Author Archives: Jamie Tunkel

Model UN Pick-Up Lines

“Model UN pickup lines are used at Model UN conferences by high school students. In committees, which can range in size from five people to five hundred people… there’s a note passing system where different representatives of countries can pass each other notes. Ummm…  traditionally these notes are for informational purposes that relate to the speeches and resolution writing. Informally, people use these notes to try to pickup delegates, so, the thing about Model UN pick-up lines is they specifically are puns that relate to debate and parliamentary procedure and sometimes the countries that are being represented. Typical pickup lines…. ummm, okay, one of the most creative pickup lines is, ummm, okay, hmmm, “I motion to ally with Greece and invade Djibouti.” Another one is, ummm, “I’d like to see your position on the floor,” and it’s funny because you write position papers. [laughs] A less creative one is, “I’d like to moderate your caucus.” I think it’s less creative because it doesn’t make too much sense. You just have to say it in a certain way for it to sound like a pickup line. Ummm… so, this one I got was great when I was representing South Africa at a conference, and the line was, “I wish I was Lesotho so I could be inside you.” Lesotho is a tiny country inside of South Africa. It’s completely landlocked and surrounded by South Africa. Oh my gosh, there is this other one… “wanna bang my gavel?”

I learned these pickup lines from generations of Model UN students. The older students will teach the new delegates these lines. I’ve been to conferences at Brown University and the University of Chicago and heard or read, on notes, some of the same pickup lines at both. The lines are pretty standard for Model UN conferences because parliamentary procedure stays the same.

I think they’re funny because it makes the committee experience much more enjoyable. You’re getting bored and someone sends you a pickup line in a note and it really brightens your day.”


The informant told me about these pickup lines while reminiscing about her high school days. She was laughing a lot and generally seemed to have fond memories of these pickup lines, despite that fact that they are pretty cringe-worthy. She belonged to a very competitive model United Nations team while in high school, but her fondest memories seem to be of the sillier things that happened at the model UN conferences.

The informant said she enjoyed the pickup lines because they provided entertainment, as the committee sessions would drag on for hours. I think the purpose and enjoyment of the pickup lines goes a little deeper than that. The lines make a lot of sense within the context of where they are used. When you are away at a conference for three to four days, surrounded by teenagers ranging from 14-18 years old, pretending to be older diplomats debating world issues, there are a lot of different factors coming into play. For instance, you have all of these hormonal teenagers shoved into a room together. Also, a lot of the teenagers who attend these conferences are pretty nerdy, and the pickup lines seem to be a way of reclaiming their status as more typical or sexualized teenagers. Most model UN conferences have a delegate dance on the last night of the conference, and the dances are a place where the delegates get to let loose and act like typical teenagers. The nerdy pickup lines seem to help the students tee-up for this dance. Additionally, many teenagers have difficulty telling their crushes that they like them, but sending an anonymous pickup line note to a student from a school from another state or another county who you will likely never see again is a safe way to flirt.

WWI Family Survival Story

“In World War I, Italy was overrun by Turks and, in this one area, there were thousands of Italian soldiers that were massacred by the Turks. There were three survivors out of thousands. The Turks piled the bodies in huge piles to burn, because what else were you going to do with the bodies? And my mother’s grandfather, so that’s my grandfather’s father, was one of the three survivors out of thousands. And he survived by hiding in the pile of bodies for a week. Or three days. Three days to a week. And then he got away before they torched the pile of bodies.”


The informant was very insistent that this story really happened and proceeded to look it up on the Internet for about fifteen or twenty minutes. However, he was unable to find an article corroborating the story. The informant told me that he heard it from his parents and he told it to his three sons. He also said that his mother’s grandfather received a medal or an honor for his bravery. The story incorporates elements of survival, strength, bravery, and honor. As a result, this family legend is important to the informant’s sense of family identity.


