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February 18, 2009 - Image 9

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2009-02-18

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Sweet dissastisfaction

could always tell the mornings
when my dad was cooking car-
amel in the back of his candy
store - the sweet aroma filled my
sensesevenbefore Iwalked through
the swinging door of his chocolate
store. The copper kettle he stood
next to resembled a cauldron, and
I used to imagine that I w as ass itch
brewing a secret potion. 'eh father
stirred the carame in figuire-eights
using anirsie odnSpoon,
my young hand 'estting inder-
neath'his. For a time, I actatnyl
beliesee Is as doing the s-work.I, lt
the tou gher realization was that I
Would never ssant to follow in his
footsteps.
For more than thirty years my
father has been the proverbial kid
in the candy store. Three decades
surrounded by chocolate seems
like more of a dream than a job.
But having been born into a sugar-
coated dynasty, I'm the only one of
my siblings who hasn't been won
over by the chance to live in Candy
Land forever. I appreciate the sig-
nificance of having a part in such
a successful family business as
Lazar's Chocolate, but frankly, the
idea of carrying out this legacy is
less desirable than a root canal.
It is this common obsession with
chocolate, buttressed by commu-
nity support, which has kept my
father in business for over three
decades. Nearby stores constantly
hang"for rent" signs in vacant win-
dows and are usually replaced by
big chains and banks, but Lazar's
Chocolate is a household name in
TRANSGENDER
From Page 5B
testosterone. Mak finds an aspect
of his transformation humorously
ironic: in his pursuit of a post-gen-
der identity, he has "become the
stereotypical male."
"It is complicated because a lot of
these things are rooted in biology,"
he said. "We really don't under-
stand it ... that even though we are
ruled by all these biological fac-
tors that doesn't mean that we are
just one thing or another because
everyone's biological factors are
wildly different."
Mak plans on having chest
reconstruction in May. He will
have a full mastectomy and then
have a plastic surgeon reshape the

my hometown, No matter how far
I try to run, chocolate has been
my constant connection to home.
While studying abroad in Prague, I
met a young guy familiar with my
Long Island hometown and within
the first few minutes of our conver-
sation he recalled, "You know what
I really miss? Lazar's Chocolate."
But I could never identify with
the consumers' ongoing fascina-
tion. Customers still ask me ques-
tions regarding the store, hoping
to gain insight frit the daughter
of the candy sit-itsielf, as if I am
ltording some secret recipe. They
think their comments are ssittybut
at this point I've heard it all. Let me
las some of the mytths to rest now: I
do not have an Ooipa Loompa and
my dad isn't Willy Wonka. Why
don't I carry around chocolate in
my pockets? It would melt. I don't
live in a gingerbread house, I can't
eat my bed or walls, I don't have to
pay for my endless supply and no, I
absolutely will never get sick of the
smooth sensation of a quality con-
fection.
When I used to work at Lazar's,
customers who I didn't know
seemed to know me simply by fam-
ily resemblance - my dad's distin-
guished nose and my mom's soft
hazel eyes. They used to approach
me, pinch my cheeks, pat the crown
of my head and recall something
like "I remember you when you
were just this tall" or "You look
just like your brothers." I remem-
ber shuffling uncomfortably in my
light-up sneakers as early as five
tissue to resemble a more mascu-
line pectoral muscle. His insurance
will not cover the procedure, but it
may cover the hospital fees.
The University has taken steps
in recognizing and accommodating
freedom of gender expression. In
2007, it became one of 266 colleges
in the United States to include gen-
der identity and gender expression
in its non-discrimination clause,
according to the Transgender Law
and Policy Institute.
But even with progressive poli-
cies, the University cannot ulti-
mately control the way that people
on campus view transgender stu-
dents, some of whom have been the
targets of hate crimes and discrim-
ination. Many of them have not
come out to their peers out of fear
of how the people around them will

