What's A Nudnik?
Yiddish word, nudnik, comes from the polish, nudzic, which literally
means bore. But in American vernacular it has come to mean someone
who can do nothing right – a nut, a bumbler. Whether it’s
Howard Stern calling an inept member of his entourage a nudnik,
or James Spada in his Barbara Streisand biography using the word
to describe her as an awkward teenager, the word connotes ungainliness.
Our NUDNIK is much more than that, however.
Our NUDNIK is the master nudnik. He is a Man against Things. He
can’t do anything right, but he has a very funny time trying.
When pumping up his bicycle tire, he jiggers the hose into his shoe
so that his sneaker inflates until it explodes. When turning on
the hot water facet, the handle breaks off. In trying to accomplish
even the simplest task, NUDNIK sets into motion a series of disasters
that can level a house or even an entire city block.
NUDNIK’s failures cause us to forget
our own troubles, which will surely seem small by comparison. If
we cannot program our DVD player, or download the latest software
upgrade, let us not feel inadequate. NUDNIK cannot tie his laces
without fastening his thumbs to his shoes.
In the clown tramp tradition, our rubbery
faced hero tries his best to compete against the overwhelming problems
of everyday life. NUDNIK stands for all of us caught up in today’s
complex world of gadgets and dangers, with which we can neither
understand nor cope. Just looking at him makes us feel glad we are
not as miserable as he.
But NUDNIK is also the kindest, most
cheerful, sincerest soul you’ll ever meet in this hostile
world. He has adjusted to his life; he never loses hope, and therein
lies his charm. NUDNIK does have successes, but they are never of
his own doing – only a byproduct of his foibles. A lesson
for us all.