When I am not being simply outrageous about whatever excites me at the moment I have to work for a living, and to do that I do a quick change in some phone booth into my Franchise Lawyer ensemble, yell SHAZAM and emerge in my other persona pretending to be utterly professional, using as little profanity as I can manage and reassure all and sundry who seek out my counsel that if they but follow my advice and promptly pay as agreed they will avoid the more expensive difficulties that the vicissitudes of the market place put there to ensnare them.
Some follow that agenda and others do not. Fortunately for me, most of the time I really can pass for a serious professional; all turns out somewhat as I predicted and hoped it would; payments are promptly made and all is right with their world and mine. Then I can return to my Seamus Muldoon persona – the real me – and resume being outrageous.
Such was the situation when into my office wandered Chaim Yankel Schmulowitz, announcing that he wanted to establish an all new, never before been launched franchise concept centered upon pedicures for strictly Orthodox Jewish women, but with an array of other peripheral services and products acceptable to the observant Orthodox Jewish persona. The name of this establishment is to be The Chutzpah Foot Spa. We immediately raced over to Network Solutions to register the domain name Chutzpah Foot Spa in its various configurations so that it did not get ripped off the moment this went public. We discussed how he might find a strictly Orthodox Jewish website developer in order to avoid any taint or hint of Goyishness that would immediately become a point of intense religious criticism amongst those who make their living insisting that others punctiliously observe every jot and tiddle of what God commanded at and after the Theophany at Mount Sinai, the abbreviated version of which is commonly referred to as The Ten Commandments – a gross understatement if there ever was one.
I confessed never to have heard of anything even remotely like that except for Chick Fil A which as we all know is a Christian chicken sandwich store that prohibits any location being open on The Lord’s Day, which some believe is Sunday of each week. Now I know there are some Christians, including yours truly, who believe that every day is The Lord’s day (“This is a day that God has made,”) and therein lies a profound theological dispute. They also seek to avoid serving chicken sandwiches to or employing or enfranchising others than the strictly heterosexual, an issue that we all must agree any chicken sandwich seller has the right to insist upon amongst its clientele. But that is for another story on another day. Let’s stick to the business at hand, shall we. Chaim Yankele was dressed almost as if in costume to appear to be a very pious Orthodox Jew. I mean he was right out of some movie - think The Chosen. He even smelled like someone who spent his life in musty surrounds praying and eating smoked and pickled fish and hoping that someday soon he might have a comfortable bowel movement. He had that look of wanting to “go” but not being quite ready to do it, bloated and hoping. However, when we got right down to it, he was astonishingly uninformed about what is required when dealing with Orthodox Jewish women seeking a pedicure.
I asked to see a copy of his outline for the franchise operating manual and was only mildly surprised to see that it was devoid of any insight at all about how the operator of such a franchise would go about setting it up and actually operating it. Accordingly, I suggested that he hire someone familiar with Jewish laws concerning women’s hygiene to help him write the manual. He seemed upset that I would confront him despite his wardrobe, actually questioning whether it was just a pose and a costume to help him sell franchises, but upon further discussion even he had to admit to a critical lack of basic knowledge about how to operate such a business without violating Jewish law concerning feminine hygiene, which after all is what pedicures are all about. The implications for the total initial investment required to be disclosed in the FDD (Franchise Disclosure Document) were discouraging. Do you know what you have to have in place before you can attract an Orthodox Jewish woman to come get a pedicure? Maybe now you can appreciate the name Chutzpah Foot Spa.
Suddenly I became suspicious of whether this guy was who he said he was. As I considered him through this cynical lens he seemed to dissolve before my eyes as a credible potential client for anything. His story and his so called concept made no sense at all. It could never ever be something franchisable, not even in a place like Israel, which when you look closely at it is just a big city economy when it comes to franchising. All of Israel is probably at best a 30 – 40 store market no matter how good the concept. Moreover, the Orthodox population are certainly by no means the majority. In fact, if anything, they are considered parasites, always seeking privilege and contributing practically nothing to the largely secular society. Like the religious of any society, they are useless and obnoxious, thriving mainly on passing judgment upon other people.
A forensic check on this guy in my office showed no trace of any of his claimed credentials. I had either a complete charlatan here or a very colorful nut job, in either of which event the next revelation just had to be that he had no money to do on any development work even if he had brought in something that might be workable. If I were a real franchise consultant/developer I would have used this to gin up some money from a sucker list I know of and by the time the work yielded an obvious disaster in the making I could have skimmed off around $ 200,000. There are lots of guys out there in this business who would never have passed up that opportunity.
Out of idle curiosity, just in case I was wrong and possibly missing out on the next Massage Envy development opportunity, I decided to do a little down and dirty Internet feasibility research. Could one possibly within any reasonable range of capital and other start up costs configure a Chutzpah Foot Spa business model with a potential to yield positive cash flow, handle debt service and provide a return on the investment sufficient to interest possible investors? And just who would the investors have to be. God knows there are enough rich Rabbis around with whom to populate a good working sucker list.