years old, when customers took to four and 4,000 I was ready to run
calling me Ms. Lazar. It's a strange out of the store at the mere mention
feeling to be a walking novelty to a of boxing chocolate.
bunch of strangers, even if it's well- My brothers Marc and Jeff have
intended. always berated my distaste for the
All of my teenage years were candy business. Of many possible
spent working in the Great Neck adjectives - lazy, annoying, fast,
store, one oif three locations. The slow, efficient, scatter-brained -
hours crept by mechanically. The they'd probably describe my time
as a Lazar's employee as unreli-
able. I guess it would resonate
The bitter truth with a sharper sting if I were more
surprised, but the truth is their
a ''t having a attitude toward me is more of a
confirumation of wh at I already
family-owned knew about myself and the candy
business. I always fell a grand-
chocolate store mariner truffle short of a success-
ful day on the job.
Holidays left me no choice,
though. I worked during the hectic
speakers softly hummed Billy Joel months, showingup late and check-
and America's greatest hits repeat- ingmye-mail instead ofhelpingcus-
edly while I placed gummy worms tomers. Jeff used to chide me: "An
into plastic bags and wrapped boxes hour late and an hour for lunch?" I
in festive paper: pastel eggs on Eas- was never allowed to attend school
ter, Jewish stars on Chanukah and on Valentine's Day because my
pansies in spring. My brothers and father needed extra help. I know
dad, meanwhile, patrolled with it seems ridiculous to fall for such
iron fists. I circled the work table a contrived holiday since it was
from breakfast until closing time, essentially invented for stores like
putting an array of chocolate pieces mine. Without Valentine's Day, it's
into boxes. Each box must weigh true that my closet would only be
the correct amount, be stuffed, half full and much less glamorous.
taped shut and wrapped to perfec- It would have been nice, though,
tion. The first time I successfully to explore the romance of Febru-
constructed a one-pound box of ary 14 for myself instead of working
chocolate and my dad approved of behind the scenes.
its tidy appearance, I was elated. I dreaded Christmas more than
Even the second and third time, I Valentine's Day though, because
felt the satisfaction of success. But unlike most families who celebrate
probably somewhere between box on December. 25, Christmas for

the Lazars lasts from Halloween
to New Year's Day. I will always
remember December evenings, sit-
ting in pajamas and slippers on a
school night, placing glossy choco-
late nut patties into storage boxes
while practicing my times tables.
I hated those evenings at the time,
but I have a hard time looking back
svith resentment because those are
uy strongest memories of a time
W hen my family was all together.
My oldest brother, Mare, grew
up knowing he would take ovter he
family business one day. It seems
obvious from pictures taken in the
1970's of him stirring caramel, his
head barely visible above the cop-
per kettle, that chocolate and fam-
ily would be his destiny. My other
brother Jeff ventured out, initially
deciding to avoid a future of work-
ing in the store. But soon he found
his way back home. Together Marc
and Jeff will carry on my father's
business without me and I honestly
respect this despite my aversion to
the job. I can onlyimaginethattheir
children will one day be forced to
endure the same jobs that I whined
my way through. I can't know if
they'll cringe at the thought of the
family chocolate store as much as
I did or if they will breathe in the
aroma of caramel and feel the busi-
ness run through their veins. But I
can only hope that despite my own
sweet dissatisfaction, future family
members will appreciate the store
for whatever it's worth to them.
-Stacy Aron Lazar is an LSA senior.
our society, whether it be in poli-
tics where pundits argue if Hilary
Clinton should wear pantsuits, in a
clothing store where men discuss
whether or not they should wear
pink or in academia, where there
is an entire department devoted to
the study of women.
The discussion that transgender
students put forth is a continua-
tion of the greater gender dialogue,
but one of a different flavor. A dis-
cussion on how we can better ful-
fill gender stereotypes becomes
a discussion of how perceptions
of gender can better suit our indi-
vidual wants, needs and desires.
But with progressive policymaking
and transgender activists, the Uni-
versity might see the day when it
has achieved a truly "post-gender"
campus.

respond. Others have not revealed
their true sexual identity out of fear
of losing their jobs.
Charlie and Mak have both
experienced discrimination on the
Michigan campus. Mak has been
accosted on the street walking
home at night and last winter, he
was reproached for the bandages
he uses to make his chest appear
flatter when he went to the emer-
gency room of University Hospital
for minor injuries he received in a
car crash.
In the words of Javier, "there is
always more to be done" despite
all the policies the University has
adopted to accommodate transgen-
der students. There could be more
unisex bathrooms offered on cam-
pus, and the forms the University
requires students and employees

to fill out could include a blank
space after gender that would allow
people to fill out a true descrip-
tion of their gender expression if
it falls outside the male and female
dichotomy.
The University of Michigan Gay
and Lesbian Association offers two
$1,000 scholarships every year to
students who demonstrate a com-
mitment to gender and sexual
orientation on campus. But Mak
hopes to help establish the first
scholarship at the University spe-
cifically geared toward transgen-
der students.
When addressing a subject so
closely tied to our self-perceptions
and the perceptions others hold of
us, anger and misunderstandings
are common. Gender is an issue
that is constantly discussed in

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