The Origins Of OY!
The word OY! (with the exclamation point) was first uttered by the shepherd, Oscar, in the year 1509 B.C.E. He had come down to the field to check on the sheep, and to his miserable surprise, he found that several of the sheep had been slaughtered by a mountain lion. But that is not what elicited the cry of dismay, pain, annoyance and grief. It was that he found his grandfather having an intimate relationship with one of the sheep. It was a chilly morning in Mesopotamia and our shepherd thought that perhaps his grandfather was just trying to stay warm. The cow dung that was being used for heat in the house had been all used up weeks ago (they were waiting for a delivery of new cow dung, but there were issues at the border and the shipment was delayed), and so granddad who was old and getting cold, needed to find comfort. It should be mentioned that grandma had given up sex for lent several decades earlier (she was a jewish convert, but had converted back shortly after Oscar’s father was born). Due to a change in her diet, grandma was now sleeping in a tent near the well of Howcouldhe, so grandpa had no choice, but to find solace with a sheep. However, in fairness to grandpa, his eyesight was failing and he may have mistaken the sheep for his mistress who also had a large head of white hair.
As Oscar drew nearer to grandpa and his beloved sheep (singular and plural) , he saw the truth and in a spasm of frustration, cried to god the now famous wail of the generations of jews to come — OY! This was followed in sotto voce by what is now the 11th commandment – thou wilt be in therapy for the next 3 millennia.
And so we leap ahead 3000 years, and we look at the white house and we look at the world today – and what is left for us to do – either cry OY! or start looking for a nice sheep.
Now, you too can have OY!
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