Orthodox Jews and Sicilians have about the same obsessions about what has to be done with nail pairings, regardless whether they be fingernails or toenails. Yes I know that to normal people this is nothing but superstitious bullshit, but these people have long held firm beliefs about it that will definitely influence their decision about going somewhere to get a manicure or a pedicure. Some Sicilians believe that if you don’t carefully collect and dispose of nail pairings in a secret manner, some enemy will steal them and use them in a ritual to put the malocchio (the evil eye) curse on your soul. I aint making this shit up!
In the holy writings of the Jews it is written that one who burns their nail trimmings is a Chasid (pious person), one who buries them with a funeral service is a Tzadik (righteous person) and one who throws them out is a Rasha (wicked person). See Gemara; Niddah 17a; Moed Katan 18a. The Mishna Beruah 260;6 says that it is the practice not to trim one’s nails on Thursday. It also says there that there are authorities that say one should not trim one’s fingernails on the same day as one trims one’s toenails. Don’t look at me like that. I didn’t write this from my imagination. The days vary from Orthodox sect to Orthodox sect and from Rabbi to Rabbi. For example, in one group one does not trim nails on Rosh Hodesh (the first day of each month) (Be’er Heitev 260:2) citing the will of Rabbi Yehudah ha Hasid. There are other admonitions that go on ad nauseam, including that you should only trim your nails on the day before the Sabbath or the day before a Holiday, and that you should never trim them in order, but only randomly. Is it any wonder that Jews always seem preoccupied and uptight. Who can keep track of all this and still have time to relax. And this aint all. There are pages and pages that contain similar particularity regarding the rules for using your bowels.
And this is but the beginning. No Orthodox Jewish woman is going to sit in a chair or put her feet into a foot bath without knowing that it has not previously been used by some impure other woman.
Leviticus specifies that a menstruating woman must “separate” for seven days (Leviticus 15:19). Any object she sits or lies upon during her period of separation becomes a midras ha tumah, a carrier of impurity. If one sits on a chair previously sat upon by an impure woman, the punishment under the Laws of Leviticus is Kareth (being cast out) (Leviticus 20:18). Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, in his Igrot Kodesh, would loosen up the period of mandatory separation between men and women following menstruation, but this is to be taken with a bit of a grain of salt because he is more secular than most of his ilk. His undergraduate work at the Sorbonne was in Electrical Engineering.
This means that in order to be sure your customers are not causing your pedicure station to become infiltrated with impurity, every one of them has to go to a mikveh ritual bath just before the pedicure. Now you have to install a spa pool that can be used for the ritual mikveh bath. And before you can immerse her into the ritual bath, you must first determine that she has stopped menstruating. You can’t risk her bleeding in your ritual purity bath. For this you have to stock a supply of Bedikah, ritual white cloths to be inserted into their vaginas to see if there is still any blood. These have to be certified by some other Rabbi who makes his living certifying vagina testing cloths. For those who don’t understand, everything in the lives of these anal compulsive people has to be certified by some Rabbi to be kosher. Were you to shove just any old rag up your snatch to look for blood, the test would not be valid.
These verification requirements are exactly like the clauses in franchise agreements that require franchisees to purchase supplies and inventory only from vendors designated and approved by the franchisor.
As you might well imagine, there is a sectarian dispute amongst Ashkenazy Jews and Sephardic Jews over how long the period of prohibited contact is presumed to last. The rules run from a short period of three days to a longer period of twelve days, with other periods in between those. So who your family is; where they come from; where they live now; and which religious group they now affiliate with must be scrupulously tracked.
This alone could stretch out the open for business period at the Chutzpah Foot Spa for a decent Monday through Friday business (provided of course that everything is cleaned and closed before sundown on Friday when the Sabbath begins.
I absolutely refused to delve any further into the intricacies of this religious bullshit for two reasons. This concept aint gonna fly no matter what, and there aint no money to test it out. Forgetaboutit! I mean, you need to know that every Orthodox congregation runs its own Mikveh ritual cleansing operation to make its women touchable every month. This includes the hair, the nails, the snatch testing foolishness and certification of compliance so some Jewish man can guiltlessly screw her brains out. How are you going to get a Rabbi to certify your Chutzpah Foot Spa to be Kosher when it will compete with his own similar operation in the basement of his synagogue? Forgetaboutit!
I had to step back and take a deep breath and remember that the fundamentalists of all religions have their same “women are like cattle and are to be treated that way” agendas. In the USA conservative so called Christians refuse to allow women to make decisions for themselves on many intensely personal subjects. Catholics believe and teach that women are subordinate to men generally and that there is God mandated biblical authority for that in Genesis and in Second Corinthians – Paul’s letter to Timothy. Fundamentalist Muslims adhere to the agenda of treating women as easily disposed of property.
Only in enlightened segments of society can women have a decent shot at individual respectability based upon their own achievements and not on their willingness to comply with male dominant regimentation.
Franchises addressed to the narrowest of clientele who, thankfully, are in limited numbers, have no prospect for success. I am certain that Chaim Yankel Schmulowitz is now off to see some other franchising consultant or lawyer who is less concerned with feasibility vetting and who will help him find suckers and help him misrepresent to prospects. I expect in a few months to see on the franchising circuits the adverts for this “unique” proven system for a business opportunity where you can work “for yourself but not by yourself” and “be your own boss”. Remember, you heard it here first THE CHUTZPAH FOOT SPA.
By Seamus Muldoon, Himself
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