Jewish Saying Summing Up Every Holiday

“The way you can sum up every Jewish holiday, for the most part, is: they tried to kill us, we survived, now let’s eat. It means to me two different things. One is very serious… for some reason, so many other cultures have decided that the Jews should be annihilated. The other thing it means to me, that bothers me, is that many of our uh… that Jews tend to dwell on these negative events to define who they are and what they are about.”


The informant told me that she doesn’t know where she first heard this phrase, but that “probably some other Jew said it to me.” I have heard this phrase and similar phrases throughout my entire life, and I have often used a variation of this phrase to try to explain my religion or the holidays we engage in to people who are unfamiliar with Judaism.

The thing that interests me the most is this informant’s take on the phrase. I have usually heard this phrase used in a way that is dismissive (oh, all of our holidays are just like this…) or, more often, in a way that is humorous. It’s almost comical to think that most Jewish holidays follow this pattern and that they usually involve the consumption of a lot of food, which seemingly, on the surface, has little relevance to the heavier, darker fact that Jews have been persecuted and have had to escape death time and time again.

For instance, Sean Altman is a singer-songwriter who performs under the band name Jewmongous. He has a comedic song called “They Tried to Kill Us (We Survived, Let’s Eat)” that supposedly explains the story of Pesach. It contains a ton of pop culture references and factual inaccuracies, which is supposed to prove that all of the details of the holiday are basically irrelevant, because all you need to do is boil down the holiday to this one simple phrase, which is contained in the chorus. The song is available as an MP3 and on a CD, which you can purchase on his website at You can also watch a live performance of the song (

Despite the fact that this phrase is typically repeated for its humor, I have always heard this informant use the phrase in a sort of melancholy way. To her, the phrase represents a long and depressing history of the Jewish people, and she believes that the use of this phrase, combined with the practice of Jewish holidays, tends to perpetuate a tendency to dwell on the negative. While I see her point and definitely agree that Jews tend to have a martyr complex, I strongly believe that this phrase is a way for Jewish people to reclaim their history and bring joy by making light of very serious problems. Rather than dwell on the negative, we look forward to the positive— in this case, a large feast.


Jewish Saying About Opinions

“You put three Jews in a room you get four opinions.”


I have heard this phrase, or a variation of the phrase, used many times before. Sometimes the number of Jews in the figurative room varies, and sometimes you can get many more opinions (for example, sometimes it’s two Jews in a room and three opinions; sometimes it’s four Jews in a room and six or seven opinions.)

The joke relies on the stereotype that Jews are very opinionated people and suggests that if you have a certain amount of Jewish people in one room, you will get even more opinions than people that are in the room. I’ve only ever heard this joke told by Jewish people. The telling of this joke seems to be a way for Jews to reclaim a stereotype. There are a lot of less-than-positive stereotypes about Jewish people, some of which Jews spend a lot of time and energy actively refuting. Thus, the telling of this joke seems to be a way for Jews to acknowledge this particular stereotype and make fun of it, as if to say that it is all right to hold this belief because it is somewhat grounded in truth.

Lawyer Joke

“If you wanted to have all of the answers before you got there, you should have gone to medical school.”


This occupational joke, often told by lawyers, is disparaging of doctors. It’s funny because usually one would think that doctors have a more difficult job than lawyers because they are dealing with life and death situations, but the joke implies that doctors learn everything they need to know at school. Supposedly, all of the diseases and conditions doctors will encounter are in their medical textbooks. While this is not entirely true, it is clearly a belief held by many lawyers who tell this joke. Those lawyers believe that their jobs are more difficult because they can often deal with situations that have never happened before or have never been documented before. Even if their cases are really just a variation of previous cases, they seem to believe that each situation is unique, whereas, in their opinion, an illness is always the same.

The informant is fond of this joke because she is a lawyer. I have heard her tell this joke multiple times, usually when she is talking about a difficult work-related situation. She seems to tell this joke to remind herself that having a difficult job comes with the territory and that not everything is so cut-and-dry.