat gave him away. What self-respecting Jew would be caught dead with a head covering like that? A kippah serugah or a streimel but a triangular hat? Only a loser like Haman would be so stupid to think he could pull a fast one on a crowd of Jews. Besides, he smelled like a horse. No way anyone would have given him the time of day. In fact when he had tried to pick up Esther’s friend and cousin Michal, she told him in her best Persian’ to go hang himself.”


As she took the subway to downtown Shushan, Esther noticed that all the females on the train were abuzz with excitement. “Are you going to answer the ad,” one asked the other – “the one the king put in?” “Are you kidding,” answered a rather zaftig, pimply young royal wannabe. “This is even better than trying to be the next ‘Persian Idol’. You don’t need any talent at all. The king didn’t ask his wife to sing in front of an audience – only to appear in her birthday suit. I can do that,” she declared with pride.


Esther shook her head in disbelief. Hadn’t these girls ever heard of Henry the Eighth? The merry, wine-guzzling monarch whose wives were almost literary “A Queen For The Day.” Everyone knew that kings traditionally had short attention spans when it came to their spouses. Besides who needed the paparazzi bothering you every time you went out the door?


“Nothing like being left alone,” thought Esther as she got off the train. Unfortunately for her, but luckily for the Jewish people, God had other plans for her. While downing a soda in a kosher pizza place during her lunch break, Esther was “discovered” by a talent scout hired by the king to find “the “face” of the future, and carted off to do a commercial for Heggai’s Beauty Spa and Pickling Products. (It was not uncommon for the prestigiously employed but poorly-paid palace professionals to have a side business to help make ends meet.)


After being oiled, lathered, soaped, shampooed, scrubbed, scraped, submerged, sanitized, slathered, steamed, sunned, manicured, massaged, kneaded, exfoliated, pedicured, pummeled, perfumed, parboiled, pulled and poked – for a year – a rather exhausted Esther, who could barely see out of her water-logged eyes, was finally going on her first “blind” date with the king.


Much to her dismay, she caught the king’s eye – he had accidentally poked his face with a sword as he looked at her – and became the new queen of Persia.


“Things could be worse,” Esther thought to herself as she moved into her new digs in the palace and introduced herself to her maidservants. “At least I won’t have a problem getting a cleaning lady for Pesach!” Which just goes to show one and all that every cloud has a silver lining. You just have to get that perfumed soap out of yours eyes to see it!


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